I just finished watching a CNN special on the foreclosure problems in the US. More than a million homes went into foreclosure last year and they’re expecting another 2.2million over the next couple of years. You can view some of the current foreclosure listings from around the country. Or view Texas Foreclosure Listings. Odds are you’ll find some in your neighborhood.
I admit the whole situation is pretty bad, but who’s fault is it? Throughout the special they consistently glossed over the bad decisions made by the homeowners. I agree that there are a lot of bad, opportunistic, unethical real estate “professionals” who prey on people who make bad decisions, but rather than addressing any personal responsibility there seems to be a huge tendency to shift any and all blame from the homeowners.
Personal responsibility is out of fashion. Dealing with the consequences of bad decisions seems no longer to be the American way. Instead, we want to protect people from being dumb. We want to keep people from having to experience any setback or repercussion of their bad decisions.
How are we, as a society, suppose to learn from our mistakes if our very real individual contribution to the mistake is never acknowledged?
How are we suppose to make better future decisions….like taking the time to read and understand the documents before we sign them?
How are we going to learn that maybe we shouldn’t take out all the “equity” in our homes to temporarily erase our credit card debt?
Without penalty from bad decisions how will we ever understand the value of the unimaginable… possibly forgo the new car, vacation, or other unnecessary consumption or maybe just delaying for a while…at least until we can actually PAY for it… not “make the payments” on it?
There are specific examples of individuals that are heartbreaking, but this issue is a big issue and extends well beyond anecdotal stories. There are a lot of bad guys in this situation (my personal favorite target is appraisers… maybe I’ll talk about that another time). At the end of the day, though, not only do we need to accept responsibility for our actions but we need to work bring back the expectation of personal responsibility to our culture.