Responsibility, American Style

That was some housing bubble. In about six years, Americans together, built homes or created mortgages equal to ten years of demand. This artificial acceleration of four years housing demand disturbed the natural market forces that drive our economy, accelerating economic benefit from 2002 thru 2008. Three years later, we have yet to recover from the damage.  After all, when you borrow 4 years of demand from the future, it takes at least 4 years of no demand to pay it back. Our recovery will most likely take longer because nature always wins. In this case natural market forces require the payback now… as houses sit empty across the country with years of underwater mortgages yet to be foreclosed upon.

The finger of blame for the housing crash points in many directions. Movies have been made about it. Three U.S. presidents, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, Wall Street, the major banks, sub-prime lenders, the over-extended irresponsible homeowner, unscrupulous mortgage underwriters and even the credit rating agencies have all come under fire for their contribution to the mess. Has anyone stood up and actually taken responsibility? No. Not one. This horrendous financial meltdown has, incredibly, no face. Not one person has stood up and expressed any sentiments of ownership for the greatest recession since the Great Depression. Now that’s responsibility…  American style.

So just where should the finger point? Who is ultimately to blame? I want to be the first to say, “It was me..., I did it.” I benefited from the economic growth that came from the housing bubble’s super-sized opportunities. My 401k and IRA’s were invested in the very banks and financial instruments that facilitated the bubble and I held stock in Home Depot as well as other suppliers of materials to the housing industry. My private sector job and salary was a result of my employers business in the housing industry. I helped elect the congressional representative that served just prior to and during the housing bubble, making it possible for them to allow it and I stood by and watched my government grow to spend the inflated revenues that came with the economic expansion. There, I said it. “I accept responsibility for the greatest recession since the Great Depression.”

Responsibility is simple. Earn your way. Own your obligations. Make right your mistakes. How about we all, once again, commit to earn our way, to work for what we get, to enter into and meet obligations fairly and honestly? How about we make right the housing bubble mistake by demanding policies that preclude artificial market manipulation and hold those accountable in violation of existing laws? How about we allow natural market forces to provide our opportunities? How about when we hear politicians say, “Let’s build more infrastructure.” we say no to plans that borrow jobs or anything else from the future? No more stimulus and no more bail-outs. How about we spend responsibly, within our means, and take our medicine? Responsibility starts with you. Be responsible and expect it in others.

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