Friday, August 19, 2011

The problem with the blame game

Let's be serious. We have problems as a nation but we have little agreement on how to solve them.

For many years, we accepted that all difficulties could be overcome by using real estate as our bank because its value would only go up. The National Association of Realtors predicted a "soft landing" just as the free-fall began, but the landing has not been soft.

We are left as a country trying to find someone to blame. Anger has become the default emotion we have chosen.

It is easy to buy into the message that we are being cheated, that our taxes are too high, that all public services are worthless, and that anyone receiving government help is cheating or wasting our largesse.

Many taxpayers and corporations spend lots of energy trying to reduce taxes or avoid paying them altogether. Retirement communities refuse to support school districts because those are other people's children. Residents' own are already launched—courtesy of other people's taxes, which doesn't seem to matter.

For some in the country, some wealthy and some not, government does nothing to be proud of. Even candidates for public office seem to expect government to exit the stage entirely and take with it all entitlement programs, even though those programs may be the only thing standing between many of our citizens, particularly our elderly, and abject poverty.

The left blames President Barack Obama for not fighting to the death; the right calls him a secret Muslim interloper. Everyone hates Congress.

The problem with the blame game is that it goes nowhere.

Anger and fear consume. They do not sustain. Now that we Americans have discovered there is no pot of gold out there to save us, is our only option leaving some of us hungry and homeless and hopeless?

Investment guru Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world, this week raised the ire of much of the financial class when he called into question the morality of a land of plenty in which some only have plenty of nothing.

In the end, in times that are difficult, it really doesn't matter who is at fault. What matters is what values we will choose to apply in working our way out.

It matters whether we are willing to sacrifice and share, believing that we will all do better if we all do better, or we allow ourselves, as a country, to draw further and further apart.

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