This rant was prompted by recent events in the life of a colleague of mine whom I have always liked and respected, but whom I now truly revere for her dignity and commitment to doing what she believes to be the right thing in the face of adversity.
I'm a mother. I've given the "life is not fair, suck it up and deal with it" speech more times than I care to admit. However, sometimes the manifest injustice of the way things work in our country these days cause me to wonder if there is any hope for the survival of our traditional core American values of hard work and thrift.
We've taken the "pursuit of happiness" thing to dangerous extremes. These days, it appears to me that the addiction to consumption in our society is out of control. There seems to be no penalty or even any particular social stigma for living beyond one's means. Both businesses and individuals who have spent their way to the brink of disaster have been offered bailouts from the government. If you bought a house you can't afford, and you fail to make the payments, the government and the banks will help you. You can just let the bank foreclose, and move on. Or, you can file bankruptcy and keep at least some of your goodies.
However, what happens if you are one of those people who believes in being financially responsible? What happens if you bought a house you could afford at the time you purchased it, but your circumstances have changed through no fault of your own? What happens if you've cut back as far as you can without letting your children go hungry, and you've never missed a payment on anything in your life, but you're afraid that you might not be able to keep up with the mortgage? Well, these days it appears that if you are in that situation and you go to your bank and ask them to work with you, they will turn you down. They won't help you avoid default. They will only help you after you have failed to make your payments and wrecked your credit, and have bill collectors calling you at work. So, what do you do? Do you throw up your hands and skip a few payments and then ask for forgiveness from the bank or the government?
Some people might do that, but, some people still believe it's wrong not to pay your bills. They believe it is a mark against your character if you fail to meet your commitments. They believe that a person should live within their means, and when their income is reduced, they cut back on their spending. These people pay their bills, and take care of their children and show up on time for work every single day. When they fall on tough times, and they ask for a small break, they can't get it. Why? Because they're too responsible. That is beyond unfair. That is unjust and wrong!
If you're rich you can do as you please. If you're poor (or if you've impoverished yourself by financial irresponsibility) there are plenty of safety nets. It seems to me that the people in the middle can't get a break.
The people in the middle used to be considered the "backbone" of America, the salt of the earth citizens who fought in the wars and then came back and worked in the factories and offices that made America great. I believe the people in the middle are the every day heroes of our nation.
Now, it would appear the people in the middle fall into the category of suckers. God, I fear for our country!