Don't blame me -- 02/05/09

I was flipping through a copy of Time magazine today (Jill had recently mentioned needing a haircut and I said "me too" so I had made us both appointments with Sue at Guys & Gals in Wakefield and so I was killing time while Sue was cutting Jill's hair) and I came upon a piece that really ticked me off. It was about who to blame for the financial problems and one of the targets of blame was "you and me" and I am absolutely sick and tired of that kind of crap.

If the author was financially irresponsible, then let him accept blame. If he thinks that people who bought houses they couldn't afford with no money down with an adjustable rate mortgage, then let him specify that group. If he thinks that irresponsible mortage salesmen who fast-talked people who were somewhere on the lower left side of the bell curve of fiscal knowledge into taking out mortgages that they couldn't really afford, then let him name companies such as Senator Dodd's best friends at Countrywide Financial. If he thinks that the hot shot bankers and financial wizards who sliced and diced and created mortgage derivatives to sell and resell, then let him point the finger at them. But I am sick of these public pontificators who insist that we are all responsible for this mess.

No, we are not all responsible.

We all get to pay for it, but we are not all to blame. The number of people who kept buying and flipping houses, the number of people who bought houses they couldn't afford with mortgages they didn't understand, the people who thought their house was a way to get rich... they total in the millions, but they really are just a minority of the population. Don't blame the rest of us for the greed and stupidity of a minority.

It's bad enough that we have to pay to clean up their mess. It's adding insult to injury to be lumped in with them and blamed for it by the very supposed news media "watchdogs" who never spoke out before the house of cards came tumbling down. (And, of course, chances are it's not your fault either.)

This was a television commercial that Tom Daschle ran for one of his election campaigns when he was Senator from South Dakota. (Note to those outside the U.S., Daschle's announced appointment to President Obama's cabinet as Secretary for Health and Human Services went down in flames when he was revealed as a tax cheat for a total of more than $130,000 in income taxes by failing to report income, including the fair market value of a chauffeured car service he received from a business associate.) This was especially embarrassing because so many other potential appointees have also been revealed to have cheated on their taxes. Or, in the immortal words of the late hotel and real estate billionaire Leona Helmsley: "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes ...")

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