For months I have expressed my concern regarding the direction the current administration starting taking in January 2009, a journey that, for many, leads only to fiscal and moral destruction. I am equally concerned now with the road of irresponsibility many everyday Americans also travel.
Since the financial crisis of 2008, not a day goes by without commercials encouraging those who have credit-card debt above $10,000 to call an 800 number and the debt will be reduced by as much as 80 percent. There are similar offers to dramatically reduce back taxes.
Are people really that gullible and irresponsible? Do they not realize there is no free lunch and someone or some entity will be paying for their poor choices?
Has it come to the point in America where all the people believe they are entitled to the same bailouts everyone else had received? I guess now if someone else got away with murder, it is now acceptable to commit murder? That attitude will cause huge long-term problems. Keep in mind, banks were bailed out, but they paid the money back. Can we say the same for foreclosed homes, reduced credit-card balances and back taxes?
Members of my own family have experienced scenarios in where homes they purchased at the height of the market are now worth substantially less. In some cases, they are worth less than the mortgage, yet not one is thinking of walking away or defaulting.
My own daughter, who has maintained a perfect payment record, inquired about a more favorable interest rate. She was told she would have to be delinquent, past due or in default. Then, and only then, the bank would offer her a lower rate, maybe even a reduction in principle. No way! She honors her commitment because doing right thing is the right thing to do.
However, I have friends who actually encouraged their children to stop paying their mortgage, allow the home to go into foreclosure and then walk away from the home because the mortgage exceeded the value of the home. Or they suggest forcing the bank to reduce the principle and rate of interest. And while fully capable of paying, they chose to default with no sense of guilt about breaking their commitment. Their argument? Why should my kids lose money on a home that went down in value?
When I challenged one friend about encouraging his child to do so, I was asked, "Why should my daughter have to pay for something that is not worth what she paid for it?" He told me it wasn't her fault the real-estate market collapsed.
Is he kidding me?
In 1989, my wife and I bought a home that two short years later was worth half of what we paid. We continued to work our tails off to make the payments and never thought about default. What a difference two decades make. It seems today if you don't like what you purchased, you just walk away and stick someone else with the bill. What is the difference between doing that and stealing?
There is a growing attitude that everyone deserves to win in America. And if one happens to lose, someone else is responsible. Bailouts for everyone.
Can't pay your taxes? Call this number and a service will negotiate with the IRS to take half of what you owe. Don't like your husband or wife? Call this number and buy a simple divorce package to walk away from the vow you took before man and God. Don't like the way your car is running? Stop paying, have the repo man come get it. Then go out and buy another car with no credit check.
If we keep moving in this direction, we will be in serious trouble. When someone signs their name, takes a vow or makes a commitment, he or she should honor it. If circumstances happen that preclude that person from honoring their word and it is beyond their capacity to do so, I understand. That is why bankruptcy and divorce laws were created. But to just walk away because a marriage is "unhappy" or the value of a home or car has dropped without any sense of guilt or shame? That is insane and, more importantly, immoral. It cuts at the fabric that holds us together.
People not paying their bills, politicians not fulfilling campaign promises, business people breaking contracts, married couples not honoring vows, fathers not paying child support and athletes cheating the system to break records – these are just the tip of the iceberg. Even lying has become acceptable if it gets one off the hook and avoids personal responsibility. Drivers lie to police. Bosses tell secretaries to lie. Climatologists fudge the data. The list goes on and on.
No wonder there is such disillusionment with the state of affairs in America today. People are putting more trust in the lie than the truth and pawning off responsibilities on others sets the stage for all freedom to be lost to a "Big Brother" who will bail us out regardless of the circumstances or bad behavior, just as long as the person in question can spin a good tale.
The absence of honor is a growing problem in America. It is said morality cannot be legislated. Morality is something that should be in each one of us. We must get past the thinking that if they bailed out the banks and car companies they should bail out the people. Two wrongs merely make a bigger wrong.
So while everyone is pointing out the lack of honor in D.C., we should not allow our personal honor to be sold at the cheap price of a better deal or a lower payment. When reductions are extended, someone is paying the bill. Banks were bailed out and then paid the money back with interest to the government. When an irresponsible homeowner walks away from a mortgage, those who make their payments on time are the ones who take the hit. When losers who went hog wild on credit cards get 75 percent reductions on the balance, the cost is passed on to people who pay on time in the form of much higher rates.
There is no free lunch. Someone is paying. Generally it is the people who play by the rules, honor their commitments and don't even think to do otherwise. They pay for the losers who game the system.
My dad once told me, "Money doesn't grow on trees." Apparently, he had never been to Washington, D.C. For the rest of us, it generally grows from hard work. In many cases money can come from borrowing, and when it does it should be paid back. We need to let our "yes" be "yes" and "no" be "no." Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do – regardless of what the deadbeats do.
Let's not let that change. We pledge allegiance to a flag and then allow people to desecrate it in the name of free speech. We say "I do" at the altar and then don't. We sign a "note," a promise to pay, and then stop paying. Politicians pledge to defend the Constitution and then ignore it. This all must change.
It all starts with us, the individuals. We the people must be armed with honor. It is time to restore the lost art of honor. One's word must be given as a guarantee of performance, and we must maintain a keen sense of ethical conduct. People who dishonor their word should be punished and ostracized, not rewarded.
If we want our country back, we must begin by honoring our word.
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