January 25th, 2008
12:49 PM ET
10 years ago

Real People, Real Issues: Personal Responsibility

CNN's Mark Preston interviews   Lester Gilbert.

CNN's Mark Preston interviews Lester Gilbert.

ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS, ABILENE, Texas (CNN) – Lester Gilbert is 75, and he is still working. His wife is 81, and she has a job. The Gilberts don’t need to be employed, but they choose to work.

We met him in the early morning hours Friday at a truck stop as he refueled before getting back on the road. Gilbert delivers recreational vehicles for a living, and he said he is not happy with the decisions being made in Washington that are impacting the economy such as the bipartisan agreement reached Thursday on a stimulus package.

“It is OK to help people, but they put themselves in debt,” Gilbert said. “I didn’t do it, and I am going to bail them out? I don’t agree with it.”

As for the subprime mortgage issue, Gilbert said people need to personally pay the price if they are not able to afford their homes.

“Let them go belly up like I did. I never went belly, belly up, but I had to crawl and I had to do without. People don’t do without. That is the problem.”

Gilbert lives in Petersburg, Illinois, but his perspective on the economy is shaped by not only what happens in his own backyard, but what he sees as he motors down the nation’s interstate highways. Gilbert said he thinks that talk of a recession is overblown.

“It’s not weak like they think it is,” he said. “I go all over this country. People are not doing without.”

A self-described conservative, Gilbert said the politicians in Washington and presidential candidates need to change their tune.

“I want them to go back to the basics,” he said. “Just the basics.”

- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston

soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. ASL

    Thank you Mr. Gilbert. I didn't make the loans, I didn't get to live in the nice house, drive a new SUV, go boating on the weekend. Why should I pay for it??

    January 25, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  2. Don, Buffalo New York

    I couldn't agree with him more! That's the single biggest problem we have today. Everyone expects to have the government bail them out for their greed and stupidity.

    January 25, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. james

    Clinton is the most experienced to pull the country together. I'm affraid Obama will create a divide among races. Since the Democrat Black Caucus stated the African American's wouldn't come out to vote if Hillary is elected it's pretty obvious race plays a major role in Obama's campaign tactics.

    January 25, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. Barbara

    Kim....we make time for the things we value....don't we? What is it you value?

    January 25, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  5. LKG

    I agree with Stephanie – Mr. Lester Gilbert should run for President!! Todays society have to keep up with the Jones and they should care about only themselves and what they can afford and what they cannot afford. We should not have to bail these people out for homes they could not afford in the first place!! And the lenders should not have given them the loans only to know the loan was going to default!

    January 25, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. Jayjay

    Loser Kerry should butt out! He has dissed two people who supported him in his bid for President, and how does he repay them? Clinton and Edwards now surely know just what kind of a "friend" he is–with friends like him, who needs enemies, as the saying goes.

    January 25, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  7. James

    Back to basics, like what the consitution says. That sounds more like Ron Paul's area to me.

    January 25, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  8. D

    I totally agree with Mr. Gilbert, with the exception of being in a recession. I, like Mr. Gilbert, do not want to bail out these people, I can ill afford to. I have scrimped, and tried to save (not much mind you), but am able to pay my bills as of now. These people do not take responsibility for their own actions. Furthermore, the ensuing "rebate checks" will not be free by any means. The Government is bankrupt, they are borrowing this money at what percent?? from where?? No wonder this country is in such financial straights with these morons running it, both democrat and republican mind you.

    January 25, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. Britt

    Mr. Gilbert's exactly right. Those people got themselves in the mess they're in, and now it's time to pay the fiddler. Instead, they want to just cry about it and hope the Federal government and the American taxpayers bail them out.

    It's an attitude that's immature, irresponsible, and down right dispicable. It's the attitude that one of Hillary Clinton's bed-wetting supporters would have!

    Give 'em hell Mr. Gilbert!

    January 25, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  10. Big Brother 2008

    Smell the coffee yet?

    January 25, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  11. Anti Clintons

    Finally...CNN got it right!! they actually talked to the people of this country and wanted to know how they feel and think. They are the true workers of this country and CNN didn't try to shove something down our throats and tell us how THEY at CNN should be. It's about time to do something simple and right, took forever.

    The gentleman they spoke to got it right, greed has what got people where they are and time caught up to them, the wolves were nipping at their heals and and caught the idiots that over extended there money and can't pay for their homes, we shouldn't pay to bail the jerks out!

    the wolves will feast a long time now, don't vote for Hitlery or we will all be eaten!

    Obama 08!

