Carnes: Yes, it IS the economy, stupid |

Carnes: Yes, it IS the economy, stupid

But this begs the question of who exactly is calling whom stupid?

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll says Republicans and Democrats actually agree the economy is our most pressing issue. Almost 40 percent think it is top dog, with only about 10 percent thinking Numero Uno belongs to the war, and immigration and health care falling somewhere in between ” sadly dependent upon party loyalty.

Perhaps the most eye-opening of these numbers is that the top and bottom were almost exactly reversed less than six months ago. As a nation we appear to follow popular political trends like paparazzi follow Britney. Maybe we all deserve to be in the loony bin.

Anyway, now that the majority agrees what’s most important, I suppose we should be good little American socialists and choose who and what to blame for making it this way.

The “what” is simple: It’s greed, that lovable human emotion steeped in the inequities of “more is better” as a way to survive. The more stuff one possesses, the better ones chances for survival.

But as for “who,” how about the government? They’re always a convenient first course at the culpability dinner table.

Leading up to Christmas all we heard from President Bush was how strong the economy is, how low unemployment and inflation are, and by continuing to spend billions each month to magically win an unwinnable war, we serve the perceived desires of his personal imaginary best friend.

But all religious babble aside, a democratic government does little more than what the majority of us direct it to do (in theory), and the only greed involved is from those attempting to survive on the public dole as long as possible, so let’s consider focusing our blame on capitalists, a.k.a. evil corporations.

Some of them are piling up gross profits like we’ve been piling up snow. But as far as I can tell, that’s their purpose for existence. Every product purchased and each service rendered helps the economy as a whole (guns to butter), so maybe the center of attention should be on those doing the purchasing.

Which leaves us, you and me, all of our friends and neighbors; we’re the ones ultimately responsible for economic meltdowns. And it’s not just local, it’s nationwide, baby.

We are the ones living beyond our means.

We are the ones consistently spending more than we make.

We are the ones performing fiscal procrastination by creating more debt in order to make ourselves appear more financially stable than we really are, selfishly leaving our children to deal with the long term effects.

We are the stupid ones.

“But Richard, shouldn’t we blame the evil sub-prime mortgage industry for forcing all of those poor people to buy more home than they could afford?”

Sorry, I can’t hear you over the sound of the world’s smallest violin playing.

Who looked at the bottom line and said, “Hey, maybe, just maybe, I can make that large of a monthly payment,” without allowing reality to have even the slightest impact upon your future income potential increasing at least proportionately with your expenses over the next decade?

But mainly, who signed their name on the dotted line?

“C’mon, can’t we please blame evil corporate greed?”

Nope, not when you realize who is purchasing their evil corporate products.

“But the Bush Administration, why can’t we blame them?”

Because we elected them, that’s why.

Look, this ain’t rocket surgery. The democracy-claustrophobic need to open the closet door and breathe the fresh air of personal responsibility. We brought this recession upon ourselves, not China, not Mexico, not Osama, Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Billary or any one of thousands of modern-day evil magical beings.

We borrow more than we can ever hope to repay and blame the lender; build houses in floodplains and blame the builder; develop cancer from smoking and blame the tobacco seller; get chunky from wolfing down McDonalds five days a week and blame the cook; give little Johnny an “A” for effort even though he failed the test and blame the teacher; drive vehicles that get single-digit MPG’s and blame Detroit.

So yes, the economy is the main issue of Campaign 2008, but the man in the mirror is the idiot for allowing greed to let it occur in the first place.

NOTE: The preceding opinions belong to Richard and are not necessarily shared by this newspaper…but for some reason he thinks they should be.

Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at

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