Letter to the editor: An open letter to Congress and the President
"What is Congress doing to 'hold harmless' those of us who have done everything 'right' but who, through no fault of our own, are paying the penalty for those whose greed, lies, imprudent financial decisions, speculations, and bad (governmental) policy decisions have caused the current financial crisis?".
Over the course of the past few weeks we, the American people, have been treated to all the cynical, partisan, self-serving finger pointing, have become well versed on the real and manufactured causes of this crisis, and have heard all about the "bailouts" (HR 1424) for those whose greed, lies, imprudent financial decisions, and speculations are at the root of this crisis; what we haven't heard is one word about "bailouts" for the rest of us who are innocent victims. Let me describe this universal "us" using my own situation as an example.
First of all let me say my wife and I realize how fortunate we've been in our lives, but let me add that our good fortune, like that of the millions of Americans who are like us, came as a result of consistent hard work, planning, and sacrifice over the course of many years. Over our working lives my wife and I have been both employees and employers; through our own efforts we built a business that eventually, and currently, employs several hundred people. At a point in our lives some 10 years ago, for personal reasons that I won't bore you with at this time, we decided it might be time to sell our business and retire. We examined our financial position and decided that the funds we would realize from the sale of the business would be sufficient, when conservatively invested, to easily provide us with a comfortable, stress free retirement. Throughout our working lives we did all the right things; we paid our bills on time, saved money, bought cars we could afford, bought homes with mortgages which we could afford, and paid an honest tax. In our retirement we continued to make prudent financial decisions . . . we didn't live the flamboyant lifestyle that one would assume we could based on our "wealth", instead we settled into a comfortable, middle income life style.
When this current crisis hit, we like millions of other innocent Americans, found our retirement nest-eggs being eroded away; in just the months of September and October many of us realized a decline in our "nest eggs" of between 25 and 30 percent and we are faced with even greater loses on the horizon with no one advocating for us and the millions of Americans like us. Instead you, the President and Congress, apparently expect us to quietly absorb our loses. I know we should feel blessed to have what we have or have had, and I'm sure I speak for all Americans when I say, we do, but at the same time I am angered every time I hear that between 700 billion and 1 trillion dollars are earmarked to bailout the miscreants whose actions have precipitated this crisis. I am angered when I hear that additional "bailouts" are being extended to other industries, like the auto industry (to whom $25 billion dollars in bailouts have already been earmarked for and who are now asking for an additional $25 billion dollars), and whose incompetent management and inability to compete have caused their problems. I am angered when I hear plans put forth to reduce the mortgages of people who should never have been given a mortgage to begin with to levels they "can" afford and I am angered when I see that corporate executives (who have profited from the "toxic loans" their companies made) continue to receive tens of millions of dollars in bonuses, enjoy posh "retreats" at exclusive spas, and are allowed to keep the hundreds of millions they've already "stolen" while my fortunes, and the fortunes of those millions of honest citizens like myself, dwindle.
The collapse of the mortgage brokerages and financial institutions was a disaster caused by their own greed, lies, imprudent financial decisions, and speculations likewise those individuals whose bad judgment caused them to enter into mortgages that any prudent individual would have, or should have, known they couldn't afford was a self inflicted wound and they should be held responsible for their own failures and pay the price. For much too long in this country success, industry, and personal responsibility has become vilified and penalized while failure, sloth, and personal irresponsibility have become the objects of praise, reward, and now "bailout".
So I would ask you once more Senators, Congressmen, and Mr. President: "What do you intend to do to hold me (and the millions of Americans like me) harmless and recompense us for what we've lost?"