Friday, April 4, 2008

We're All Responsible for Ourselves

I wrote the following to an individual who said the U.S. was falling behind other countries in developing renewable energy sources, living up to the spirit of the Kyoto Treaty, preserving manufacturing jobs, and assisting people in financial distress.

I hold a different view than you do. I've been reading in The (London) Economist about Europe's backsliding on its "commitments" to the Kyoto Treaty. Admittedly, Europe and Japan are doing a better job with nuclear power than we are.

I heard today that Wal-Mart and Target were doing very well, while the upscale shops are seeing declines. Wal-Mart and Target do well because they offer low-cost goods, many of them from China. Low-cost goods are not bad for the economy, except for people who want to pay higher prices.

People in India (which has more people in the middle class than the U.S.) and China are not big fans of abject poverty, and they are doing a good job of digging their way out. That isn't bad news either.

It’s not true that we have no control over our economic lives. If we’re buying things we can’t afford, then we need to re-focus our lives on a more sustainable basis.In the last 3-4 years, I have spent approximately $1,000 on gasoline -- total. Somehow, $3.50 gallon gasoline doesn't bother me, because I don't buy it. I live in an old mill town, which I love, in a house that cost so little that I can actually afford it.

My total credit card debt? Zero dollars and zero cents.I know I'm supposed to feel the pain of people who are financially gasping for air. But I find it hard to shed tears for somebody who has two SUVs – I have none – and a house that cost five times as much as mine did.

People need to make better decisions -- and not believe that the "government" is going to save them. We have seen the government -- and it (at least its tax revenues) is us.

I remember during the Florida Primary, many Floridians wanted John McCain to support higher insurance rates for those of us in the Rust Belt so Sunshine State homeowners in hurricane-prone areas could pay lower rates. McCain refused. Good for him.

McCain said yesterday that he's not an economic expert but he knows a lot more about the economy than Obama and Clinton. He's correct. He knows that giving handouts to people who’ve made poor decisions literally involves throwing good money after bad.

In the end, we're all responsible for ourselves. We should restrict our assistance to those who are floundering through no fault of their own.

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