In catching up with several of my favorite bloggers, as well as the news, I came across an interesting article linked by Brian at One Oar in the Water. This article on "Infantile America," coupled with a proposed law on land contracts, got me thinking about the lack of knowledge and understanding needed to be independent AND responsible members of society.
The article postulates that, today, many believe "it is their right to indulge to any extent and rely upon the Federal government to bail them out." The newly proposed law carries the 'bail out' to another extreme, requiring inspections and 'minimum levels of habitability' and fines if such conditions are not met. It's described as 'consumer protection,' conveniently forgetting that some people choose to buy a less-than-habitable home and fix it up, using their own sweat to build equity.
What society seems to be saying is that I don't need to have the ability to take care of myself because the 'gummit' will do it for me. We've seen this mentality for years in the old welfare system: I don't need to understand that having a child is expensive and that I should be able to support said child before engaging in actions designed to produce offspring. After all - if I have a kid I can't support, I can turn to the 'gummit' for pre-natal care, food, cribs, you name it...
With terms like sub-prime lending, adjustable rate mortgages, interest-only loans and predatory lending, I no longer need to have the finances to own a home. I can buy a house I can't afford, pay interest only - or a low adjustable rate - and not have to worry if interest rates go up or if I have a balloon payment due sometime in the future. And if I get into trouble with this kind of financing, I'll just turn to the 'gummit' to make me whole.
And I don't need to read the fine print and understand what it means - the 'gummit' will just make more laws to protect me from my ignorance. I don't need to understand budgeting - the 'gummit' will bail me out by giving me subsidies for my car, my gas, my home if I can't afford it on my own.
With this new law, I don't need to be responsible for inspecting any home I'm about to buy - the 'gummit' will just create a law for those 'evil predators' who are going to take advantage of my stupidity.
And in all of this, it won't be my fault for any failure or shortcoming - I'm a victim of others. Caveat emptor? Is that some kind of foreign language?
Sadly, the skills that are necessary for successful survival in today's world seem to be lacking in so many. And our 'gummit' seems all too ready to step in and 'provide' or solve all the problems. Those of us who scrimp and save to be able to afford minor luxuries - or even necessities - are finding that others who don't have the knowledge or the willpower are benefiting at our expense. Remember - any 'gummit' bailout of the sub-prime industry means that you and I are paying for those mortgages - in addition to our own. Eventually, some will wonder why they bother, figuring that if others can be irresponsible, they can too.
And then those of us "with" will be criticized as being greedy, selfish, or worse, for not wanting to "help" our fellow man...because certainly we should sacrifice our wants and needs for those who don't share our values of thrift, savings, budgeting or planning.
The solution to this problem is not 'gummit.' It's education and individual responsibility. Education so that individuals can understand the complicated dealings and contracts - or know enough to know what they don't know and hire someone who can help. Individual responsibility so that if they make a bad decision, they accept the consequences and don't expect to place blame anywhere other than upon themselves - "fool me once, shame on you...fool me twice, shame on me."
And therein lies the problem. If we're smart, or educated, enough to take care of ourselves - and we're able to assume responsibility for our own actions - what will all those 'gummit' officials do? They won't have anyone to take care of...and their campaign promises will fall on deaf ears. We can't have that, now can we?
They need dependency upon government, so they can promise more programs and services, creating more dependency, resulting in the need for more programs and services. It's a vicious and never-ending cycle, counting on the ignorance of the masses for perpetuation.
John Adams said, "Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people..." But Lord Acton said, "Liberty is the prevention of control by others. This requires self-control and, therefore, religious and spiritual influences; education, knowledge, well-being."
As 'gummit' continues to expand their benevolence toward us, I can't help but wonder if we're headed in the wrong direction.