    January 25, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  12. kevin from alaska

    This guy is right in a lot of cases. Maybe if people stopped complaining and worked harder things would get done. Look if you're married and there's two of you, you both have to work these days. Suck it up, everyone else is.

    January 25, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  13. Dave C - NJ

    So Conservative 4 Life, you are driving along and a drunk hits you and you lose your mobility. You lose your job, and can't pay the mortgage. You are right...it's all about lazy bums trying to screw you.

    But that isn't the normal scenario...the normal scenario is that you were given a high interest mortgage by lenders that exploit those with bad credit and have no hope of paying it back. They know this outright, they just bank on a certain percentage of people paying it back.

    Who created the mess exactly? If the sub-prime market wasn't so skewed, the problem would never have existed. So go vote with your big business buddies that cause all this crap in the first place.

    January 25, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  14. Newton, Chicago, IL

    Well, Lester, I'm a Democrat, but you are absolutely right. Owning a house isn't a right, you have to earn it. Nobody – not a single person – who could actually afford a house is in danger of foreclosure. They gambled that they could buy more house than they could really afford and they lost. It's called speculation and there shouldn't be any government financed "do overs". If you can't afford your house, move into someplace cheaper. There are lots of them for sale.

    January 25, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  15. Bruce, Harpers Ferry, WV

    The old man makes perfect sense to me.

    January 25, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  16. John

    One of the biggest problems with conservatives is the myth of the individual, the idea that somehow we are all independent and don't owe any debt to one another. In fact, everything that happens to anyone in effects everyone. Turning your back on your fellow Americans coarsens our society, straining the bonds that should hold us together. No one is an independent actor.

    They also fail to admit the benefits that they do receive. Remember that, in general, the "red" parts of the country are net consumers of tax dollars, the "blue" net donors. My favorite quote is the elderly man who, in opposing universal health insurance, announced "Keep the government out of my Medicare!" We are all drawing benefits from our social structure. We needn't cater to everyone's every whim, but in ignoring the plight of others we risk losing everything.

    January 25, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  17. lovable liberal

    Another conservative fan of poverty! What a maroon.

    January 25, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  18. CJ, Richmond, VA

    DAVE C in NJ and all others who complain about those nasty loan sharks: No on put a gun to your head to make you sign that loan agreement. Sure these lending agencies are rascals, but you need to know who you're dealing with, and you need to take responsibility for YOUR actions.

    January 25, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  19. Arkay, MI

    "'m sorry to say this, but older people have way too much influence on the political proces, mostly because they have the luxury of having time to participate.I don't like 80 year olds deciding what is best for a the country."

    Oh really, do you get to choose who should and who shouldn't decide the fate of this nation? Did someone stop you from particpating in the political proces(sic)? I am not going to be 80 for a long time but this attitude is deplorable.

    January 25, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  20. Big Brother 2008

    Just goes to show you that what being an old Republican and still greedy for more money can do for YOU.

    January 25, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  21. Amy in Iowa

    Obama is the candidate for everyone. He transcends race and party lines.
    He got a majority of votes in Iowa so stop with the baiting. Obama is also both White and Black, or have you not heard? So to the guy who keeps posting about race, stop trying to paint him as the black candidate….he is the PEOPLE'S CANDIDATE. He is America's candidate: Obama '08

    January 25, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  22. Betty

    For all of you saying that this Lester guy makes sense or that he should run for President - there's already a candidate out there for you!

    Ron Paul echoes this guy's sentiments - personal responsibility, living within our means as a path to a stable economy and NEVER depending on the government to bail us out. Paul studied the economy for years before entering politics - he's not power hungry like the other wackos, he actually knows how to fix things!

    For whatever the reason, the media's been fairly effectively ignoring Dr. Paul. But research on Paul is within easy reach with Google; please take a look and help bring COMMON SENSE back to our nation!

    January 25, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  23. Dave C - NJ

    By the way, folks, mortgages scenarios are case-by-case.

    The right wingers keep repeating this idea that there are legions of people driving around in Hummers with iPods and not paying their mortgages.

    It's easy to mouth off on a board, but I doubt most of you are that callous in real life.

    Edwards 08!

    January 25, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  24. Duncan, Richmond, VA

    Lori, If you really think that Obama is any different from Clinton, then you have done very little research and are ignorant about politicians.

    January 25, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  25. Milton, Harrisburg, PA

    There's a flip side to lowering the interest rate to help out the subprime mortgage fiasco. This means that Americans that are putting money away in savings (because they actually bought a house they could afford and drive an old car) get less interest on their dollar. We punish Americans that try to save to help out the ones that are in over their heads. Live within your means.

    January 25, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
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