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Who’s To Blame for this Economic Mess?


Banks are failing, the economy is lifeless, and taxpayers are getting the bill. Were this 1929, we’d have our money under our mattresses, and we’d be sitting on them. Assuming, of course, we still owned homes with mattresses! Now, the question everybody wants to know is: Who can we blame?

Today, the FBI announced criminal inquiries into whether leaders at Fannie, Freddie, AIG, and others committed fraud. Meanwhile, I actually heard radio talk show callers today blaming “the Jews” for greedily lending too much money and “the Blacks” for taking mortgages they couldn’t afford. (Lord! How some people see this world astonishes me.)

Racism and antisemitism aside, I think the blame for our current economic crisis can be at least partially placed on greedy lenders and investors (of all faiths) and irresponsible borrowers (of all races). Of course, it can also be placed upon our government for not reigning in reckless lending.

But what about Joe and Jane Taxpayer? They are the working couples with a mortgage they can afford (and pay on time) who will end up paying taxes that bail out the less responsible. They’re the ones who should be—and are—the most upset about this mess.

And yet, I am reluctant to call any American blameless. After all, we, as a nation, cling to the idea of the American Dream in which any American seemingly has the right to own a home. It’s a nice ideal, but one grown impractical with time.

Perhaps its time Americans redefine home ownership as the privilege it is rather than another inalienable right.

What do you think?

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.

Comments

  1. The American Dream is to blame all over.
    THe Tax system rewards those who own. Thus why people buy homes. Trust, if I did not make too much money, and need to own a home to be able to recover some thru interest, I would not OWN!

    I think is the system feeds into the banking industry and folks. Blame government for not just giving us a flat tax.
    BLAME credit and FICO scores too. Because in order to have anything in america, you have to spend to be able to prove you can afford???!!!

    Does this make sense?? I blame the system. ITS wack. and now we are here…EFFED!

  2. Alice in Wonderland says:

    Sorry, I’m late but I had to add my thoughts.
    Personally, I feel like everyone has played a huge role in crisis and that people need to stop pointing figures. However, what bothers me is that the government’s role in this mess is grossly underestimated. If anything they are the worst offenders when it comes to spending money it doesn’t have. Now with the bailout, they will screw everyone else over even more (by prolonging this mess). It baffles me how the bailout didn’t pass the first time around, but passed the second time around because of some ridiculous “tax relief” stipulation which we all know what to quiet the masses. Eventually the government will recoup its money via taxes, be it in 5 or 20 years. In effect the newer bill is an even LARGER amount. As proven time and time again, their solution to EVERY problem is to throw money at it and hope it goes away, without ever getting to the root of the problem. It’s like trimming weeds: it will eventually grow back!
    I think it’s ludicrous we are looking to the government to bail us out. If the government really wants to intervene so badly, they should pass a law forcing EVERYONE over 18 to take a personal finance class and maybe, just maybe, learn how to do simple math!
    We need to stop this culture of instant gratification. This crisis may be a painful lesson, but hey: no pain, no gain.
    Sorry for the rant.