Should Have. Could Have.

After public hearings, interviews, and a ton of document reviews, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission has released a new book called The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report.

Besides serving as a historical account, the book documents the commission’s findings on why our economy collapsed, whether or not this could have been prevented, and if government action helped or hindered the recovery.

You can download the conclusions for yourself. Apparently though, not all commission members agree on one: that the crisis could have been foreseen or avoided.

Since I have a weak aptitude for finance, I use a financial adviser. I simply can’t grasp the lingo or the concepts. I know nothing about synthetic securities or the consequences of short-term lending.

But even I could have seen this coming.

Every passenger in my car saw it coming each time we passed one of a hundred new housing developments filled with enormous homes. “Who’s buying these houses?” they’d cry. “Who can afford them?!” We all suspected the buyers were skating on thin financial ice. We all feared it would eventually cost us; we just didn’t know how.

I’ll never know which mansions are now standing empty because of predatory lending. However, I do know there are parents out there who care more about the size of their house than they do having dinner with the kids. I do know there are shoppers out there who buy things only to gain popularity. I do know there are storage units filled with purchases that never should have been made. I do know that you can’t get love or happiness from a bank, no matter how good your credit is.

BIGGER is NOT better. MORE is NOT greatest. LESS does NOT mean poor.

To me the question is not “should we have seen it coming?” It is “will we ever change?”