The Devil Made Me Do It!

This last week we had the report from the committee analyzing the financial collapse of the last two years. This was right on the heels of the deficit reduction committee. Even though these two bipartisan groups met for several months, they could not reach a unanimous conclusion.

 I don’t know if it is really impossible to reach accord or if it is our penchant as Americans to blame the other guy. Don’t fess up. I had no idea. My fault? No way.

 We are not good at taking medicine. We love the good times. We tend to get lost in our own egos. We want to be individuals, but when things go sour we are all screaming for help.

I have been involved in real estate for a long time. When I was selling I looked at everything as a business transaction. I really tried hard to never fall in love with a piece of real estate. It tends, like romance of all sorts, to cloud the mind.

Recently I have been privy to two disasters on this front. One is a fellow that at one time was wealthy. He got hit from all angles. He had a large inventory of properties and unfortunately the liquidation is not finished. But he has faced the music, priced things to sell and is moving on to try to rebuild his life. A brave man.

 On the other hand is a fellow who is a victim at least in his own eyes. Woulda’s, coulda’s, shoulda’s abound. He has not faced the music. He has not made a payment in over three years. He is wallowing in self pity. A sad and tragic man.

 That’s okay. Bankers are blaiming appraisers. Wall Street is blaming the rating agancies. Buyers are blaiming the mortgage brokers. Congress. The Fed. Obama.No one is to blame. All innocent bystanders.
 In many ways it is a microcosm of our society. We are in a fix. No two ways about it. Whether our best days are in front of us or behind us remains to be seen. But regardless, WE are the ones that got us here.
 We have built an economy that is 75% based on the consumption of goods. We have built big houses, bought lots of furniture and have to have the latest fashions and electronic gadgets. We want a new car every two or three years. We want our kids to go to the best schools. We have failed to save.
But it goes even further. We shop at Wal Mart and Costco. Not downtown. We buy Chinese.Japanese.Korean. The cheaper the better and all the more we are able to buy.I have two brothers in law who are union men and good ones. But they don’t really have an answer when I ask why over all these years they didn’t buy American and how many union jobs would have been saved?

We smoke. We drink. We do drugs. We overeat. And then we come to our medical systems to heal us. Didn’t you know that’s my right? You owe me! I want you to do every possible thing you can regardless of the cost.

I am continually confronted with the realization that everything good or bad in my life is the result of a decision I  have made. No one forced me to do anything. If it turned out right I can take credit. If it turned out wrong I have no one else to blame.

I also feel the world owes me nothing. Sure I want good medical care but I feel there are limits. Yes, I would like a roof over my head, but it does not have to be a mansion.

And here comes the real kicker. Nothing is guaranteed. If my way of life and status in the world has to change, so be it. Will it be fun? Maybe in a crazy and uncertain way, yes.

My trip to Hawaii gave me a totally different outlook. We stayed at a condo on the ocean. Next door was the Four Seasons. Probably at two to three times the price. Was the view of the ocean any different? Go next door and a drink was $15. Go a quarter of a mile the other way and Happy Hour had Mai Tais for $5.

The moral is simple. Life is what you make it. Let’s get away from our penchant for bigger, better, faster. It is not a matter of “settling” for less but rather really appreciating what the hell we really have and how good we have it..

No matter what, it is what you and I have done to the world. Not what the world has done to us. The devil didn’t make me do it. It was all me.

As always

Ted The Great

Factoid: The highest mountains in Hawaii are about 12,000 feet. If you realize they they have been created from the floor of the ocean over 13,000 feet below the surface, the mountains are actually higher than Mt. Everest. Moreover all the flora on the islands was brought to the volcanic rock by seeds in the beaks of birds that travelled over 2500 miles from the nearest land mass. Now is that evolution or creation?

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