Personal Responsibility

30 Jul

First off I am not some raving pull yourself up by the bootstraps type nor am I a closeted Republican….let me just say that since I know words like personal responsibility have been completely misused by such individuals. That said, I have a rant that’s been brewing off and on for a while and I need to let it out.

When the hell did folks in America stop exercising any type of responsibilityover their lives? No, seriously… I grew up in a working class Black family, some times life was good and hell, Moms and Pops even bought us name brand cereal and sometimes we were just lucky to have food. However Mom and Dad despite the rough times always worked at least Dad did most of time and one of the few times he tried to be a slacker and we were staying with my grandparents, I still remember my Grandpa saying “If I got to work everyone up in this beyotch needs to work or be looking for work.” Needless to say my Dad got off his ass and manned up and as one might say these days.

No, work has always been in my vocabulary, when I graduated from 8th grade at 14, that summer before high school started I lied about my age (this was back when you didn’t need to show id to work) and got my first job and I have been working ever since barring late pregnancy and right after having my babies. Now when I got pregnant with eldest child at 18, a few months into what these days would probably be known as a starter marriage, I didn’t have insurance and well babies cost money. So I had to sign up for state medical insurance which after baby boy was born turned into a very brief stint of getting welfare benefits. Let me just say that was one of the most humiliating times in my life.

Back then in Chicago it was called Public Aid aka the Aid office and even then at 19, I knew this was not some shit I wanted to do or be on long term, by the time my son turned 13-14 mos, I landed a decent gig and have never looked back. Don’t get me wrong, it has not always been smooth sailing for me since that time, but barring some really bad shit, the idea of getting a gubment handout just is not for me. There was one period in my life when my son was 2-3, where I was working 3 jobs, I had people ask me why was I doing that when I could apply for XYZ benefits, yes I could but sorry that was not for me.

However because of my humble roots if you want to call em that I have always had a compassionate heart towards helping people, back when I was working at a homeless shelter, I will admit I often bent the rules to help folks out especially those that showed some spunk. There were times when the shelter didn’t have transit money to help clients yet for those clients who had just landed a job, I often would slide them some carfare from my own money.

All that to say while I know what its like to have hard times, been there, done that and as Dave Ramsey would say I even got the t-shirt. The truth is sometimes we make poor choices that get us in a bad situation and unless we own up to it, our shit won’t get better. For me that was the realization that I have/had a spending problem, the spousal unit had been trying to tell me for years that I spend too much but last year, our lives too a sharp right when I wanted to go straight and I had to own up to the fact that sista-girl spends way too much. I am happy to say I am taming that beast, some days are better than others but awareness is a big part of it.

No this is a rather sensitive issue but why the hell do people have babies when they know they are broke and as my Granny used to say don’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of? Look, I know the desire to have a baby is real, shit when that bug hit me almost 4 years ago I jumped on it but not before I looked at our finances and had a realistic idea of whether adding another child was reasonable and even doable. In our case we knew that by giving up certain pleasures we could afford it. However in the past several years I have run across some folks who are in real dire straights who keep having babies when they don’t have a pot or window or anything else and I am sorry but its madness to me to do so.

In one instance, a couple where both parties are on a fixed income (SSI) and already had 3 kids decided to have another baby, this is a family that every month must go to the food pantry because their food stamps don’t last the whole month and they have no additional money to buy food. I barely know this couple but when they announced they were expecting baby #4, I really wanted to go why??? I’m sorry but if you are at the food pantry every month maybe another mouth to feed is a bad idea….

By the same token, you have so-called middle class folks buying half a million dollar homes and yes I know in certain parts of the country that is nothing, but folks buying homes with either no money down or fancy loans like the interest-only loan. Duh, it used to be you needed to put 20% down to buy and excuse me but what the hell is the difference between a interest only loan and renting? Nothing except that one gives the illusion of ownership but you are no closer to owning than the guy who rents outright. Yet now droves of folks are losing their homes now and yes some of it is because of predatory lenders but in some cases people did not sit down and think the situation through. I know because had it not been for having a savvy ass father in-law and doing a bit of research, my ass might be joining some of y’all.

