NY Republican, Mayor Michael Bloomberberg made this statement on Good Morning America this week that has stuck with me.
“Anger is not a strategy.”
He made it in refernce to the rise of the Tea Party. I couldn’t agree with him more. Anger has gripped this country and I don’t think it’s a good thing. Anger never solves anything. Rarely does anything positive come from anger. There was an interesting post in today’s NY Times about TARP. It suggests that the bailout may cost as little as 50 Billion dollars and could actually generate a profit for the U.S. Government when it’s all done, yet few politicians want to have their name attached to it because of Americas anger and distaste of it. Anger is causing what may prove to be one of the most prudent and effective catastrophe avoiding moves in U.S. history to be vilified.
The biggest problem I see with the anger growing in America is that it is aimed at everyone else. There is very little self-directed anger and this is the worse type of anger. The blame game is brutal and unbelievably unproductive. What exacerbates today’s blame game, primarily aimed at the rich, the government and freeloaders (those on government entitlement programs) is little accountability is being taken for our own actions. The collective “WE” have made and are making a number of mistakes which have added to our collective demise.
A few thoughts:
- Only 59% of Americans graduate from college, that ranks us 12th out of the 36 developed countries. We are barely in the top 3rd.
- Only 60% of U.S. Citizens can pass a financial literacy test
- Only 64% of us voted in the last Presidential Election. (that 64% set a record)
- Atheists and agnostics know more about religion than those practicing the religion
- Total consumer debt is 2.42 trillion
- Average consumer carries $15,788 of debt on their credit cards (this is 30% of the median household income)
- Credit card default rate is 13%
- Credit card debt as a % of GDP is 3.6x GDP, up from 1.6x GDP in 1980
- Debt to income ratio in 2008 was 139% up from 62% in 1963 (that means the country is upside down)
- Spending has outpaced wages. Spending has increased by 44% while wages have only increased by 32% between 2000 and 2007.
- 43% of Americans have LESS than 10K saved for retirement
- 66% of Americans have LESS than 50K saved for retirement
- Americans own on average 2.93 TV’s
- The “Great Recession” saw that largest increase in TV ownership
- 12% of the population smokes, spending $1,638 a year
As awful, sobering and saddening as these statistics are, there is one thing they aren’t, and that is someone else’s fault. We, as individuals, own these stats. They are ours and no one else’s. No one kept us from going to college, no one forced us to smoke, no one made us spend more than we were making, no one keeps us form being financially literate, no one prevents us from saving. Everyone of these statistics is driven by individual choice and it appears as a country we are making some bad choices.
The problems on Wall Street and Government mismanagement have exacerbated our situation. To blame, Wall Street, or Obama, or Bush, or anyone else for our problems is palliative. Growing up, when ever I would worry about other people or look to blame, my Dad would tell me to stop worrying about everyone else and just worry about yourself. He’d say you can’t control everyone else, just worry about yourself and you’ll be OK. This was good advice.
The anger and blame need to go away. It’s time to look at ourselves as individuals. It’s time to take personal stock and inventory of our own decisions. If we did, I think we’d all have a lot less to be angry about.
I don’t believe we have a lot to be “angry” about. I don’t think there is anyone to blame. Anger and blame aren’t strategies. We’re in a tough spot, because as a country, everysingle one of us MADE A CHOICE that put us here. Now it’s time for all of us to get out of it. The American dream and the American promise have not changed. I just think we’ve lost sight of it. Remember, it says; “Life, Liberty and the PURSUIT of Happiness” not, Life, Liberty and the PROMISE of happiness.
How we chose to pursuit happiness is up to each of us and right now I think all of us can do a little soul searching.
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