Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rewarding the Wrong

Do you pay your credit card bills on time? Maybe you don't pay them in full, but you always make certain that, if nothing else, the minimum payment shows up when it's supposed to. I do to. The same goes for my mortgage. In fact, I do this for all of my bills. It's a habit that I developed, because I never wanted to lose my car or house - or anything else for that matter. Now, however, there is new legislation in place to safeguard those who did screw up their finances from having to pay the penalties. Listen, I understand that people need a break, and that the economy is in rough shape. The problem is the reason that the economy is in such rough shape is because of carelessness combined with a lack of consequence. How many college freshmen signed up for, and received, credit cards on the first day of school? At the University at Albany, I saw at least two card vendors setting up shop right inside my quad. Now, at 18 years old, I had no business with a credit card, but that didn't stop someone from giving it to me.

Now, let's back up for a moment, because it might sound like I'm taking both sides at once. An 18 year old kid suckered into debt should have a shot at fixing things, you're thinking... except, this is one of life's hard lessons that needed to be learned by yours truly, and should be learned by everyone else. If you don't pay your bills, and you get behind, then your rates should be jacked up. If you miss a few payments, you should have penalty fees. If you don't, what is there to prevent you from doing it again and again? Responsibility, folks, is something that has gone out of style in America, and it's about time we start taking it back a little. Speaking of which...

The banks brought all of this on themselves. Read that one more time. The mess that the banks are in, it isn't the fault of the people who put themselves in debt, it was the fault of the banks, driven by greed, under the false banner of a fictitious American Dream. I'm hear to announce a very harsh stance, ladies and gentlemen, and this is that you do not have a right to own your own home. Honestly, it's that simple. If you decided against even attending community college, took a retail or food service job and just hang there on the level that you are at, never working any harder than you have to in order to get by... then, you are missing a core part of living the American Dream. You see, the Dream is that anyone can achieve anything through hard work - there isn't a clause about having it handed to you for breathing. My grandfather went to night classes and didn't just earn a degree but a master's. He worked himself up. As a youngster out of high school, before joining the army, he would go to school one semester and work the next in order to pay for the following semester. No credit cards, straight cash.

Plain as day, the banks should never have awarded credit cards to everyone and anyone. Simple as anything, the banks should not have provided mortgages for $500,000 houses to people with a combined family income of $50,000. No, you do not get to keep your house. You honestly should never have bought that house to begin with. You knew it, the banks knew it, but no one thought any of this would catch up to us. Now, however, it has. And now the banks are raising the rates for those of us who actually have paid our credit card bills, to try and recoup their losses. Banks make it harder to refinance for those of us who have never ever missed a mortgage payment (and those of us who have even paid more towards principle). It's a mess. And it's everyone's fault. Yes, even mine. And it is honestly time for us to take a little responsibility for it. Pay your blasted bills.

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