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One Moment, Please... Who can solve our problems?


Fri, Aug 3rd, 2012
Posted in All Commentary

By Jason Sethre

Publisher of the

Fillmore County Journal &

Olmsted County Journal

Cell phone: 507-251-5297

jsethre@fillmorecountyjournal.com

In last week’s commentary, I posed a rhetorical question: But, really, can a president solve our problems?

Of course, the answer is no.

Yes, on some levels of executive power, a president can influence the general direction of a conversation about a particular issue. But, keep in mind we have three branches to our government, maintaining checks and balances.

So, who can solve our problems?

There’s only one person who can come to the rescue on this one. Us. We have the greatest influence on our personal destiny. We make decisions every day that affect our lives more than anybody else in our lives.

So, when I hear the continuous rants of those who feel like they have become victims or casualties of the economy, I grow more concerned about how we are going to get ourselves out of this messy economy.

The economy tanking back in 2008 was the result of many things of which we cannot control. However, our response to those events and the decisions we make based on what we learned from those events could help us define a brighter future.

Back in 2008, many people lost their jobs and those losses put the housing market on fragile terms. I know. I was there. I, too, was laid off in October 2008, among another 13 percent of my coworkers. At that time, while I didn’t realize it, nearly 30,000 jobs had been eliminated across the nation in 2008 in the newspaper industry. It was a sign of things to come, but I wasn’t really acknowledging this unemployment Tsunami, yet. It wasn’t until it affected me. Fortunately, everything worked out for me and my family. We sold our house in less than 45 days back in Wisconsin, and immediately moved back home to this area to purchase the Fillmore County Journal. The rest is history, and I’m glad that economic downturn forced me to make a decision I should have probably made a long time ago.

So, why am I concerned about people ranting about how the economy has gravely impacted their lives?

Well, it appears to me that we are not going to completely crawl out of this depression (and yes, I said depression, not recession), until we learn a few things.

Losing my job back in October 2008 was like going through the grieving process. I had put in 14 great years in the newspaper industry, continually getting promoted and helping my company grow revenues and profits. So, when the rug was pulled out from underneath me, it felt like it was undeserved. But it wasn’t a personal attack on me, even though it felt like it. It was a business decision, and downsizing was the most popular word in our vocabulary in 2008.

Just like when we lose someone, I believe job loss follows the same path of emotions with the five stages including denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

What stage are we at as a nation and personally? Well, of course, it will be different for every person.

As a nation, when I see the Occupy movement persist in various forms, I question the value we place on privilege versus entitlement. Apparently, we don’t want to work for anything anymore.

Nearly every day, I receive a press release from Occupy Homes MN out of the Twin Cities talking about how they are battling another bank from allowing a foreclosure to take place on another family or individual.

OK, so if one person is entitled to remain in their home without satisfying a contractual obligation to repay a debt service, there should be no consequences? Well, if you felt the collapse of the banking system was bad in 2008, just wait until you tell anyone who doesn’t pay their monthly mortgage that they are entitled to become squatters.

Yes, our politicians and bankers have made horrible decisions, but this didn’t happen without our consent.

Nobody put a gun to our heads and made us over-extend ourselves. We took chances, individually and as a nation.

I remember when I bought my first home at the age of 21. At that time, I hadn’t considered buying a home until my older and wiser coworkers told me that if they were my age again they would buy a house instead of paying rent. So, I took their advice and made my first leap into home ownership.

At that time, the mortgage loan officers indicated the benchmark for determining how much house a person could afford was based on 28 percent of that person’s gross monthly income. So, including all monthly payments (like auto loans and home loans), my monthly bills could not exceed 28 percent of my gross monthly income. Really? Who pays their monthly bills with gross income? Shouldn’t that be based on net income -- the money you actually have left over at the end of the day?

And, for each of the four homes we purchased from 1995 to 2002, the 28 percent rule was in place. In 2007, when my wife and I moved from Indiana to Wisconsin for a promotional job opportunity, the 28 percent rule apparently went out the window. At that time, that 28 percent rule had jumped up to a 56 percent rule.

So, now the bank was offering us much more money to drop on a house. But, why would I want to buy such an expensive house and potentially struggle to make ends meet each month? We chose to stick with the 28 percent rule.

Each of us make decisions that impact our lives more than any banker or politician. But, it seems as though we are quick to blame others for our own challenges instead of picking ourselves up by our bootstraps to make forward progress.

When we can stop blaming others for our challenges and begin to focus on what we need to do to change our direction -- then we will be able to make this economy better. Don’t leave it up to the politicians. We need to act with a sense of ownership with every decision we make every day.

There are lots of jobs in the employment section of our newspaper, yet how many people are applying for jobs? Extended unemployment is making it easy for complacency to keep our work ethic on the couch.

As I stated earlier, we are battling the values of privilege versus entitlement. Have we learned nothing from those who traversed the Great Depression?

Comments:







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15

3:13:20, Aug 6th 2012

says:
WHAT??? I have to accept responsibility for my own actions??? I can't just pour coffee in my own lap and then sue someone else for it??? Since when???

Thank you Jason for this article! I couldn't agree with you more on this one.


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