Archive for Friday, June 26, 2009

Human nature

Excesses got us where we are, remain a danger and cannot be governed by rule books.

June 26, 2009


Billionaire Warren Buffett, with good reason, is constantly sought as an adviser on matters economic and ways to deal soundly and effectively with the huge challenges we now face as a nation. The Omaha financial expert has a record of achievement that justifies such status.

One of Buffett’s strongest qualities is his ability to explain things in plain language. For example, some time ago he described the economic meltdown that involved so many stupid and greedy moves as an “economic Pearl Harbor.” In the eyes of many, that is exactly what occurred.

But just as Buffett has the knack of describing what has happened, he also can provide guidelines on what we need to do to overcome the recession.

Buffett said the other day that the government needs to make sure the economy doesn’t wind up in a situation similar to last September when the level of borrowing threatened to cripple the economy.

What about more controls? In some cases, yes, he responded, then emphasized that it is hard to write rules to prevent excesses like those that led to the mess we must overcome. Then this gem:

“It’s human nature to go to excess.”

How much clearer can it be? Excess got America into its severe recession, and allowing it to continue will cause new difficulties. No rule book can eliminate such a danger.

We can only hope that the people now working to right our economic ship will keep in mind the excesses such as subprime mortgages, exorbitant pay and bonuses for executives, the overall greed that caused so many grievances and the historic national debt this nation and its citizens now bear.

But as Buffett warns us, rule books no matter how well-intentioned will not do the job. It is going to take a lot of good, able, unselfish people working long and hard to minimize the excesses, now and in the future.


jaywalker 8 years, 12 months ago

"We can only hope that the people now working to right our economic ship will keep in mind the excesses such as subprime mortgages,exorbitant pay and bonuses for executives..."

Whaaat?! The pay and bonuses for executives had nothing to do with our current economic state nor will it help right our 'ship'.

"rule books no matter how well-intentioned will not do the job. It is going to take a lot of good, able, unselfish people working long and hard to minimize the excesses"

Without establishing 'rules'? Mmkay. Good luck with that.

Seemed like this could be a strong editorial but ended up weaker than twice-brewed coffee.

Scott Tichenor 8 years, 12 months ago

I'm wondering why the LJW never editorializes on the disgraceful neoconservatives that keep preaching family values out of one side of their mouth and voting that way, then playing the other side with their mistresses. Quick to point fingers at Democratic leaders, silent on Conservatives. This isn't a newspaper. This is a one-way street bullhorn for the Republican party.

Tom McCune 8 years, 12 months ago


You can always tell when Dolph writes the opeds himself.

Tom McCune 8 years, 12 months ago

Maybe you can't write a law to cover every possible situation, but the current economic situation is at least partly the result of repealing some laws that had been working well and preventing problems for a long time, such as the second Glass-Steagall Act. Maybe Glass-Steagall was a somewhat crude "firewall" strategy, but it prevented a lot of problems from 1933 until it was repealed in 1999.

gogoplata 8 years, 12 months ago

The Federal Reserve System is the root of our economic evil. They provided the excess. Time to end the Fed.

gogoplata 8 years, 12 months ago

Support HR1207 to audit the Federal Reserve. Call your Senator and Congressman.

Music_Girl 8 years, 12 months ago

My mother taught me that if you couldn't pay cash for it then you didn't need it except in certain circumstances such as a car or a house. Though it took a couple years for me to listen to that advice, it has kept my parents out of financial hardship when most others are tanking. No they aren't rich and no they don't have a lot of "stuff" but everything they do have (except 1 vehicle) they own outright. Self control and realistic priorities are going to bring the economy back around, not pouring more money into a financial sinkhole.

George Lippencott 8 years, 12 months ago

I wish I understood that intent of whoever wrote this piece. Is guilt universal? Did all those who lived within their means, paid their bills, planed for their retirement and the kids’ college - and you get the notion – responsible people - guilty? By hard statistics, these people number between 60 and 80 % of all of us. Just what is our guilt?

Are those of limited capacity tricked into mortgages they cannot afford, or credit cards they should not have had guilty? Programs that had the best of intentions that tried to help these people have undermined them. Who drove those programs – the rest of us or a limited subset?

Seems to me that we should look to those who benefited from what went on, as they are the ones who are truly guilty. This group would include the politicians who come out of office filthy rich by enabling processes that enrich the few, the people on Wall Street who took theirs and passed the problem on, the financial services community elite that built the Ponzi scheme.

