Mortgage Bailout Further Proof That ‘Responsibility’ is a Dirty Word in Congress

August 11, 2008 9:47PM

By Michael Lumley President Bush’s decision to sign the sub-prime mortgage bailout last Wednesday is more evidence that big government compassion has trumped common sense as a legislative goal. The $42 billion scheme costs taxpayers roughly the same amount as the gross domestic products of Jamaica, Costa Rica and the Bahamas combined – all to bail out sub-prime borrowers who purchased homes they could not afford. It’s ok though, we’re told, because these borrowers weren’t foolhardy speculators looking to have it all and pay later. No, they were simply caught up in a financial panic they couldn’t hope to anticipate or avoid. They were helpless. They were victims. Welcome to America. We’re all helpless. We’re all victims. We are victims of fast-food chains, who force us into obesity by offering “super-sized” meals and no healthy alternative. We are victims of oil companies, which profit obscenely while the little guy with the gas guzzling SUV feels the pain at the pump. We are victims of big tobacco, big alcohol, big government, big oil, big business, big brother, big pharmaceutical, big insurance and probably even the big bad wolf somewhere along the way. Our legal and political systems encourage victimhood. We bail out banks whose managerial blundering makes the sinking of the Titanic look like a minor malfunction. We award monstrously large settlements to greedy litigants who look for any excuse to sue. These victims are like the NBA players who dive all over the court trying to fake a foul. Worse, like a bad referee, our government always makes the wrong call. America gets what it encourages, and sadly, we often reward those who take the fall. This is not to say that our society is without real victims, but burning your tongue on McDonald’s coffee does not make you one of them. Neither does borrowing too much – of your own volition – ignoring the fine print and getting yourself into a home you can’t afford. Eventually people must take responsibility for their actions, and deal with the consequences of poor financial planning. Unfortunately, that’s not happening. Responsibility is a word Americans have come to hate. We’re ‘compassionate.’ We’re ‘caring.’ But because of our penchant for pity, when things get dicey, too many people turn to the government with large, teary, eyes and trembling lower lips. Then the taxpayers are expected to pull out the checkbook – to the tune of $42 billion, this time around – and if anyone objects, they are labeled heartless or cruel. Well, I object. We’ve already indulged the victims of this particular crisis for far too long – first with the bank bailouts, and then the tax rebates and the interest rate cuts. Worse, the bill is hopelessly inefficient – for the same cost, we could have given every homeowner under foreclosure nearly $60,000 to help pay their mortgage bills. But most importantly, this bailout still rewards bad decision making, relieving Americans from responsibility for their mistakes and sticking hardworking taxpayers with the bill. That only leads to more of the same. And if you give a mouse a cookie… # # #