My photo
Athens, Ohio, United States
"Art and love are the same thing. It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you."

Monday, September 29, 2008

What is Right

I rarely get to be on the cutting edge of the news so this will be a new experience for me.

 The Associated Press reported two minutes ago that the House voted down President Bush's emergency $700 billion bailout plan. 

Even before the plan was shot down, Wall Street seemed to smell something was up and the Dow stocks fell over 500 points.

So that's it. That's the news. In short, I got my way. In an unprecedented move for me, I devoted two whole blog entries this past week (this makes three) to America's flagging economy. The bailout seemed like a done deal then and I was quick to question its effectiveness. To me, it seemed like an irresponsible move. America's future has already been jeopardized  by our mounting debt and the bailout just seemed to add more money on top of that. I don't know every intricate detail of the economy but I know what is right and that wasn't.

And now comes this day. This day, I am no longer one of many voices in the ether yelling "nay". This day I am now one who supports the majority. What I wanted happened and now I have to deal with it. Because I know what I wanted was fair but none of us know if what I wanted, what many wanted is safe. Like it or not, we as Americans are closely interconnected. We live disparate lives and tend to our own, but the culture we have created is that of reliance. If one of us falls, we all feel it. If the economy fails because of bad decisions made by the few, all feel the repercussions. 

President Bush believed strongly in this bailout plan, more strongly perhaps than any other issue he has dealt with during his presidency. Maybe it was because he was buddy-buddy with corporate America or maybe it was because he truly believed that the bailout was what is right for the American people. 

Congress said no. Just simply no. Some congressmen and women didn't feel well versed enough on the issue. Some just wanted to get the damned thing over with so they could hit the campaign trail before November 4 came. But many inevitably though it was what was right.

Whether it be through man or fate, the American people now have to face a difficult challenge. Because now we must finally face what is right instead of what is safe. It is safe to accept the bailout plan and face the devil you know now instead of the devil that you must face later. After all, that $9 trillion in debt is just a number, right? It hasn't hurt us now and why would it hurt us later? And if the economy if hurting us now, let's just toss $700 billion extra onto that debt. That is safe and that doesn't scare us. But that is not what is right.

We are now past the time where we can listen to presidential candidates promises to fix the economy. They can't fix the economy. Only we can. But between playing Guitar Hero, catching up on episodes of CSI and repainting our house to keep up with that snide bastard next door, it can be hard to find the time to act like a responsible adult and be smart with our money.  So we spend what we want to spend and buy what we want to buy even when we have more than enough. Then every four years we walk out of an election booth, satisfied that we are helping the economy by voting for the man who has the prettiest promises of economic prosperity.

The truth is: we are not entitled to anything. That is not right and that is not fair. It isn't our birthright as Americans to be economically successful. Corporations do not owe us anything. The government does not owe us anything. America wasn't founded so its citizens can watch the free market and wait for someone to blame. America wasn't founded so it citizens can be rescued by the government when things got too tough. We failed and the economy failed. And now we have to live and deal with a real challenge for the first time in decades. That is what is right.

Right is taking responsibility for your actions. Right is spending money when you have it and saving it when you don't. Right is facing challenges on your own. Right is succeeding or failing. Right is adapting or dying. Right is acting like an adult.

Right is acting like an American

We are all  partly responsible for the success and failures of all our brothers all our sisters and all our neighbors. I do not know much about economics but I get the distinct feeling that some pretty tough times lie ahead. As the masters of our own destinies we must finally face this so future generations don't have to.

After all, being an American means shouldering as much power as all the Emperors the world has seen. We need to take this responsibility seriously. But don't worry...there will always be time for Guitar Hero and CSI.


Woozie said...

I'm sure there's a reason why the debt matters, but nearing the $10 trillion mark it's not like we're ever going to pay it back even if we could.

Anonymous said...

While you make your case very well, I tend to disagree with some of your statements. You said that we live in a society of reliance. The American system is grounded in the precept that the strong triumph and the weak fail. The other side of upward mobility is the ability to lay stagnant at the bottom, being stepped on by others, as is all to common in America today. Likewise, while you claim the government is not supposed to support people when things get rough, you have no problem attributing the problem to each and every American. What about the people who can't save because they are getting absolutley no help from anyone, is the financial crisis their fault too? American's compulsive consumerism does nothing to help the situation, but it is not the root cause. The very corporations now suffering are the ones to blaim. Corporate greed and lack of regulation has allowed them to reek as much havoc as they saw fit on the economy, all in the intrest of buying that third boat. It is vital to unite to fight our wasteful spending, but if we don't deal with the primarily guilty parties now, we risk letting the cycle of history repeat itself in the future. I mean no disrespect in any of my remarks. I simply see things differently. I applaud your engagement of so difficult an issue; open and frank discussion is the only way the problem will ever be solved. (For the record, I was also opposed to the bailout)

A.G.B said...

Well argued, sir. I am not the most conservative man on the planet and do not believe in this point to the extreme that people who truly cannot look after themselves should be expected to. I am not intimately familiar with the inner workings with all the corporations targeted by the bailout so I can't say much regarding their good deeds or bad. The intent of the post was to stress the absolute importance of personal responsibility in this country over almost any other principle. Some of it was ideological and much of it was an argument but I think most of it was frustration over supposedly independent adults in America looking toward the government to fix their problems instead of educating themselves and investing responsibly.

Anonymous said...

I would agree, about America stressing self-reliance above all else. You're right, also, about the people who can change things. They are out there; it is very easy to blaim the CEOs for everything, and fail to take into account the private citizens who are sitting idly by and watching Rome burn.