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Don’t Blame ME For Your Credit Crisis, Mr. Paulson

Don’t Blame Me for your Credit Crisis, Mr. Paulson You changed the rules for what constitutes a smart financial decision, and now you want to turn around and blame ME because I borrowed money? Screw you, buddy; let me tell you how I see it. I grew up in an era when our parents still remembered the Great Depression and debt was the enemy. They waited four years to get married and four more to have children because they couldn’t afford to live away from their parents until my dad became an attorney.

Don’t Blame Me for your Credit Crisis, Mr. Paulson

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You changed the rules for what constitutes a smart financial decision, and now you want to turn around and blame ME because I borrowed money? Screw you, buddy; let me tell you how I see it.

I grew up in an era when our parents still remembered the Great Depression and debt was the enemy. They waited four years to get married and four more to have children because they couldn’t afford to live away from their parents until my dad became an attorney.

 I built my first home with my husband, literally with our own two hands and out of our pockets.  We had no mortgage from day one. I learned to plumb and wire and pour concrete with my Ivy League degrees. I started my first business in 1980 and I paid for my computer and answering machine with cash.

Somewhere in the 1980’s it changed. My mortgage interest was deductible, so when I bought my second house, it seemed like a smart decision to take a  mortgage.It was a terrifying amount of debt. I put 30% down on the house, though, because I was by then a single mom and “self-employed” (that was how they looked at a business owner then). I always lived below my means,

After a long successful track record in business, I finally got a line of credit to grow, which was frozen in the 1980s during the real estate crisis and the market crash of 1987, and I almost went out of business. I was advised by all the best attorneys and accountants to declare bankruptcy and start over again.

I couldn’t do it. Fearfully, I repaid every dime while everyone else around me (all the really “smart” businessmen) went bankrupt as a good “business decision.” I sold off assets to do it. My prized Mercedes, some art work: material things I knew from my studies of Eastern philosophy meant nothing but suffering.

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I learned never to repeat the same mistakes. So in 2005, I sold all my expensive real estate in Phoenix, because I saw the bubble burst coming. I bought a home in Half Moon Bay to be near my children. (But I did take one of those “interest only” loans because it was the “smart” thing to do.)

And by now, debt was referred to as “leverage,” and real estate was known as a game of “leverage.” You only gained through “leverage.” I would have felt stupid not doing it.  It gave me more money to invest and put away for the mythical retirement. Retirement counselors all over place urged me to save and invest. So I leveraged my present to pay for my future.

By now, I’m substantial enough to get tax advice, and established enough to be an angel.  I’m invested in many different startups in various stages of growth and/or disarray. I own land. I’m starting a bank.

I judge what to do and what not to do by what the government incentivizes me to do. I pay a big mortgage to live in a place that’s expensive, but where I want to be. It’s all tax deductible. I use my home equity line to fix up the place. It’s deductible. I lease my equipment and my car. Most of the interest is deductible, or else I don’t borrow. Most of what I do with my business is deductible, or I don’t do it. My life follows the instructions of the tax code.

I’m a good girl. A good and proud American, investing in entrepreneurship, spending to keep the economy going, doing my damnedest to encourage American markets.

I’m not a deadbeat NiNJA with a sub-prime mortgage sold to me by a fraudulent mortgage broker. I’m a high value customer at Wells Fargo with a FICO score of over 700.

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And yet I’m being blamed for the current financial crisis, because I’m a borrower. And I am suffering because once again those lines of credit you told me to get are frozen. I can’t invest, I can’t save, I can’t spend, and I can’t exit.

I can only go to yoga. You smart guys on Wall Street and in Washington are all the same. You make the rules and then you blame me. Well, I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.

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About the author

Francine Hardaway, Ph.D is a serial entrepreneur and seasoned communications strategist. She co-founded Stealthmode Partners, an accelerator and advocate for entrepreneurs in technology and health care, in 1998.

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