Not that it’s any surprise that our illustrious leaders are sticking their noses where they don’t belong, but this particular meddling in our economy has me especially fired up.

Two issues have hit the news in the last day or so that indicate our government’s absurd belief that they can save everyone from everything – even incredibly stupid financial decisions.

First, the White House is pushing for a rate freeze on adjustable rate mortgages to help slow down the foreclosure rate in the US. I’m not exactly sure what the White House thinks this is going to do, other than stop foreclosures for the next few months or years, only to have them pick back up again. Treasury Secretary Paulson claims that this “rate freeze” will benefit financially responsible homeowners who are struggling to meet their mortgage payments, as opposed to deadbeats who just don’t want to pay their bills. Right. And welfare only goes to those who “need” it.

The argument could be made that the White House is trying to save the economy, and the way to do it is to help out those who are causing the economy to tank by not paying their bills.

The solution, I believe, is not to use the government to bail these folks out, but to teach them and the rest of us a possibly painful lesson – don’t buy stuff you can’t afford. If our government continues to encourage a “society of debt,” we are going to continue to see a declining economy (until, of course, it bottoms out and can’t decline anymore) and the government’s notion that they can continue to cover Americans’ behinds when they live beyond their means is naive at best. It has to end sometime, and I say better now than later.

Hillary Clinton’s genius plan, by the way, is to place a moratorium on foreclosures for 90 days. I’m not sure what she thinks is going to happen at the end of 90 days…maybe that people who aren’t paying their bills will wake up and decide to become financially responsible?

Congress is also currently reviewing credit card company practices of resetting interest rates based on a customers credit score, even if the borrower has been paying their minimum payments on time. Congress’ complaint is that it’s not fair to raise interest rates in this way and the mean old credit card companies are forcing Americans further into debt.

This, again, is meddling in the economy in such a way that Congress is encouraging further bad financial behavior. If I thought for one second that the people who are struggling to pay their minimum payments each month would actually stop living beyond their means as a response to Congress forbidding these interest rate adjustments, then, by golly, I might just say, “go ahead!” Behavior, however, has to change before any sort of interest rate issue is going to help the situation.

Congress encourages such poor financial behavior by borrowing and spending beyond their means, so what do they expect the American people to do? It seems to me that Congress, rather than interfering in the credit card industry, should lead by example and start paying of its own debt.

Before anyone starts calling me “insensitive” or “mean-spirited,” let me assure you that I have my own experience with credit card debt. My husband and I lived on rice while we struggled to pay off our credit cards. Literally rice. Sometimes we would spice it up with salsa! We finally obtained a consolidation loan and have since paid off that loan as well. What else have we done? Stopped carrying credit card balances.

Like wayward children, debtors need to learn their lesson the hard way. No amount of government bail-outs is going to change bad credit behavior like having to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get out of debt all by yourself. And then never go into debt again. Even if these government bail-outs work in the short term, I promise that we’ll be dealing with the same problem again in the not-so-distant future.

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