“Life’s about choices,” said a college professor of mine. He taught finance and would impart to my classmates and me the importance of the decisions we all have as to how we use our money, time and resources. It was his mantra and something that he passed on, not only to his students, but his children as well.
For instance, he recalled an experience when his 8-year-old daughter and him were going on a walk around the neighborhood. He had told her to take her jacket because it was cold outside. “No, I don’t need it,” she proclaimed. He explained to her that she would get cold if she didn’t have her jacket, yet she still insisted she didn’t need it. “O.K.,” he said and they went on the walk.
A few blocks in she began grumbling about how cold it was and rubbing her arms. What did my professor do? Did he cut the walk off short? Did he take off his jacket and lovingly place it around his daughter? No, he made her walk the rest of the way home freezing her butt off. “Life’s about choices,” he explained to his daughter.
60 years ago people reading this article would say of this example, “Well done, he taught his daughter a valuable lesson.” But today, many reading this would cry, “Child Abuse!” “It was the father’s fault for not making her take her jacket!” “You can’t blame the daughter, she didn’t know, she can’t be held responsible!”
This is what’s wrong with our society. We’ve become a people that hold everyone responsible, but ourselves.
Never before have I seen so much blame being placed on everyone, but the person in the mirror. People waving angry fingers at big oil companies for high gas prices rather than blaming themselves for owning two S.U.V.’s and a boat. They completely ignore the law of supply and demand expecting that somehow prices will remain stagnant as consumption drastically increases.
This is like writing an angry letter to Hostess snack foods complaining about your recent weight gain while shoving 30 Twinkies in your gullet. Life’s about choices.
Or how about the debt-ridden homeowner’s shouting about the foul play of mortgage lenders who “deceived them” (code for I didn’t do my homework) and gave them their houses much too easily then DEMANDING government bail out for a house they had no business purchasing in the first place. Since when is your poor financial planning and decision making the government’s problem.
As Justice Casey Percell said, “It is not the responsibility of the government or the legal system to protect a citizen from himself.“ You made a poor choice, take your lumps and move on.
Is the economy in a slump, yes. But, who is really to blame? “Most of our economic wounds are self-inflicted, stemming from our inability to live within our means,” says Knight Kiplinger, Editor in Chief of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.
Many Americans live in a house — and drive a car — that eats up too much of their monthly budget. They dine out when they could be eating at home, and they indulge their children with trendy clothes. They mistake wants for needs.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love America. I believe in America and what it stands for. This is why something needs to change – and instead of demanding it from everyone else it has to start with us. Government bailout is not the answer, it will only prolong and maybe even exacerbate the problem.
As Herbert Spencer aptly spoke, “The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.”
Punishing corporations for their profits is not the answer, this will only send the message that in America you can try to be successful, but if you are too successful we’ll start taking your money. The answer lies in doing our homework and making the right choices. After all, at the end of the day it’s about taking a coat when it looks like it’s chilly outside. You can choose not to, it’s true, but don’t whine when you get cold. Life’s about choices.