Mar 022010
 

by Linda-Ann Stewart

I’ve been reading articles that have blamed positive thinking for the housing bubble and our current recession. They claim that banks were optimistic that the increase in home prices would just keep climbing.

That wasn’t positive thinking. That was greed and completely ignoring common sense.

Banks and mortgage brokers falsified loan documents, inflated buyer’s incomes, to get people into homes. They did this, even though they knew the buyers wouldn’t be able to afford the payments then or when the mortgages adjusted a couple of years later.

Once they had the mortgages, banks then bundled and sold them, making more money. They passed those bundles around like hot potatoes, as investor after investor bought them. If they had truly been optimistic, the banks would have retained the mortgages, expecting them to grow even more valuable.

Optimism, and the Law of Attraction, rarely supersedes natural law. When you walk off a roof, you will probably fall, and not float gently to the ground. When you reach into a 350-degree oven to take out a casserole, positive thinking won’t keep your fingers from being burned (or dropping the dish).

Positive thinking looks for the best solution in a difficult situation. It looks for the silver lining to the thundercloud. It doesn’t ignore the thunderhead. It doesn’t ignore that there are lemons when it chooses to make lemonade. For the lemonade couldn’t be made without the lemons. Optimism opens to new possibilities, in spite of the current situation, and uses them to help create a brighter future.

For anyone who mistakenly believes that positive thinking got us into this recession, think again. It was greed and deliberately disregarding all reason, history and responsibility. “Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”

I’ve also recently heard that greed is good for capitalism. It’s not. Greed is concerned with “What’s in it for me – today.” Greed doesn’t care about the future, or building a foundation, or growing a business. All it cares about is what it can squeeze out today. We’ve seen this with leaders and CEO’s, who leave a company in ruins, rake in bonuses anyway, and go onto another position. They don’t care about the business, just what they can get out of it right now. There is no accountability or responsibility for undermining the business. It’s a very shortsighted view.

Capitalism is concerned with “What’s in it for the community and me. For today and the future. For as the community is served and grows, then the business grows as well.” It’s enlightened self-interest, realizing that as it invests and help others grow, they reap the rewards. This creates a sustainable future, one that creates growth and expansion. Capitalism is interested in long-term results, not short-term gains.

And this is exactly what the leaders of Wall Street and the banks lost sight of. They only cared about the moment, and that single transaction. They weren’t invested in the future and didn’t care about the problems their transaction would cause. And that’s not optimism. It’s not capitalism. It’s greed, plain and simple.

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