Look my point is not to rail against folks and kick anyone when they are down but as I get older, I see there is a lot of value in searching ourselves and really assessing things before we make what could be bad decisions and that is part of being an adult and taking some personal responsibility for ourselves.

6 Responses to “Personal Responsibility”

  1. Get Togetha July 30, 2008 at 9:02 pm #

    I’m where most folks are when it comes in between. Conservative and Liberal. But I mainly whole heartedly agree that personal responsibility is lacking; particularly in the black community. Perhaps it’s because of “poverty pimp” leadership that helps to perpetuate the victimization chip or simply because we are inspired and tired of trying.

    Personal responsibility is the ultimate choice if you wanna get somewhere in life. No one’s gonna give you your dream job, house, car, travel experience; you’ve got to go out and get it. I guess you can say I’m the pull em up by the bootstraps type.

  2. OG July 31, 2008 at 8:31 am #

    I feel you! The whole world seems to have this lack of work ethic and owning up to bad decisions.

    Actually an interest only loan isn’t a bad deal if you live in an are where the homes are appreciating crazily, you have equity before you know it. The real issue is you need to have done your research to ensure that will really happen you also need to be ready to commit to living in that house for at the minimum of 5 years to have some equity. That is how it’s better than renting because with renting there isn’t a chance at the equity at all no matter HOW LONG you live there. The issue is why are they even being offered in places where a conventional loan is affordable or doable for the average person. I admit the easiest way is to save yoru 20% but I didn’t buy either of my houses like that. I bought one FHA and the other no money down. However you are right I would view interest only loans as investment vehicles after your first home, not mainstream financing.

    Now on the children thing I JUST don;t get it. I remember when I was married and we started talking about kids I told my ex we weren’t ready. I told him we had a list of things we needed to have completed to raise our child in what I felt was a responsible manner along with a few us issue WE HAD to resolve. He was more than happy to just start having kids and react to what that meant. Even our family members were like well you will never be ready financially that’s just having kids so have them. I said that is BS. Never ready? What? Please you may never be ready but you can at least be prepared. So I just don’t get having a baby when you can’t afford to feed the ones you have or yourselves.

    Oh yeah I feel you on the spending to much it is something I’ve been working on the past few years. I am single black female addicted to retail, but knowing it half the battle. FOR REAL!!


  3. blackgirlinmaine July 31, 2008 at 9:50 am #

    OG, thanks for explaining the loan thing to me in better detail. =) Retail therapy is a hard addiction, thankfully living in Maine I have less shopping options than in a larger metropolitan area so that helps alot. (as I prepare for a daytrip with my son into Boston this weekend, sole purpose is to shop..LOL)

    Get Togetha, good points you made.

  4. OG July 31, 2008 at 8:42 pm #

    Boston? There is GREAT shopping here but I actually went to RI and lost my mind in DT Prov last weekend! *lol*


  5. blackgirlinmaine August 1, 2008 at 2:50 pm #

    Og, don’t tempt me LOL. I promised myself I will be good in Boston and only buy 1-2 things for myself, last thing I need to know is there is even better shopping near by.

  6. LBell August 11, 2008 at 6:11 pm #

    I confess I’ve been using my credit card a little more than usual in the last few weeks…but it was because I was moving and I had to get some basic things to make this old-ass house a little more livable…like a dehumidifier for the basement. I got the cheapie one too, from Wally World. In fact, Wally World ain’t NEVAH seen this much of me before.

    Seriously, though…I thank GOD I grew up when I did and with the parents I had. My mother spent part of her childhood on welfare and she swore she’d never live on aid again and instilled that in her kids. Like you said sometimes people need a hand up but when you’ve got folks who just can’t seem to get it together no matter how many hands up they get the problem isn’t with you, it’s with THEM.

    You may remember back in the 80s (?) the CHA was talking about going into public housing apartments without warrants to check for drugs, guns, etc. Now on the one hand I understood the privacy violation but on the other hand I was like: See, that’s one of the things that would get me up OUT of public housing by any means necessary. When you’re on the public dime you lose certain rights and I know I wouldn’t have been able to handle the humiliation.

    But then again…I don’t have kids. Kids are a game-changer in every respect. Too bad more people don’t think about that before having unprotected sex.

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