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The blame game trumps finding a real solution

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POSTED October 9, 2009 2:01 a.m.
America’s favorite pastime these days isn’t baseball. It’s the blame game.

It’s played to the hilt by the Greek Choruses out there who tell us the economy is collapsing, schools are in the toilet, we’re about to have a secular repeat of 40 days and 40 nights via global warming, criminals are taking over, and whatever the  current crisis du jour.

We verbally debate, write, Twitter, and blog our anger finding ironic solace in assessing blame instead of looking inward.

There isn’t a fine line between constructive criticism – even done with sarcasm or wit – and outright demagoguery reinforced by a sense of absolute righteousness and name calling. The latter is what makes it impossible to find common ground for solutions.

First, we all need to get a grip. This is not a great economy by any stretch especially with 13.8 percent unemployment in Manteca. We need to keep our wits or else we’re going to make the situation worse. Many of us who are still working are on edge but then that is really not much different for some than it was when the good times were rolling and spending instead of saving was almost the universal mantra. There are 87.2 percent of us still employed. Searching for blame for the high unemployment – and there are many possible culprits – takes focus away for banding together as a community to help everyone get through this.

The Great Recession has made many people losers but it has also provided opportunity for people who were never able to seize it before such as first-time home buyers. Affordability is back after being hammered into the ground by a consumer driven housing market that demanded bigger and bigger houses with enough whistle and bells to drown out Van Halen in concert.

So who is to blame for the liar loans and easy money? Congress? Banks? Mortgage lenders? Builders? Homebuyers? You didn’t hear anyone complaining when people who were ill-equipped financially to buy $500,000 homes were doing so. Everyone got caught up in the greed to some degree. Now that we’ve overshot the runway by a country mile, everyone is trying to blame someone else. Are some more culpable? Absolutely. Do those who got away with millions from putting together an unstable house of cards deserve all the blame? Each of those cards were made up of people who never once thought about what was being offered to them was either dishonest or too good to be true.

We waste so much energy on blaming that it can drain people emotionally and steel their resolve to “look out for their own” when in essence that is a surefire way of creating a downward whirlpool since we live in a community and not on an isolated island by ourselves.

The city’s budget crisis is a prime example. When it was sunny no one was cursing the powers that be when they signed a four-year contract with employee group that a rainy day would come so it wasn’t wise to do so. Now that the proverbial rainy day has turned into a deluge, assigning blame – and not getting out of the predicament we find ourselves in -has become the highest priority with a lot of people.

In reality, the budget crisis’ impact every local jurisdiction in this state bar none is no different than what set the private sector on its head. Even though in the back of everyone’s mind they had to know what is unfolding today was a possibility, it wasn’t enough to scare them off from buying housing they couldn’t afford or entering into four-year contracts with generous pay raises that were based on crystal ball forecasts.

Did those employees deserve their pay? Yes, and they still do. Can the city afford to give them the same pay and what was promised? Unfortunately not.

If they could that would mean a lot less of us in the private sector would be hurting.

It’s easy to understand anger and wanting to blame someone for our woes.

In reality just like we’re all in this together we all share some of the blame.

It’s time, though, to focus our collective energy on making sure that Manteca as a community not only survives but thrives as well.
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