Saturday, June 16, 2012

Decisions Made By Mature Adults

Are you a "victim" of anything other than your own malfeasance?

A lot of folks in the USA like to pretend that they are put-upon "victims" of the "system" - as if their lifestyle and wealth was not in fact in the top 95% for the planet.   No, no, the way they tell it, those starving kids in sub-Saharan Africa don't know how lucky they have it!

And while we can sort of feel sorry for some stupid 18-year-old who signs his future away with $100,000 in student loan debts, most of these folks are whining because they made poor decisions as rational, mature adults.

Take, for example, the housing crises.   People bought more home than they could afford, without getting out a calculator and seeing whether it was a smart idea.

We are told that this is the bank's fault, for "tricking" them into doing this.   And while the bank made a poor decision in loaning money to people who could ill-afford to pay it back, the banks are also reaping what they have sown - in terms of losses and plunging stock prices.

But of course, no one feels sorry for a bank, right?  They are run by rational, mature adults who should know better than to offer funny-money loans.

But for some reason, we are supposed to feel sorry for 30- and 40-year-old "consumers" who make the same bad decisions, but on the other side of the deal.

Here's the deal:  Once you are an adult, you are responsible for your own life.  You have the freedom to do what you want to, but also the responsibility to do things right - to make smart decisions and not just squander your whole life away in credit card payments and new car leases.

You are handed responsibility once you turn age 18, what you do with it is your choice.

Choose wisely.  Or else.

A lot of folks think otherwise.   They want to tell us that we are all big, stupid children, who cannot make rational decision for ourselves.   So, they say, the government must step in and clean up our messes and also pass laws preventing us from making bad choices.

And while this might be an "answer" to our problems, I think we need to think carefully about where this is heading.

Freedom is a tricky thing.   If you are free, you are free to make your own choices in life.   Smart choices, dumb choices, and really, really dumb choices.

And the very people we are trying to "protect" through legislation are often the first to protest at these loss of freedoms.

For example, if you actually read this blog, you will know that I think gambling (or "gaming" as they like to call it) is idiotic and basically criminal.   And yet, in my lifetime, our country has changed dramatically in this regard.  In 1965, the only place you could gamble, legally, was in Nevada.  Today, there are casinos in nearly every State, and the government itself runs numbers in the lottery.

Would I outlaw gambling?   Well, it serves no useful social purpose, it ruins lives, it squanders money from those who least can afford to lose it.   Yea, it is bad.  But if I tried to outlaw gambling, who would scream bloody murder the loudest?

The gamblers, of course.   They are idiots, but they seem to enjoy being idiots.  You can't save people from themselves.

And so, I don't feel "sorry" for gamblers who lose it all at the Casino.  And I don't feel "sorry" for the homeowner who thought he could "buy and flip" a mini-mansion.   Or even the homeowner who just made a dumb decision and thought that they "deserved" a nice house, when it costs twice as much as renting.

None of us has a "right" to things we cannot afford.   We all should live within our means.   Bailing out gamblers with government money makes no sense, just as bailing out homeowners with government money makes no sense.

The decisions to squander money were made by rational mature adults.  And I know this as all the decisions I made in life to squander money were made by a rational mature adult - namely me.   No one feels "sorry" for me for the money I lost over the years.   Shouldn't I get a bailout, too?

We need to stop viewing ourselves as "victims" of external forces and own up to our own difficulties.  It is  as simple as that.