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

Real People, Real Issues: Personal Responsibility

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/25/art.preston1.cnn.jpg caption="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. ric-indy


    January 25, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  2. Hello

    The CNN moderator is not really doing their job with some of these comments.

    Degrading... 🙁

    January 25, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  3. Hello

    What's destroying this country economically is not that the hand of government is not taking care of us, but that we are enslaved to debt personally and nationally.

    Time to write out a budget and live within our means.

    January 25, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  4. Tom

    Typically I would feel that the burden should fall solely on the individual. However the subprime mortgage problem was the responsibility of the federal government, the lenders, and also the individuals. The federal government loosened their own restrictions in regards to lending practices, many lenders loosened their guidelines in regards to the debt to income ratio, and individuals did not do the necessary research or even take the time to save up before buying a house.

    This country was founded on personal accountability and it is about time that the people got reminded of that and the federal government needs to go back to working within the confines of the Constitution according to the true interpretation of it and not according to the re-interpretation that has taken place in current day.

    January 26, 2008 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  5. Walt, Belton, TX

    Lester Gilbert for President! No saves from Uncle Sam to keep his loan company in business; you get what you pay for and if you're dumb about it you lose. That's life!!!! But OH NO, not when it is big business taking losses, then BOTH parties can't wait to bail out THEIR personal benefactors! What a crock!!!!!

    January 26, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  6. W.D.Russell, East Liverpool, Ohio

    The perfect neo-conservative.
    I got mine, screw you.

    January 26, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  7. Dave, Atlanta, GA

    If only it were that simple. The tax dollars are not being used to bail out homeowners, they are being used to bail out the economy. Even as this man complains he is entitled to the tax rebate too. And he benefits in more ways than one. If the economy goes into recession, it doesn't just hurt the people in debt it hurts us all. It hurts me because I might get laid off from my job.

    He is the last person who should be complaining. The man delivers RVs for a living. RVs are a luxury good, and most of them are bought with credit. If there is a credit crisis, and the economy tanks this man might lose his job. But he wants to gripe over $600 tax rebates?

    January 26, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  8. Edward Carnegie

    Speaking about back to basics let politicians stop paying lip service to the constitution and bill of rights.They get away with this because the american people don't read it ,understand it or just plain don't know how to read. Many Americans do not want to think so politicians can get away with 30 second sound bytes and greased backed hairdos. It's attention span and attention deficit dysfunction wrapped up in one neat little package called an uninformed/underinformed voter.

    January 26, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  9. Will

    Why should wall st have to suffer because people take out loans they cannot afford? This stimulus? Most of the American "sheeple" would spend it on Chinese goods, strengthen their dollar, and weaken ours. Hats off to you if it goes into your savings for 20 years. Buy an SUV? Fine.

    January 26, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  10. Joe In Virginia

    Hooray for Mr. Gilbert. I could not have said it better. Why should Mr. Gilbert and I help bailout the greedy. These people are as much crooks as Enron, Milken, and now Kerviel in France. The homebuyers and banks that want it all and want it now have caused a panic that is reflected in world markets. Failure to consider the ability to make monthly payments and collect on mortgages when interest rates increase has cost me and many others in terms of personal wealth. Let the parties responsible work it out on their own. If they can't, let them go under. I nearly vomited when Hillary Clinton said on "Meet The Press" that we are all responsible for the mortgage mess.

    Additionally, I wish the government and media would stop calling the proposed $150 billion stimulus package a rebate. It is a socialist redistribution of my and other people's wealth as long as a dime goes to anyone that did not pay taxes or paid less than they could receive via the proposed distribution rules. It's only a rebate if you receive less than what you paid in.

    January 26, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
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