Hey, Bailout Snivelers: Hush. You Don't Need It.

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, March 1, 2009

In his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Obama declared that he was going to "speak frankly and directly."

That's what I want to do as well. I want to speak frankly and directly to the many people who have written to me complaining that they aren't directly benefiting from the federal government's efforts to resuscitate our gasping economy.

The sniveling sentiments of these people come down to one question: "What about me?"

"How come only those who spend irresponsibly get bailed out?" a reader asked. "As a person who thinks before he spends, I have a lot to be frustrated about these days."

Another reader from Indiana wrote: "Frankly, I'm infuriated. I don't make a ton of money, but I live within my means. I purchased my home eight years ago and just paid my mortgage off this past November. It's extremely frustrating to see us bailing out people who made foolish decisions while many others meet the obligations they agreed to."

I'm a big proponent of personal responsibility. I preach it in this column, in my home, in the community, at my church and to anyone else who will stand still long enough.

We know that a lot -- although not all -- of the people in trouble in this economy made bad choices that ended up costing them their homes. A lot of people didn't save when times were good. A lot of people didn't do a lot of things they should have done that would have allowed them to better withstand this wretched downturn.

"We have lived through an era where, too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity," Obama said.

I understand that people who did the right thing are frustrated. They saved. They scrimped. They crunched the numbers and bought homes they could afford long term.

I understand their need to have someone pat them on the back.

So consider this your pat.

But I'm getting increasingly weary of people carping that they aren't getting a piece of the billions of dollars in debt the federal government is amassing to try to dam up this economic mudslide.

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