Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Greed and Capitalism

I’m sure you all have read the headlines about the government bailing out AIG to the tune of $85 billion. What in the heck is going on? First the housing market crumbles. Investment firm Bear Sterns gets nearly $30 billion to avert a major financial default. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac got help with the government investing as much as $200 billion in preferred stock and at least $5 billion in mortgage securities. Then the stock market takes a nose dive. Lehman Brothers is no more. Morgan Stanley gets sold to Bank of America. Gas and Food prices are through the roof and unemployment is at a high. I am having second thoughts about #25 on my list: Invest in the stock market.

The rule of thumb for defining a recession is when the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth is negative for two or more consecutive quarters. What is the GDP? It is a measure of the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States. So far this hasn’t happened, but I think we are all feeling the pain of this economic slump. So does that mean it is about to get worse? I’m no financial guru, but it doesn’t look good.

But you know what? It’s all relative. I may have to cut corners and buy generic rather than brand name while someone else may not be able to pay their bills at all. Then you have the elite who might not be able to splurge on every $5,000 handbag they see or have to sell one of their 15 cars. It’s a complex issue and I know life isn’t fair, but it seems like something is wrong here.

I am all for having to get a job and working hard for what you have. I hate government handouts. It breeds laziness and corruption of a system that was meant to help out, not be your sole income. GO GET A FREAKING JOB PEOPLE. If it came down to it, I would work at Target and love it probably. I would even work at McDonald’s if I had to. I would find something to make some money. I know there are probably times when people do need help. If something devastating happened to me, I would hope my family and friends would help, but what if you don’t have that? And when does it turn from “helping” to “taking advantage of? (This is one of the reasons why I want to be able to pay all of my own bills by the end of the year-#5 on my list!)

I do think people who work hard and smart should be able to enjoy the benefits of that. Everyone wants to feel financially secure and afford whatever they want without thinking about it. But when does ambition and success turn into greed?

I think there is something wrong with the super rich. Those people who make millions and millions each year. They have financial advisers who can find every tax loophole in the book. They hide their money in off-shore accounts. They keep getting richer and richer while the middle class slide back further and further. I have no idea what the solution is, but it isn’t a hand out. These CEOs and shareholders make tons of money (while sharing as little as possible- damn working for the man!), then they make some bad decisions and the federal government comes to the rescue. What kind of example does this set for everyone else? Oh, don’t worry, if you mess up the government will come save you. Take some responsibility people! How can the government afford all these bail-outs AND the war AND welfare AND social security AND food stamps? Something has to change. I’m anxiously awaiting the presidential candidate’s debates to see how they would address these issues. What are your thoughts?

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