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

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Borrower Beware

I originally intended to sit here on my pedestal (chair in front of my kitchen table) and verbally abuse the Big Three Detroit Automakers for asking the government for money.

I originally intended to go on and on about these greedy bastards. They ran one of America's finest industries into the ground and had no one but themselves to blame. Capitalism is capitalism and when you fail you fail. Clearly these men were not fit to run their companies and those companies paid the price.

I originally intended to take Autoworkers Unions to my Time New Roman chopping block. Maybe if these backwards little collectives had been able to accept JUST a little smaller of a salary or JUST a few less benefits, then these corporations would have saved enough money to run a profitable business. The me-first mentality and xenophobia of the modern American worker were clearly to blame.

I originally intended to chastise the Big Three for failing and for asking for a government in a time of need.

I originally intended to say a lot of mean things about a lot of people...but then I checked my e-mail.

I logged onto my school account to see if I had any new comments on my blog (seriously, people, I need some love every now and then), and there, staring me in the face, was a notification that my request for a Federal Student Loan had gone through. Hypocrisy, thy name is Alec Bojalad. Here I was, getting a little big for my britches with the megaphone I like to call "The Collective(ly) Unconscious," and the Universe came in to smack some sense into me. But the whole experience has now confirmed something for me: America has become a nation of borrowers.

Everyone borrows from the community pot nowadays. Students borrow from the government to get through a college education, and subsequently get that deluxe apartment in the sky. Banks borrow from the government when their erratic spending habits got out of control and they need capital to survive. And manufacturing corporations borrow from the government when the Well is dry and the only hope left is some of Uncle Sam's petty cash.

Americans have been borrowing since the Great Depression robbed them of their wealth and their dignity. Suddenly (and understandably), the government went from being that dark figure that should be avoided at all costs to being a father figure who was willing to reach into his back pocket and pull out his wallet when the times were hard on you. We took advantage of Roosevelt's New Deal policies to save us from the soup-line. And once the coin purse was open, it became damn hard to close.

Now, in one of the worst economic downturns in economic history, it is the Auto Industry's turn to get in line and beg. Much like they did in the early 1980s, the Big Three are asking the government for a loan. General Motors wants $18 million to save themselves from bankruptcy. Ford wants $9 million to be able to make a profit by 2011. Chrysler wants $7 million by the end of December to stay up and running. And much like in the early 1980s, there is a good chance that the Big Three will get these loans. Afterall, the automobiles are essential to the American identity and after dedicating $700 billion to failing banks, $34 billion must seem like a light lunch at Applebee's to Congress.

The Big Three will get their money, but they might have to surrender something else in return. The Giver always has leverage over the Borrower. The Giver can suggest that the Borrower do something in return for the Borrowed item, or the Giver can make a "friendly suggestion" to the Borrower of how to avoid the need to Borrow next time. Every time an American turns to Uncle Sam, he or she loses a little piece of something important.

Is it Freedom? No, we still have plenty of that. Justice? No, that is still going strong. What about Independence?

Kiss it goodbye.

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