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Monday, August 3, 2009

Villains And Victims

It seems the blame, the victimization, the broad personal attacks, the characterizations, and negative attacks that so fully consumed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and many of her Democratic allies in Congress and across the country during the Bush Administration are fully ingrained in their character and basic political philosophy. Now that they have full control of Congress and the White House they cannot stop with the finger pointing and name calling. Only instead of their vitriol being directed at a President they hated and spent eight years trying to undermine it is now being directed at the American people. Every issue that arises in our country has someone to blame, someone they can castigate and someone they can attack with character assassinations. In the process the culture of our country takes another step from personal responsibility and accountability. While many Republicans are certainly guilty of the blame game and character attacks, typically they are directed at political rivals and opponents rather than huge swaths of the American public.

When the credit crisis started, Washington immediately put anyone working on Wall Street or in the financial industries in the category of selfish and greedy people looking to make money any way possible. If you listen to commercial radio you have heard the ad from the law firm looking for clients for their loan modification services in which President Obama is blaming "unscrupulous mortgage lenders" who caused all the problems in the housing industry. During a press conference on the Democrats health care proposals Obama accused doctors of taking tonsils out of little children and performing other procedures just so they can make more money. Last week Pelosi told reporters that independent insurance agents "are the villains in this," "this" of course being the problems with our health care system.

From obesity, to gang violence, to the environment, to household economics, to illiteracy, to health, every problem has a victim and every victim is given someone to blame--usually someone faceless. The problem is that no one in America is faceless. Every industry or segment of the country that is the target of some politician or political party's blame consist of good, hard working Americans. But this is lost on those who feel it is easier to promote their political agendas by characterizing some of their constituents as helpless victims who have no choice or ability to make decisions and providing a big, bad target to blame.

Mortgage brokers and independent insurance agents operate in very similar ways, they just offer different products. By having a variety of larger companies that actually fund mortgages or write the insurance policies with whom they have business arrangements, they find the product that matches the abilities, personal histories and needs of their clients. Because they have a variety of competing wholesale lenders or insurers vying for their clients, they also have the ability to shop the rates for the clients to find the best combination of price, service, and product. Our company uses insurance agents to help keep the health insurance costs down for all our employees while still being able to offer a variety of plans from which to choose. Another agent shops our Errors and Omissions insurance annually to make sure we have a product that covers our company at an affordable premium. Life, health, business, auto, home, we have many different insurance products we all use in our daily lives. Local insurance agents sponsor our Little League teams, take out ads in the high school basketball programs, donate to local charities and are at the PTA meetings. Hardly the villains Pelosi wants you to think they are.

The same can be said for mortgage brokers. Or real estate agents. Or local restaurants. Pick a small business in your community and you can find members of that industry or company throughout your community. Are their bad mortgage brokers that screw(ed) people? Yes. Are there bad real estate agents that push(ed) homes on people? Yes. Are there bad insurance agents that over-insure clients? Yes. Are there financial advisers that steer clients to higher commission products? Yes. Every industry, every sector of the economy, every community has those who see as their primary purpose to squeeze as much money out of the market place and their clients as possible. And in every industry these people constitute a very, very small minority of those who work in the industry.

Think of the many different people and companies that provide services for you and your family. Your family doctor, your insurance agent, your financial advisor, your attorney, do you think there primary concern is to help you with your decisions and problems or to take as much of your money as they can? Obama, Pelosi and many of their fellow Democrats think it is the latter. They do not realize that every industry they characterize as "unscrupulous," every nameless person they call "villain," every group they accuse of operating from "greed" consists of Americans that are working hard to provide for their families and improve their communities.

With the health care legislation that was rushing through Congress now stalled until September at the earliest we can expect an August filled with commercials, speeches and appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows vilifying health care providers as charging too much, insurance companies as making too much and employers as providing too little. Your doctor, your neighbor and your boss are all to blame for your health care difficulties. By victimizing you and other Americans and blaming big groups they are setting up an argument based on class warfare, "Us" versus "Them" and everyone is "Us."

At no point in any of these arguments or commercials will any of "Us" be shown taking responsibility for ourselves. My health issues are not because I eat too much, drink too much, smoke too much, exercise too little, have genetic defects, engage in risky behavior, or do not bother with routine check ups. My financial issues are not because I wanted too much, did not stay in school and get a degree, spend and consume too much, borrow too much, save too little, or cannot keep a job because I'm always right and the boss is always stupid. None of my problems are of my own causing because I did not read papers I signed, did not get references, found a "great deal" or did not do any research at all on the individual or company I was going to work for or with. None of the problems I am having are my own causing. I know this because that is what our national leadership is telling me. I am pissed because some unscrupulous, greedy, villainous, professional or company has purposefully screwed me over. If it were my fault I would take some accountability, but since it is not I will blame them.

Abetted by a media that loves to trot out the sob stories and victims, the political philosophy of the new Democrats is working. In California the government has become the Nanny State trying to abdicate every citizen from any responsibility or accountability providing someone to blame and enabling them to create more laws that restrict more freedoms and liberties. Washington under full Democratic control is working towards this direction as well with an objective of total government control over industry, financial services and health care. The more blame that can be placed on an industry the more right the government has to regulate the industry, the more the industry is regulated the less choice we have, the fewer freedoms we enjoy and the less personal responsibility and accountability we must have.

Freedom to succeed also means the freedom to fail. Success is not a right but must be attained through hard work and good decisions. Unfortunately the philosophy of the political majority in our Congress and White House is that the successful need to compensate the unsuccessful, that good decisions can only be made by government and that if you do not work hard and/or make good decisions you need not worry because you will be taken care of, courtesy of the government.

I am proud to be a mortgage broker and the hundreds and hundreds of families I have helped become homeowners in the past few decades. I am proud to know many insurance agents who do great work helping families and small businesses with their insurance needs and being their in those unfortunate times they need those policies. I am proud to know many doctors throughout our community who care about their patients and their health, working to help them create good habits and lifestyles for a healthier future. I am proud to know many real estate professionals who care more about families purchasing the home that fits their personal needs and financial abilities rather than how much commission they can make. I am proud to know many financial advisers who look at the long term goals and current financial abilities of their clients instead of how they can make more money.

Too bad Pelosi and Obama are not as proud of these Americans as I am.



Anonymous said...

It's not simple is it? That is, while many of our problems are of our own creation, some are institutional, aren't they? And while many people are ethical and hard-working, at least a few are greedy and unscrupulous, right? And aren't you playing the blame game here, too - blaming the left for creating a culture of victimization and taking away "our freedoms"?

Charles S said...

For what Anonymous said, yes, we all play the blame game, regardless of our position in life. And without "blaming" anyone, how can one describe the root cause of problem? If we can blame everyone for this mess, than we include ourselves. So, is everyone at fault?
What makes true and great leaders? I was taught by our education system that true and great leaders lead people in a direction that will benefit all, or at least those who participate. When was the last time we had before us a great leader? So let's all get off the blame game and start leading.

Dennis C Smith said...

I do admit to the blame game, human nature and being human I too find who I feel is at fault for certain issues or problems. The greatest blame however lies with each of us who allow the erosion of our personal responsibilies and that of others, who allow the government and elected officials to remove accountability from people making bad choices and decisions and place that accountability elsewhere. Pelosi and Obama and the New Democrat are just taking advantage of the political power they have been given by those who do not want personal responsibility nor accountability.

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