Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Don't need no education - I got gummit

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.


-Sepp said...

"...and we're able to assume responsibility for our own actions..." KEY PHRASE right there!
I think that some people are moronic enough to actually believe that they are entitled to live in a consequence-free environment where their Daddy the government always steps in and assumes responsibility for their f-ups. Meanwhile, true conservatives are branded as "uncaring" and "mean-spirited" (not enough room to add every label) when we demand some personal accountability from adults.
Why is there a segment of the poplulace that has no problem trading their biological parents for governmental parents? I guess that since I'm not a liberal I'll never understand and continue being a mean ol' conservative who begs for nothing.

Frank said...

I once heard a phrase when I was a teenager (back in the 80's), "The more laws that are created, the closer we become a communist society". (Heard it from one of my uncles).
Both my parents taught my sister and I that if you make a mistake, you will suffer the consequences of your actions and hopefully learn from your mistake. Needless to say, I did learn from my errors and now I have a child that will be taught in the same fashion so he can pass it on to his children when he becomes a father.

Maggie said...

-sepp...great phrase "consequence-free environment"...I'll have to remember that one.

frank - first, welcome, as I believe this is your first post to my blog. Second, every day I thank my parents for teaching me that actions have consequences. They loved me enough to let me fail in some things so that I could learn. There were some hard lessons, but they were well worth the cost.

And good for you in teaching your child the same things.

However, I fear the that reaction to this will be further calls for 'gummit' interference for those whose parents DON'T teach such responsibility...and so it will continue. :(

Roo said...

Maggie - please don't take this the wrong way.....but I love ya! You have a way with words, and it's awesome!

I certainly don't think that legislation of any sort is going to cure stupidity. But then....the wronged persons will feel secure that 'their' gummit has provided them with recourse against their own poor decisions.

I will be at the meeting on Thursday just by virtue of my position - both professionally and personally. And I will do my best to be civil...even when I want to jump up and slap someone.

Wish me luck....or just stay handy with a credit card for bail money. :)

Kurt said...

Maggie, are you trying to engage me in a debate about this? These variable rate lenders knew exactly what they were doing when interest rates dropped to nearly 0% during the last housing boom. This is PREDATORY lending and should be illegal. While I agree with you that most reasonable people would know better than to accept these loans, how can you say that education is the answer when our education system clearly isn't working - an education system you have been critcal of, by the way. You preach more education, personal resposibility, etc., but the fact is that not everyone is smart. Women get beat by their husbands/boyfriends but don't leave them - I suppose education is the answer there too (particularly considering the women in these relationships are often more educated than the men). Yes, education could help, but they don't teach sub-prime lending in high school.

Maggie said...

Roo - now why would I take that the wrong way? LOL

standing by with bail money!

Maggie said...

Kurt - no...I'm not trying to engage anyone in debate - at least, not intentionally.

But you've made a point I hinted at but didn't clearly articulate - they ARE NOT teaching these things in school - nor in the home. And that's the problem! Simply because you are not 'taught' something, you do not have the 'right' to expect everyone else to cover you for your mistakes.

It's a mentality - a way of thinking - that needs to be changed. And how do you change behavior? You certainly don't do it by eliminating all consequences for such behavior! And since word of mouth is such a preferred way of spreading information these days, I don't think it will take long. Tough love, I think it's called...

You see, Kurt, there's a difference between being a 'hand up' versus a 'hand-out.' To expect that individuals can engage in unsound financial transactions and then absolve them of any responsibility for such decisions constitutes a hand-out...and an expectation of abdication of personal responsibility.

If it's always someone else's fault because I'm too ignorant or dumb to know the difference, how will criminalizing such activities make me any wiser??? It won't - it just makes me comfortable in my stupidity - and more dependent upon some politician to protect me from myself.

So, Kurt, I ask you. If we agree that education is the problem, how does criminalizing the lending solve the problem? Personally, I think you're treating the symptom and not the disease...

Maggie said...

And then there is this quote that I came across this morning:

“It is not the function of the government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.”

—Justice Robert H. Jackson (hat tip to Patriot Post)

-Sepp said...

“It is not the function of the government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.”

The terminally apathetic in this country depend on the government to solve all their problems rather than seek responsibility for themselves...and then wonder where their rights went.

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