Category Archives: Responsibility Movement

Movie Review: The Big Short

I just watched the movie The Big Short. It portrays itself as exposing the truth. It exposes the truth about the actions at the very top of the “housing crisis” problem, but it fails to really drive home the scope of the problem. Yes, people at the banks were apathetic, irresponsible, and crooked, and their actions ultimately resulted in taxpayers footing the bill. However, it portrays the other participants in the problem as victims, and I believe this is an injustice.

One statement in the movie in particular clearly emphasizes my point and I want to bring it up because it is so pervasive in our language. They quote a statistic about people being evicted from homes they lived in that banks bought for them by saying, “X million people lost their homes.” No. Those X million people never owned homes in the first place. The first people to be evicted in such a situation are those who took low-money-down, teaser-rate mortgages. That means they never paid a dime for “their” home. That’s the nature of such loans. The bank took a huge chance trying to give them something they never earned in the first place. They were irresponsible and undisciplined enough to take it and not pay. Maybe you could say they were naive enough to take it. Maybe even the loan sharks practically forced it on them. Regardless, they were part of the problem and nothing was taken from them that they actually earned. X million other people weren’t greedy enough to fall for such obvious gimmick loans, remained living right where they were, and happily waited out the crisis watching it on network TV over a new digital antenna.

Is the problem behind us? No. I don’t know what the next “crisis” is, but I know how to survive it. Avoid the following irresponsible, undisciplined decisions: cable TV (yes, that’s right, you will not know what to do with your spare time, see suggestions below), car loans (yes, save up then drive a used car), smoking pot (it makes you dumb and lazy I’ve seen it personally), credit card debt (pay it off by all means necessary especially by quitting the other items on this list), excessive alcohol (quit entirely if you have to).

I’m going to add to the list: ridiculously expensive but worthless college degrees. Students are the latest fad hapless debtor voters  for the government to victimize and force taxpayers to bail out. Oh, but certainly education is important! Getting drunk and high for 4 years and talking about your feelings is not an education, even if you pay $35K per year to do it.

Do: read. Information is out there.

Do: exercise. Bad health is expensive.

Of note, they show a guy with a family in the movie who is evicted even though he paid his rent because the owner defaulted. That is truly unfortunate. However, I personally work hard to ensure that those who pay their rent, as is reflected by their credit score, have a safe and stable place to live and pay their rent on time!

Thanks, but No Thanks

Dear Federal Government,

This just doesn’t feel right. I’ve seen your balance sheet and you can’t afford to send me this “disability” check. I’m not cashing it.

If I’m not taking the money, then why did I submit a claim? I submitted a claim because it is the only way to not be forced to pay for medical coverage that is falsely expensive because of your, the government’s, involvement.

For the record, I did not lie on my claim. I listed all my aches and pains–which thankfully are minor–and let the system decide. I got 10%. I really don’t know all the politics behind this issue, and I’m not a health care professional, but there is no way that I should be receiving free money.

I will be at my first annual check-up at the VA medical center, where the nurses and doctors have been very accommodating and professional, on the 16th because that is what I need. I will continue to live a healthy lifestyle for myself, and to fulfill my responsibility to not be a drain on the system.

I will continue to save my money when I can. I hope you can do the same. You can start with my two hundred some dollars a month. It would be nice to cash the check and throw it on the giant pile that I’ve saved by not buying into the American consumer society that you’ve promoted, but I really don’t need it.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Statue of Responsibility

In January 2015, while on military assignment to Okinawa, Japan, I read the book Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. I had read it once before, but this time when I read in the book Frankl’s suggestion of a Statue of Responsibility on the west coast to compliment the Statue of Liberty on the east coast, it really struck a chord with me. I believe it is a great idea, I believe in the concept, and most of all, I believe in the movement behind it. I have since become involved with the movement. Click here for more information. The following is what it means to me:

As a service member and now as a veteran, when people thank me for my service, I appreciate it, but I want to tell them that while our freedom was won in the past by fighting wars, it is secured now by acting responsibly. If we want to thank our veterans, we can do so by doing our part to keep our country great. Let’s show our ancestors, who fought much more difficult wars than we do, that their sacrifice was for long-term good. I’m not talking about what we say, or who we support, or how we vote. I’m talking about what we do, and about how we live our life, because individuals’ actions affect our country as a whole. What we do as individuals affects who we are as a country and whether we will continue to be great.

In the United States, we have great freedom, wealth, and opportunities. With all this, we are presented with many options. Options are good, but they are simultaneously our downfall. We as individuals have to say “no” to many of the spoils of wealth and freedom that are available to us. We have to say “no” to credit cards and loans that overextend us financially, whether the lender is willing or not. We have to turn off our TVs and allow the resulting uncomfortable silence to motivate us to do something greater with our spare time. We have to say “no” to all the cheap, fatty foods that permeate our restaurants and stores. We have to say “no” to drugs, whether we are allowed to use them legally or not. We have to say “no” to all those things that squander our opportunities.

What can we accomplish as a country right now if we really try? I don’t know. If I ventured to guess, I would probably fall short of what is actually possible. We will only find out if we stop doing all the wasteful things that are holding us back. Free up our time, energy, and resources and fill it in with something productive. Volunteer. Become active in our neighborhoods and churches. Research charity organizations and make a contribution. Take a small leadership position in the community and make decisions for the greater good. I believe we can transform our culture. Let’s find out what is possible!