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Author: GusSmed Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 62022  
Subject: Such different conclusions Date: 2/17/2007 10:47 PM
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I recently read an eye-opening post by MadCapitalist, here:

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=25187482

If he's currently in your p-box, trust me, it's worth peeking for this post. There are no gratuitous bashes of Lib'ruls or touts of the virtues of the Market, red in tooth and claw. It's some enlightening exposition of his personal financial experiences. It touched me, personally, because I saw a fair amount of myself in what he wrote. Though there's always the possibility it's just projection on my part.

What I don't really get is how we ended up with such different perspectives on the politics of financial issues, given some of his experiences. How can you do what he's done, make the mistakes he's made, and still think that being broke is solely about being personally irresponsible?

I believe in personal responsibility, but I also think that's not the whole picture. Sometimes you make errors in life. Usually, a lot of errors. Even if you have the best intentions, even if you learn from your mistakes, sometimes you still end up at zero, financially. Not everyone who ends up in debt gets there because they couldn't grasp the principle of Not Buying Stuff You Can't Afford.

Sure, it's still "your fault." But there's no need to attach so much moral freight to the "fault" part of it. The real character flaw is not in making mistakes, but in being unwilling or unable to learn from them.

I got lucky. I turned myself around at 30, and made enough money to retire at 39. But I can easily see how it doesn't work out that way for everyone. I support government safety nets, because I know what it's like when you hit bottom, and I know it isn't always the result of sloth and irresponsibility. Lots of hard workers end up in bad situations at some point in their lives, and I don't know how anyone who has been in that position fails to gain that sense of perspective.

I do understand resenting the taxes that support those programs. When I was struggling, FICA was a pretty big chunk of my income. Particularly when I was self-employed. Now that I'm fairly comfortable financially, I don't resent taxes so much, even though I pay more now than I ever did. It's just that I don't need the tax money as much.

- Gus
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