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'Bail Me Out, Baby'

Posted By Craig R. Smith On 12/28/2008 @ 12:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

America was a land forged by rugged individualism, hard work and personal responsibility. Our strength was our ability to take care of ourselves and limit government to the very basics of protecting the nation.

In 2008 that changed radically, and now it is all about big brother, Uncle Sam, taking over our lives. Most people are not only embracing it, they are demanding it.

If I hear one more person say they deserve a bailout, I may scream. From banks to homeowners, car manufacturers to insurance companies, everyone is lining up for the money and not a one of them have any shame about. In fact, they believe they are entitled to it.

It is easy to see when this sense of entitlement started to fester – when executives at Lehman brothers bankrupt their company and left their employees and shareholders out in the cold while the CEO, Dick Fuld, walked away with a $480 million severance and his mansions all over the East coast. While I understand the anger, where were these people when all the trouble was brewing?

Can a shareholder in Lehman Brothers blame anyone other than themselves when they sat back and watched the CEO run the company into a financial brick wall and still remained vested in the stock? What about the thousands of employees who knew their company was not making money but had no qualms receiving healthy six-figure paychecks plus bonuses every year? I guess they stayed while the getting was good and bellyached when the house of cards fell.

What about the employees, bondholders, suppliers, middle managers, dealers and shareholders of General Motors who fully understood the losing ways of a car company that provided more health care and pensions than they did decent cars. And now they cry out to the government for a bailout because the crybabies didn’t require accountability of upper management or Union bosses during the decades of mismanagement.

It makes me sick to my stomach.

I would never invest my money or time in a business that was losing money and paying millions to the CEO while doing so. Yet millions of Americans have done just that, and now they want the government to bail them out.

Why?

They think they are entitled to it just like Bear Stearns, Fannie and Freddie, AIG and now General Motors and Chrysler.

I have been opposed to every government intervention program starting with the ill-conceived stimulus package presented in February 2008. This brainchild of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid passed the Senate 81 to 16. At least 16 senators have half a brain. That started a binge of the government “helping, saving and rescuing” us from the abyss but it has done little to improve the markets. And now all we have to show for all their action is an estimated $8 trillion tab.

This equation of increasing government and decreasing interest rates to make more cheap money available for people to borrow and spend us back to prosperity is the same formula that caused the problem in the first place. What makes us think doing more of the same is going to produce a better result?

The cold, hard fact very few want to face is that people taking responsibility, not the government, is the recipe for recovery in America – not more government and cheap money. “We the People” must hold elected officials and corporations responsible for doing their jobs properly or fire them if they do not.

How can anyone really have confidence in politicians to make things better? If they truly want to help, they should take a year or two off. I don’t think we would miss them. That would allow time for everything that has already been done to either succeed or fail. To continue allowing them to pass more bad legislation is insane.

A Congress hiatus would cap everything. No new taxes, no new spending, no new government programs. We have had a “Day without a Mexican” and “a Day without a Gay” in America. The country survived. How about a “Year without a Bureaucrat”?

Good Idea?

Americans need to stop sending back the same people every two, four and six years to Congress. If they succeed, they should be re-elected. If not, they should be sent packing. And if you have been voting to send the incumbents back year after year without checking their record, it is your fault.

If you invest your money in companies that break the law as well as every basic rule of business and pay their executives millions to do so, it is your fault. Yet if many Americans get their way, Americans who act responsibly will be paying back the money wasted attempting to bail everyone out.

I have left one group of bailout seekers for last: the homeowners. Soon millions will be lining up. Many of these people signed a contract for 30 years – a contract not conditional on their home increasing in value.

Homeowners who soon will demand principal reductions and cheaper interest rates, or they will walk away and stick the government with the bill. And what is their justification? The fat cats on Wall Street did it. Now it is time for them to get their fair share.

Many of these “homeowners” should have realized they were actually renters who just wanted to be homeowners. I want to be an NBA superstar, but that is not a reality. No matter how badly I want it. Neither is homeownership for everyone. They exhibited little to no personal responsibility for the decisions they made, and now they want us to bail them out. They want us to pay the bill.

Fuggeddaboudit!

So if you find yourselves one the voices in the growing choir singing the hymn of “Bail Me Out, Baby,” may I suggest you ask yourself if you deserve a bailout or a swift kick in the pants.

If we had starting kicking some butts back in February 2008 instead of kissing and wiping butts, we would not be in the stinky situation we are in today.



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