Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Give Credit Where Credit's Due

An excerpt from a Steve Pearlstein chat on

Q: In the hunt for villains in the current financial crisis, I hear very little in the media about the responsibility of consumers for the problems in the housing market. Isn't the underlying issue the fact that consumers entered into contracts (mortgages) that they are now not honoring? If anything, the financial system was too optimistic about the intelligence and character of the consumers who were taking out these mortgages. They were too bullish on the capabilities (intelligence/character/cash flow) of the American consumer! That's not a populist message, but it seems like blaming all the players in the system - the financial intermediaries and their regulators - without assessing the culpability of consumers as a whole is a total dodge. Aren't there millions of Americans who have made bad decisions as borrowers? Aren't all homeowners participants in the price-setting that's gotten us in trouble? Where does that get factored into our collective assessment of who is at fault for this? It's depressing that the most common storyline makes consumers out to be victims in need of paternalistic care. Thoughts?

A: There's been a lot of populist resentment floating about the last few days, and with reason. But you are right: in the search for culprits, we all need to visit the mirror and look into the bathroom mirror. We've lived beyong our means for many years, and this is at the heart of the problem. And we got so caught up in the bubble that we forgot a lot of the basic lessons of household finance, in terms of how much we borrowed and how much we paid for assets. There's plenty of blame to go around.

Precisely. I'm all about Congress stepping up (finally after all these years) and asking some pointed questions, but their continuous references to the pain felt on "Main Street" should be understood for what they are: a naked election-year appeal to the consumers/voters who gleefully lived beyond their means and wholly contributed to this mess. It's easier to scapegoat those corporate sonsabitches than to admit you're just as greedy as they are.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Valentine's Day, 2000

From the days before digital ...

I'm finally getting around to scanning my old prints. They're a poor approximation for grainy analog beauty but excellent nonetheless. These will only have meaning for a handful of readers.

Hard to believe that a number of these asses are married.

Friday, September 05, 2008

All Class

One of the greatest Kids in the Hall skits of all time:

On a COMPLETELY UNRELATED note, does anyone have wedding pics? Tony Fiorini posted a handful on his site (ahem) but I don't have any from Buste-- ... Harold's.