Not feeling as bad as maybe I should about story of couple facing tough times…

March 20, 2012

I watched a little bit of a video presentation about an unfortunate older couple facing foreclosure on their house. The man had been a successful executive in the supermarket business and then he got ill and lost his job and then he started his own business but now the couple are going under because of the sour economy.

It’s a real tear jerker, especially when a financial counselor tells them they need to get rid of the house and the man begins to cry.

But call me hard hearted, but I could not really feel terribly sorry for them, although I take no glee in anyone facing tough times.

You see the man mentioned he had another home — they had a second house. He also related that they lived pretty high — you know, they lived the American dream, as some would call it. He, or they worked hard and enjoyed the rewards.

But I am thinking that they were likely conservative in their politics or were not political but were likely conservative in their philosophy, but maybe they did not live conservatively.

You see, if they had, they would have had an out, perhaps. Maybe the sale of that second house would have been it. Or maybe some other investment. But they would have had that emergency fund to fall back on.

But when times are good, even the conservative-minded are not so conservative and don’t worry so much about the future.

I may have these people all wrong. And again, I take no pleasure; I don’t feel that schadenfreude about the whole situation.

And I am no one to talk about personal finance. In my lifetime I would score a D – or an F, really.

But aside from the Wall Street crooks who finally brought us all down, I think a lot of otherwise conservative-minded people, and some not conservative, as well, did not live conservative and are now in trouble.

Back in the day, your rent or your house payment should have been no more than a quarter of your monthly income. Back in the day, you only needed one family automobile and in some places no automobile at all. Back in the day, you only went to the doctor when something was terribly wrong. Back in the day, mom fixed dinner from scratch. Back in the day, families ate dinner together and shared their life. Back in the day, eating out, even at a drive-in, as they used to call them, was a big occasion. Back in the day, shopping for clothes was a big occasion and some places were wise enough to require uniforms for schoolchildren so parents did not have to go out on a limb for wardrobes and kids did not have to worry about having the latest (and most expensive) fashion to fit in at school. Back in the day, when you wanted something you bought it cash and if you did not have the cash, you might have still wanted it, but you did without (yes, a generalization here).

But this is not back in the day. But we might be better off if we looked backwards and took some of the good parts from back in the day. Back in the day of course was not the ideal world. People went hungry (but many still do), people were put out on the street (still happens), and unemployment benefits if there were any were not as generous. And work safety? There was none. But we could try to bring back some of the good parts.

And I hate to write this, but it might be healthier for the populace if the government did not go too far in rescuing us all because tough times probably are forcing a lot of people to be more wise with their money and more willing to work to get more and more imaginative about their own skills and potential.

At the same time, though, if the government can bend over backwards to help out Wall Street bankers and businesses, it can also help the workers or the population as a whole, albeit in moderation.


And if we had national health care, maybe the poor guy would not have lost his shirt when he got sick. I hope he is not one of those conservatives who hate “socialized medicine”.