Whilst tirading against the bailout and mourning the slow and inevitable slouch towards socialism the US seems hell-bent on, a reader made an excellent point that deserves further attention. I'm paraphrasing, but it basically went like this;
"You're like Hank Rearden when he realizes that it's not society that is behaving irrationally, but given the bail outs, corporate and social welfare, taxation rates, etc., it is your economic behavior that is irrational."
Now I confess I have not read Atlas Shrugged, but the point was still very well made. I, as well as all of you out there are suckers. We're rubes. We're the dumbsh!ts for working hard, paying our taxes, living only in houses we can afford, spending within our means, and otherwise supporting ourselves. That with all the benies government pays to the losers and parasites of society, why on God's green earth would we be working in the first place?
It's an outstanding point. I look back at my life and see just how much work and sweat I put into college, my career, my side jobs, only to have what is essentially the parasites of society lob off 33% of it, and now $700 billion more, and I have a hard time seeing how it was worth it. I'm trying to find out why I slaved and toiled working full time and going to school full time, when I could have just taken the easy way out and said "screw it, I'm collecting welfare and going on MinnCare (Minnesota's state health care) and refusing to work a day in my life." I'm trying to find out why I paid WaMu religiously and timely for every mortgage payment in the past 7 years, only to have their deadbeat leaders come to the government with a cup in their hand and ask for more of my money. I should have just defaulted like everyone else and stayed at home and played video games all day. But the key point is that whereas we berate and loathe such behavior, given the progressively socialist environment foisted on us by the government, how could a rationale person NOT avail themselves of all those benefits? Yes, we detest the parasite, welfare, sub-slime deadbeats who lived in better houses than we did, drove nicer cars than we have, and did it all with no ability to pay, and ultimately on the dime of us responsible members of society, but can you blame them?
And thus, why the entirety of this whole financial/banking/housing situation is so enraging. We did the right thing. We worked hard, we paid our bills, we budgeted, lived within our means and adhered to other simple concepts that 3rd graders can understand. The losers of society, whether knowingly or ignorantly (though I'm going more with knowingly), spent themselves into oblivion. And while they enjoyed luxury cars, sushi diners, trips to Europe and SUV's, we scrimped and saved and conserved, only to ultimately subsidize and bail out these degenerates. But to add insult to injury, as we look back at it, we were the ones who were idiots. We were the ones who were taken. To do the right thing, to work hard, to pay taxes, to pay your mortgage to live within one's means for the past 5 years was laughable and idiotic. We were voluntary hosts to parasites. It is arguably the most angering and depressing feeling a lot of us are feeling right now.
Alas, we are faced with a choice. Do we become "rational" human beings and capitulate to this wave of socialism sweeping the nation? Do we tell our mortgage company to ef off and refuse to pay our mortgage? Do we go out and sign up for welfare and state-paid health care? Or do we continue in our idiotic, archaic, obsolete 1940's old-school-American ways and continue to work hard and live within our means? Let me argue for that "stupid" "old school" Americanism.
First off you must realize the honor that comes with being one of those dwindling few that support themselves. If it weren't for us, the entire human race would cease to exist. I'm not saying this as hyperbole or rhetoric, I mean that dead-seriously. If it weren't for the producers, the human race would cease to exist. There'd be no New York, there'd be no X-Box, there'd be no ice cream there'd be no wiener dogs. The reason is very simple; if you don't produce, if you don't support yourself, then by definition you will die. And the same thing applies on a society wide level. I've always asked myself "what would happen to the country if all the Libertarians, republicans, conservatives and other varied sorts of capitalists, just ceased to exist?" And the answer is very simple; there'd be no country. We are the people who work and make this country go. We are the people who made America great. It is the workers and producers and entrepreneurs of the world that are the sole reason for advances in technology, creations in medicine, democracy, flight, cars, scotch and everything else. Everybody else is in the most literal sense, irrelevant to humankind and human history.
Second, is the nobility of independence. I don't know how many times back in college I heard some little 20 something girl, fresh out of a women's studies class bravado about how she was "independent."
Oh sure, dad bought her a brand new car.
And paid her rent.
And paid her credit card bills.
And her tuition for her worthless sociology degree.
Oh, but she was "independent."
And the womens studies professors. Certainly even more adamant about their independence than their student.
Oh sure, nobody in the private sector would hire them.
And the only thing they do is teach a study whose only function is to be retaught to the next generation of kids with no practical application outside academia.
And in most cases, these professors are in the public schools thereby necessitating the only way they'd get paid is if the government forces tax payers to cough up the money for something they wouldn't have spent money on otherwise.
But they're independent.
And those preppy frat boys soon to become Wall Street's finest as they kiss ass and suck...errr...I mean "work real hard" pulling off C's and D's in college because they know daddy has a job lined up for them in the end, so why work anyway?
Oh yeah, they're "independent."
Especially when they go to the government and need a bail out for Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, AIG. Oh yeah, real independent.
Let me tell you who is really independent.
The burger flipper at McDonald's who is slaving away to make ends meet and doesn't have the luxury of being a suburbanite prince or princess. He's independent.
The security guard who works the third shift so s/he can go to school during the day so they might be able to better themselves. They are independent.
The blue collar family that lives within their means and BUDGETS (any of you parasites ever hear of that word), to ensure they don't spend more than they make. They are independent.
And the capitalist or entrepreneur that saves their money, starts a company, fails but then doesn't go to the government for a subsidy or a check. He is independent.
Independence is arguably the most noble trait to have. It means you are truly and genuinely supporting yourself and do not rely upon others. Furthermore, it means you are a contributing member to society. Even if you think it a menial task or job you have, the burger flipper at McDonald's has done more to advance society than the highly paid Wall Street investment banker who's asking the government for a bail out because he's truly and genuinely INDEPENDENT. And it is because we are truly independent (not just "told" we're independent by some academian putz) that makes us (and I mean this seriously) better people than those who are dependent no matter what our financial background.
Finally, to give those of you who are independent, self-supporting contributing members of society one final thing to think about; who would you rather be?
I've often opined what would it be like to be a welfare bum or suburbanite prince/princess or "professional activist" on their death bed. To have all those years of lying about, not producing, not making anything of this one, precious finite life you have, and then when the end of that life is upon you, don't you have just a little bit of remorse or lament you've pissed it away?
When I die, I will be proud. I have taught thousands of people how to dance. I've taught thousands of people about personal financial management. I've gotten hundreds of little kids interested in paleontology and fossils. I hope I educate millions about the housing crisis. And for my day job (though it sounds nerdy) I've allocated capital efficiently. I can point to something so when I'm on deathbed I can say, "hey, good or bad, sub-prime deadbeats parasiting off of me or not, I achieved some amazing sh!t."
The dependent, the deadbeats, the losers who we are currently bailing out, can't say that. All they will be able to say is "I sat around and watched TV while collecting a government check."
"I helped bring the world's largest economy to recession as well as the global economy while I pocketed $100 million in a severance package."
"I filed for bankruptcy 3 times and had the consumer eat the extra costs."
When you die, you will leave a legacy. Maybe you aren't Tony Stark. Maybe you're not Bill Gates. But in the end, you will be able to point to your life and say, "I didn't waste it." You will go down in history as one of the producers. One of the independents. Alas, rational or not, there's nothing wrong with wanting to be Hank Rearden.