*edit* – fixed the second link

Throughout my life, I have lived within my means. It was not easy, watching my friends get their fancy new cars, and their fancy houses and their fancy toys and their global vacations. It was not easy to watch them remodel their kitchens and pay for all sorts of neat things that I, in good conscience, could not justify because I could not afford them.

The house I bought, back in 97, appreciated some, but not a ton. The cars I bought, we paid off, and kept. It gave us some breathing room for handling unexpected expenses, for saving for college for the kids, for helping out our family as necessary. And even then, we still were careful about how we managed our expenses.

Then we moved to DC, rented a house, sold our home in Atlanta, and lived there for a year. And then we moved back to Atlanta. But before we could buy a house, Christy and I decided to divorce. I co-signed the mortgage, so she could get a house, and have a nice place for my kids.

I? I moved into an apartment. There was no way that I could justify trying to own a home, while I was already co-signer on her mortgage, and had a significant child-support obligation. It wasn’t the responsible thing to do. I have to wait, until circumstances change, before I can even consider buying a house.

And when I buy a house, I will be buying a house that I can afford. Because that’s the responsible, grown up thing to do.

Perhaps that will explain some of the mild fury I feel when I read these:

These represent “reallocation”. Not from rich to poor, which, while sometimes frustrating, is also sometimes just. This is reallocation from financially responsible to financially irresponsible. And it really makes me wonder why I even bother to live within my means. As long as enough of my friends put themselves in a bad financial position, I can confidently assume that I can put myself in an equally bad position, and expect a government handout.

Cut taxes. Build high-speed rail corridors. Deploy wifi and WiMax in cities across the country. Bail out unemployment insurance coffers. Repave some highways. Build some schools. Increase NIH funding. Increase “deep theory” science research. These are all things which, at some level, make the future USA a better place.

But helping people wriggle out of the consequences of their bad financial decisions does not help anyone, especially the future USA.


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