Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's all your fault, whoever you are.

Down in the Marmot's Hole whine cellar, commenter "tinyflowers" blames the average American for the economic meltdown:
The root cause of Great Depression 2.0 isn’t exhorbitant executive pay, it isn’t tax cuts, or overspending by government, or complicit lenders (though all of these are contributing factors). The root cause is average Americans, like our Octo-Mon here, overextending themselves (pardon the pun), living beyond their means, buying houses they cannot afford, and passing off their bad debts and responsibilities to someone else. What happened to personal responsibility? Where did these people gain such a grotesque sense of self-entitlement? I’m sure the new regime in Washington will try to scapegoat the CEOs and upper class, but the fault lies with millions of individual middle class Americans making poor financial decisions, for themselves, their families, and their country.
Hmm... could be true, though I would think that the financial sector people throwing cleverly crafted lending instruments at them and then mixing those questionable loans in with the solid ones had a lot to do with it. 

If I had to come up with an analogy, I guess I'd say that blaming a new homeowner for not realizing that the legal loan that his/her bank or lending institution was offering was going to become an albatross around the neck of the entire free world's financial system is akin to, well, blaming a patient for not realizing that his doctor is committing malpractice. 

But there might be something to what tinyflowers is saying, and I think Frank Grimes said it first. Indeed, for a little insight on what went wrong, here are some words of wisdom from the late great Frank Grimes, the upstanding American:
God, I've had to work hard every day of my life, and what do I have to show for it? This briefcase and this haircut! And what do you have to show for your lifetime of sloth and ignorance?


Everything! A dream house! Two cars! A beautiful wife! A son who owns a factory! Fancy clothes and [sniffs air] lobsters for dinner. And do you deserve any of it? No!

[gasps] What are you saying?

I'm saying you're what's wrong with America, Simpson. You coast through life, you do as little as possible, and you leech off of decent, hardworking people like me. Heh, if you lived in any other country in the world, you'd have starved to death long ago.

He's got you there, Dad.

You're a fraud. A total fraud. [leaves]
That's right. The Simpsons called it in May 1997. 

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