Well, here we are. A group of guys in New York has told us, as a nation, we’ve overdrawn our credit card and we’re not as good a risk to pay back what we owe as we were a year or two ago. So, all Hell has broken loose and there are institutional and political fingers pointing everywhere.
If you believe all the charges flying through the air, it would seem nobody’s to blame for the continuing hemorrhaging of retirement savings, the loss of about a third of our home’s value, the 20-30% local real unemployment statistic and the doubling of families needing food assistance and sleeping in tents or cars.
Here, in our little wooded corner of the Northwest, I chose not to believe all the accusations being relayed by an impotent media looking for the easy way of reporting a full and difficult story. I chose to believe nearly all of the charges and countercharges are both real – and pure B.S. – for my own reasons.
Some of the talking heads are blaming the Tea Party. Whatever and whoever that is. No. The ideologues recently added to Congress with their lack of knowledge about governance didn’t do it. They just held the match to the already gasoline-soaked fuse. The makings of this mess were piling up long before those folks got to Washington.
Standard and Poors did it? Not really. One of the best quotes I’ve seen in the last few days came from columnist Bill Saporito writing in Time magazine. “Having Standard and Poors downgrade the creditworthiness of the U.S. and warn about further downgrades, is a little like having the Catholic Church lecture scout leaders on proper behavior toward boys.”
His point, of course, is that S&P has been blessing companies engaged in the criminal business of packaging and selling high-risk – and sometimes all risk – mortgages for years and years. Though there is ample proof S&P and other ratings agencies knew of the “houses-of-cards” scam, they continued the AAA ratings for those involved. No clean hands there.
Democrats to blame? Republicans? Sure. Repeated tax cuts with no offsetting income, new social programs without new revenue to pay the bills, creating massive tax breaks for companies and individuals already making billions of dollars, sleeping with PACs and anyone else willing to pony up large campaign money. Turning a blind eye to the financial decay all of them knew was there. Lots of blame.
Presidents willing to sign legislation knowing full-well it was adding to the red ink. Presidents willing to “negotiate” losing battles rather than kick some butt on Capital Hill to do the right thing. Presidents who engaged in piling up of hundreds of millions of dollars to keep themselves employed. Blame there? You bet.
Big corporations poisoning the electoral process with billions of dollars and, with the blessing of the U.S. Supreme Court, all without any public accountability. Former members of Congress hiring themselves out to the highest bidder to weaken regulatory and other government oversight powers with their inside knowledge and contacts. Toss some blame their way. Lobbists, right and left wing fringe groups. Yeah, them, too.
An American system of public education that has turned out millions and millions of “graduates” with insufficient knowledge – or absolutely no knowledge – of how their nation’s governmental and political machinery works, how they’re structured, what they’re supposed to do – and not do. It’s been going on for years. Lots of blame.
But in the end, it’s you and me. While we’ve demanded smaller and less government, we’ve clamored for more services and benefits from it which, of course, means more costs and more involvement from a larger government. We’ve condemned Congress for inaction and arrogance while re-electing members over and over. We’ve stood by while individuals – not governments – individuals got us into two unwinnable wars, squandering not only billions in wealth but the lives and futures of thousands of our young people. We’ve kept up the payments on the house and the RV while we’ve allowed our government to run up trillions of dollars in debt.
We are suffering loss and financial hardship because we, too, participated in the system. Willingly participated. Much of the real fault in this national debt disgrace starts with you and me because we’ve long elected the wrong people from both parties, told them to take care of our business, then turned our backs and tolerated them when they didn’t. Both parties. All parties.
It didn’t start with the elections of 2010 or 2006 or even 1956. This economic decay has been festering and smelling for decades.