I’m Responsible For The Economic Crisis On Wall Street

The news out of Wall Street and Washington over the past week has been grim.  We’re on the verge of an economic meltdown.  Congress needs to pass a record $700 billion bailout package or we could see the US economy grind to a halt.

When the House of Representatives failed to pass their version of the bailout bill on Monday, the Dow Jone’s Industrial Average plunged 777 points, the most in history.  Some economists and politicians are even tossing around the word “depression” to describe the dire potential of our current situation.

How did we get here?  I’m not an economist, so I’ll spare you my half-baked explanations.  The Cliffnotes summary: mortgage-related investments from the sub-prime lending crisis that caused the collapse of several large financial institutions are now causing a credit crunch that threatens the entire US economy.

The talking heads on the TV have been holding a finger-pointing festival.  The Democrats are blaming the Republicans for excessive deregulation.  The Republicans are pointing right back at the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.   Others are blaming greed on Wall Street, or corruption at the local banking levels during the real estate bubble before the sub-prime bust.

I’m To Blame

The truth is, I’m to blame for the current economic crisis.

No, I’m not a Wall Street investor, nor am I wealthy by any US financial definition.  In fact, I don’t care one bit if they raise the FDIC limit up from $100,000; I only need about 1% of the current limit to cover my savings.

That’s precisely why I’m to blame for the US economic woes: my lifestyle has caused this crisis.  I’m living beyond my means.  I’m not saving enough.  I have more house than I can afford.  I have too many cars in the driveway.

I complain about the price of gas, but I keep right on driving.  I worry about manufacturing jobs going overseas, but I demand the lowest prices at Walmart.  I have cell phones, computers, and multiple televisions with satellite feeds, and I call them all necessities.

I live pay check to pay check.  I make large purchases at 12 months-same-as-cash sales.  I’m too busy chasing the “American Dream” and keeping-up-with-the-Jones to worry about the consequences of my daily financial decisions.

Once or twice a month, I do the bills and balance the checkbook.  I feel anger, frustration, and fear.  I vow to do better, but I make no plans, I take no action.  And the next time that I feel too tired to cook dinner, I’ll take the family to the restaurant.

It’s Time To Make A Choice

We live in a land of plenty.  There is more than enough for all of us.

But I have been greedy.

The ends don’t justify the means.  My comfortable life has come at a great cost.  What I have somehow became more important than how I live.

I’ve done harm not only to our economy, but to my family, my fellow man, our nation, our environment, and our world.

We have an important national election coming up shortly.  You’re welcome to your opinion on who’s best suited to lead us through the issues we now face in our country, Obama or McCain.

But keep this in mind: you have the opportunity to vote for the President just once every four years.  You have the opportunity to vote daily on our collective future with your spending decisions.

As for me, I’ll be focusing on the more important campaign.

Feel free to hold me accountable.  I need all the help I can get.  I’ll be writing more in the future on the choices I’m making.  I’d appreciate any coaching or suggestions you care to offer.

Oh, and sorry about the mess I made.