A Look in the Mirror

From the September 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

As much as we would like to vent our disgust at the big evil banks, perhaps we should take a closer look at ourselves, too. Bankster culture is little different than everyday culture.

No one was complaining when the big banks offered low-document/no-document liar’s loans to anyone with a pulse who wanted to buy a house. Everyone liked it when cheap credit from the banks caused house prices to rise and the stock market to boom. The majority of people still don’t want to cut government spending, even though we have to borrow unsustainable amounts to pay for it. And how many of us just happily “keep the change” when a bank error happens in our favor?

Meanwhile, we all relish playing “gotcha” with irresponsible bankers—as if that somehow ameliorates the fact that most people can’t even put their own financial houses in order. The banks may have been the biggest actor in the 2008 financial crisis and the resulting high unemployment, but they had a full supporting cast. The housing bubble was only possible because of the huge supply of homebuyers willing to speculate with borrowed money on ever rising prices. And those homebuyers were aided by crooked real-estate agents and house appraisers who were willing to fudge the numbers. There must be an honest inquiry into the actions of the banks. But we all need to take a long, hard, honest look in the mirror too.