I suppose things could be worse. Listening to the news tonight (not watching- I have a new quilt in the piecing stage right now), I noted several particularly problematic things.
* Senator Obama’s campaign has raised $440 million. Senator McCain’s campaign has raised $194 million. (As of the end of August, I think they said.) It isn’t the disparity in the numbers that bothers me (Planned Parenthood alone has been trumpeting that they plan to spend more than $200 million on this election cycle, and they aren’t the deepest pockets on the left end of the spectrum). It’s the sheer size. Given all of the problems in our own country, not to mention the rest of the world, why the heck do we “need” to spend $636 million dollars on political campaigns?
There was a newspaper article a few months back about complaints in Australia about the excessive length of the political campaigning season… it’s stretched to a whopping six whole weeks. Good grief, we have about six weeks to go right now, and we’ve already endured a year and a half of campaigning. Of course, after almost a year and a half of “Hope!” and “Change!”, it seems some of the shine is wearing off, so I guess there’s a positive side to the length, too. But I still can’t stomach the expense.
* A show the other day on Fox News (I forget which program) pointed out a pattern of terrorist attacks around elections. In Spain, the attack came before the election, and the terrorists got what they wanted: the Spanish elected a government that would immediately pull all of Spain’s troops out of Iraq. A year after the London bombings, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that he would step down, partially because of criticism of his support of the increasingly unpopular Iraq War. In Europe, the bombings seem to come before elections. In the U.S., they come after. The first bombing at the World Trade Center in New York City happened February 26, 1993, shortly after Bill Clinton’s inauguration. The second attack on the World Trade Center happened a little more than eight years later, shortly into George Bush’s first term. Should we be holding our breath next year?
* Of course, there’s the federal bailout of the mortgage giants (and quasi-governmental companies) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Somewhat understandable, but the bill is going to be painful. Commentators were predicting a final bailout price of $200 billion. Then, the government turned around and also bailed out AIG, a private company, saying that it was too big to let fail. Over the last few days, the stock market dived, recovered slightly, and dived again.
Meanwhile, in other news, there is talk of a possible merger between Wachovia and Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America just acquired Merrill Lynch, creating “a company unrivalled in its breadth of financial services and global reach,” according to BOA’s website. Isn’t this why we got stuck bailing out AIG? That it has such a huge international reach in various financial markets? Maybe we should be having a discussion on how big is too big. A discussion on personal responsibility, both for individual mortgage holders and for mortgage companies and those who trade in mortgages, is also in order.
Governor Palin made a comment in her interview with Sean Hannity (aired last night on Fox, more tonight) that too many companies are addicted to “opium, O-P-M, Other People’s Money.”
Aren’t we all? Isn’t that how we got here?
We have political campaigns spending money hand over fist (although Sen. Obama’s campaign is burning it twice as fast) to get elected. Could we do it cheaper? *shrug* Doesn’t matter, right? It’s OPM.
We have allowed our continued dependence on foreign oil to funnel our money into the hands of people who hate us. We’ve pointed fingers and said, “Those people over there should pay to develop alternative energy sources, not me.” It’s so easy to try to spend OPM.
We have bailed out people and companies who were party to mortgages that never should have been made. Partly, we had to bail them out because the federal government pushed for more mortgages to be available to people who can’t normally get them. Guess what? If you are poor, don’t have much of a downpayment, and/or don’t have proof of regular employment, then, heck no, the bank doesn’t want to lend you money, because they’re pretty sure they won’t get it back. And, too often, they didn’t get it back, and now we’re all paying for it. Our taxdollars just became OPM for AIG, Freddie, and Fannie.
We borrow to buy bigger cars, fancier houses, dinner, clothes, and everything else. It’s just plastic, right? It isn’t real money, right? And we have racked up an average consumer debt of about $8,500 per person on credit cards. Our economy is resting on all of us consumers spending OPM. Yeah, the “fundamentals of our economy” (as in a great workforce, American ingenuity, and all that) may be strong, but our spending habits stink, and it’s way past time we realized that.
We need to stop treating all of this as Other People’s Money and start treating it as my money, for which I will be held accountable. No more excuses. No more, “I’ll pay off the Visa next month,” at home or, “We’ll balance the budget next year,” in Congress.
Personal responsibility and self-control are the only methods of detox from OPM.
Detox is never fun, but the destination is worth it.
(My milk was just delivered (which would mean it’s a really awful hour of the morning)… some day, I’m going to learn some “personal responsibility” about turning off the blog and going to bed at a reasonable hour. Maybe tomorrow. 😉 )