Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tea Party Anger Dissected

Yes, the Tea Partiers are angry. We have every right to be. You see, we grew up in a country where we were told that each and every one of us was free to pursue our personal interpretation of happiness. We are moral people. We played by the rules. But the rules have changed, and that has left us feeling used and demoralized. We are incensed by the very notion that, having lived our lives within the moral and social guidelines that we trusted would not fail us, we find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of uncertainty for our future and the future of our beloved country.

We are the ones who studied hard, worked hard, and were able to enjoy our lives and had the ability to do whatever we desired, whether it was to travel, buy the newest gadget or the nicest automobile, give to our children, save for our retirement, as a result of that effort. That is what America is all about, what capitalism is all about.

We bought houses with substantial down payments (either from saving or “trading up”) and fully documented mortgages where we knew we could afford the payments. We did not take the easy way out. We dutifully saved money, taking advantage of IRAs and 401Ks, wanting to secure a comfortable retirement.

There were rumblings of a “housing bubble”, and bad mortgages, but our illustrious leaders assured us that everything was stable, everything was safe...until it wasn’t.

Many of us held good positions with good companies, but this recession has left us unemployed or underemployed. And we are looking around, wondering what happened. Our government has borrowed from our future and our children’s future to bail out banks, mortgage companies, insurance companies, automobile companies, all considered too big to fail. Our neighbors who took advantage of cheap and easy mortgage financing to buy a bigger house, knowing full well that they could never afford the payment, have been portrayed as the “victims” in this financial disaster. That was not supposed to happen. We were under the impression, apparently a false impression, that if a company or individual did not “live within its’ means” and refused to take corrective action, they would file bankruptcy and/or go out of business, much like what would surely happen to us if we did the same.

The government caused this collapse by deregulating mortgage finance requirements and convincing just about everyone that they deserved a home, that it was their right to own a home. To make the situation worse, banks and lenders that were hesitant to make these risky mortgages were threatened with charges of discrimination if they did not comply. Since these mortgages were FNMA and FHLMC compliant they were able to originate and sell them. It became easy money, and when the government sanctioned, even forced, their will on these businesses, they got greedy. I do not blame them totally. This was a combined effort of the federal government, banks and lenders, and borrowers. They are all culpable.

But somehow, it is we the Tea Partiers who are left holding an empty bag. You know, we who played by the rules, who did what was right, who did not “game” the system.

That is why we are angry!

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