Obama’s “Fine Print”

July 14th, 2009

Americans grow up, finish their schooling, get their own cars and their own places to live, go for an easy-to-get credit card or two, develop a credit history, eventually get married, raise a family, get a bigger place to live, and, if they haven’t already, at that point many start abusing their credit.

Problem is, the average American has very poor money management and credit management skills (that’s a subject not taught in too many schools). As a result they will quickly run their golden-egg-producing credit cards up to their limits by making those fabulous minimum payments and will, to their everlasting amazement, then be offered a new, even higher credit limit.

What I’ve just described is more than just a series of snapshots that depict people getting into financial trouble; it also describes a culture created by and manipulated by our banks, credit card companies, loan companies and millions of businesses who advertise: “We Finance!” This has been going on for the past two or three generations and it has created a “False American Dream” — not the American Dream that says if you work very hard and use your money wisely you can accomplish almost any personal goal — this False American Dream has led countless Americans to believe that they can afford anything they want because the money is out there waiting for them, past credit history be damned.

From Finance To The “Age of Obama”

In 2008, many American voters were in deep financial trouble because of the False American Dream, and this was exacerbated by the Bush Administration’s mismanagement of the economy. With these two conditions in play, it’s only natural to assume that these American voters would reject any candidate with any connection to President Bush (i.e., the entire Republican party) and jump at the chance to elect a president who promised the most help. Thus, we entered the Age of Obama.

Picking a president based on campaign promises is just as perilous an adventure as applying for that third credit card after the first two are maxed out. It doesn’t seem like you have any choice, and you live on the hope that everything will work out all right. Trouble is, with everything you do in life there is “fine print” that needs to be understood and consequences that need to be faced. In the case of candidate Obama, the fine print was hidden in the practiced eloquence of his speech and in the blinding glow of his well-polished charisma. The fine print didn’t lie either; it presented a fairly accurate picture of the thoughts and aspirations of the candidate, i.e., the free-market does not work; big business is not to be trusted; every individual American must sacrifice so the government can provide for those who have less and need more; only government control can save us all from the ongoing financial crisis and only government can put Americans back to work. That and more was all there in the fine print for all of us to read.

It’s safe to assume that many people who voted for candidate Obama did not look beyond the rhetoric and charisma to read the fine print. Those who did and still voted for candidate Obama probably fall into two categories: those who like the idea of an all-powerful government that would take care of them and those who understood the implied socialism in what candidate Obama was saying and assumed that it was all just political rhetoric — like in every election — and not to be taken too seriously. After all, who would seriously think that a new president would dare to even consider turning the United States economy and culture into something resembling a European country?

It’s time to face the consequences — next time, read the fine print.

U.S. unemployment rate may be more than 10 percent already, Chicago Tribune
U.S. Commercial Construction to Drop 16% This Year, Report Says, Bloomberg
Waves of job losses sap U.S. states’ budgets, Reuters

(This article was also posted at My View from the Center.)

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