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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Edmund Andrews Part 2

OK, I know I said I wouldn't read any more about Edmund Andrews, the NYT writer who just published a book on his own sub-prime mortgage. But you can't get away from this guy! Now he's been featured on All Things Considered. He's certainly getting a lot of free publicity. If you're looking for some good writing on finance, I'd suggest you check some of the writers on my blogroll, all of whom share one thing that Mr. Andrews does not have: a sense of responsibility. Here is Mr. Andrews on NPR:

"That said, I really don't think I need to apologize for my mistakes because the country was in a situation at that moment where the whole financial system was enticing and enabling and encouraging everybody to borrow as much as they could," he says. "And the decisions that were made at the lender level and the Wall Street level were far more cynical and reckless than anything an individual consumer could have done."

There has been so much venom directed at the poor, working or otherwise, for succumbing to the lure of these loans. I've seen similar "tough love" applied to college freshman who get into credit card debt, enticed by the offer of a free tee shirt. And college graduates, who profess to be surprised by the size of their monthly payments, are met with "Duh. You signed on the dotted line." Let's have a heart for these people, who do not have the advantages of the Mr. Andrews with his access to the media publicity machine.

And, while we're at it, let me give you some lines from the literary character who never accepts responsibility for his actions. (Actually, he does for a brief moment or two, but then relapses). That character is Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost. Here's one of my fave moments, where Satan places the blame for his rebellion on God!

But he who reigns
Monarch in Heav’n, till then as one secure
Sat on his Throne, upheld by old repute,
Consent or custome, and his Regal State
Put forth at full, but still his strength conceal’d,
Which tempted our attempt, and wrought our fall.

What think you, Readers, of the Blame Game?


Funny about Money said...

Mwa ha hah! I love Milton's Satan!

Hmh... Well, I'll say that when I read Andrews's NY Times piece (he of enough means to afford, evidently, a highly effective press agent...), I thought you are a moron! But then on second thought relented: Let she who is without fault....

It's hard to avoid the sense that the guy may be dramatizing some of his experience. But yea or nay on that count, his story iconizes what's happened to a lot of people in this country. While it's true that some lenders may have concealed a "strength...which tempted our attempt and wrought our fall," most of us did a fair amount of working toward the fall ourselves. The madness (sin?) was collective.

Duchesse said...

Blame is a strategy of people unwilling or unable to accept their portion of responsibility.

Just watched a terrific news feature about a comic, James Cunningham, who appears at Canadian high schools to teach teens about smart money management. He's hilarious, and gives them some solid advice, showing how interest piles up with big trash bags of "money". (More info at

Somehow, for many these foundational lessons were not in place, the temptation great.

At least Andrews has some skills to dig himself out.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Funny--Don't love Milton's Satan tooooo much.

@Duchesse--Will check out the video. Thanks. Any new comments on Andrews must be in the light of recent news reports (see Atlantic story).

Anonymous said...

I have not read the Andrews story...but "banks" who made these poor loans ARE at fault. No one can FORCE a bank to loan money to a poor credit risk.

The same is true of credit card companies. They are no better than drug dealers, in my humble opinion.

That said, both parties are at fault. Corporations, however, are not apt to accepting corporate blame.