There is no collective guilt. There is very selective guilt. If they can make the rest of us buy into this fallacy, they avoid responsibility and we all will get back quickly to what almost destroyed us – and enriched them. Yes, you must judge people. It is about time we started to do that once again - not with maliciousness or misinformation but with maturity and common sense.

gogoplata 8 years, 12 months ago

Greed is tempered by a free market. When the government steps in and removes risk greed gets out of control.

Kirk Larson 8 years, 12 months ago

"To have more, Desire less."

It used to be considered a virtue to be frugal and live within your means. I suppose since the survivors of the Depression are dying out, that's no longer true. Now, people expect, unrealistically, to someday make the outrageous salaries some CEO's make, whether by lottery or reality show. So they charge up lifestyles they can't afford. A little aseticism never hurt anybody. Might do our country some good as a whole. I do want I can to prevent waste, keep my carbon footprint low, recycle and such. It means I save money and get more exercise than I otherwise would. And I haven't had a credit card for over 15 years. I own everything outright but my house.

Tom McCune 8 years, 12 months ago

"Why don't somebody print the truth about our present economic situation? We spent six years of wild buying on credit -- everything under the sun, whether we needed it or not -- and now we are having to pay for 'em, and we are howling like a pet coon. This would be a great world to dance in if we didn't have to pay the fiddler." Will Rogers, June 27, 1930

"You could transfer Congress over to run Standard Oil or General Motors, and they would have both things bankrupt in two years." Will Rogers, Nov. 11, 1928

[In a speech to the American Bankers Association convention in New York City] "You have a wonderful organization. I understand you have ten thousand here. And if you count the ones in the various federal prisons, it brings your total membership up to around thirty thousand." Will Rogers, 1923

If only the last one were true today. The main thing the government is doing wrong right now is not throwing the book at many more of the guys who orchestrated a bunch of financial stuff that was outright fraud.

gogoplata 8 years, 12 months ago

Why don't somebody print the truth about our present economic situation? We spent six years of wild buying on credit — everything under the sun, whether we needed it or not — and now we are having to pay for 'em, and we are howling like a pet coon.

Q. Where did all of this easy credit come from? A. The Federal Reserve

George Lippencott 8 years, 12 months ago

Newell_Post (Anonymous) says…

Credit did not cause this problem! Greed did. Most people managed their credit just fine. I grow tired of this mantra without any concrete data to support it!!

Tom McCune 8 years, 12 months ago


I agree, but the greed was facilitated by easy credit and deregulation.

jehovah_bob 8 years, 12 months ago

Oh, I thought this was going to be another Michael Jackson blog.

"Greed is Good" -- Gordon Gecko 1987

George Lippencott 8 years, 12 months ago

Lord no! Greed is not good (I know in moderation it might be useful). The problem I have about this whole thread is the generalization that everybody was greedy. I suspect that to a degree we all are but that is not the problem from last fall. A few people were very very greedy and sold the rest of us down the river. Generalizing the guilt lets those who did that off the hook.

notajayhawk 8 years, 12 months ago

farfle (Anonymous) says…

"Before the Reagan era there was a social stigma against greed. Then came the mantra, “Greed is a good thing.”"

One of the things I hate about communication in this medium is the absence of non-verbals - facial expressions, tone, cadence, etc. ... it's so hard to tell when people are making a joke or trying to be serious.

Unfortunately, the anti-Republican rhetoric rampant on these message boards makes it clear there are plenty of people who really believe cr*p like that.

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 11 months ago

Why do people onlt talk about CEO's being greedy? What about pro athletes? What about actors/actresses? What about people who run KU, KSU etc? What about coaches? What about Randy Weseman? I have not seen any these people say the will take less money even though they were offered more?

Greed goes beyond the CEO's, people just need to wake up and smell the greed all around us.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 11 months ago

3 cheers for Music girl!! I think she has the solution. It's all about NOT living above your means. Newell Post you, too!! I've done a lot of research on the subject and it all seems to come back to repealing the Glass-Steagal Act. America's priorities need some re-alignment, too. We can pay celebrities untold sums of money for their entertainment value, but we can't pay our teachers (and others who hold our children's futures in their hands) any kind of decent wage?? How can the NFL, NBA,etc. be more important than our children's futures???!

George Lippencott 8 years, 11 months ago

grammaddy (Anonymous) says…

You can use credit and remain within your means! I have a real problem with that confusion

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