All around me, I see signs of indulgence gone awry. The signs appear as notices in the newspaper, as articles in newspapers and news sites, as words and numbers spouted out by talking heads Sunday mornings, as dollar signs in stimulus packages, and as "For Sale" signs on the short-saled and the foreclosed-upon homes in my neighborhood, my county and my country.
They indulged in homes far out of their economic reach. At one point, my house was worth twice the price I had paid for it. That was just four years after we'd bought it. Four years later, it is valued at the same price we had paid for it. If we could ever sell it, of course, given the steals and bargains all around us.
And "steal" is a good description for these now-vacant homes. It describes what the mortgage broker did. It describes what the bank or other lender did. It describes what the real estate agent did. And it describes what the buyer did.
They stole from me and you and from my children. We "joke" now to the kids that they aren't going to be allowed to have children. I forbid it. Why? So the debt isn't saddled on their children. The debt ends with them. Oh, I indulge in jokes, don't I?
I'm expected to have pity for the folks whose homes are now under water. I'm expected to let acquaintances talk without remorse and unchallenged about their walking away from their house. I'm expected to not note that one of the vice presidents at The Chronicle is walking away from his house, as if we can't even expect high-paid executives to pay their share.
I'm sorry, but I can't indulge in having sympathy for the entirely unsympathetic.