There’s an e-mail making its way around the Internet calling attention to a piece purportedly written by syndicated columnist Charlie Reese that talks about the 545 people ultimately responsible for all of the woes currently being suffered by taxpayers in the United States. It turns out, according to this e-mail, that one hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president, and nine Supreme Court justices are “directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.” Well, that sure eases my mind. To know that only 545 people out of some 300 million Americans are the culprits behind all our woes is great news. You see, previous to this Eureka moment, I was scratching my head, looking around at the financial mess this country is in and asking myself, “Was it me?” I mean, I could have learned a bit more about the market before I took that stock broker’s advice. I could have learned more about the company we trusted to invest my family’s 401K. I could have read up on the backgrounds of any of the politicians I voted for during any of the last 10 elections or so. I could have read the fine print on the HELOC my mortgage broker sold me to get me to 100% LTV so I wouldn’t have to put any money down on my mortgage, and found out about how quickly the interest rate would be jacked up. I could have put off a few purchases before my credit card companies jacked me up to the legal interest rate limit because my neighbor was late on his payment. I’ve been thinking lately that there are a lot of things I could have done that might have made the impact of this downturn a little less painful for me and my family. But now that I’ve got this e-mail, I can rest easy in the fact that I can do what millions of other un- or under-educated Americans around the country are doing and blame it all on the government. Sure, all but 9 of the 545 were elected by us voters, many of whom cast their vote for pork barrel promises and staunch support of socialistic welfare programs. Others fell prey to clever television ads or just voted along their party lines, with red for good and blue for bad. Or is it red for bad? I forget. And that’s the point of e-mails like this. They offer us someone to burn at the stake, get us fired up about all the taxes we’re paying—without reminding us that they’re funding things that we asked for—and give us the opportunity to forget that it was, at least in part, our fault. Then they usually tell us what they’re selling. In politics, it’s almost always change. Politics start with the promise of change but is driven by the willingness of the American public to forget. No one wants to remember the mistakes they’ve made, the many times they were duped into making a bad trade by a clever salesman. Arguments like that presented in this e-mail give us the opportunity to forget that this is our fault at the same time it gets us mad enough to vote for a change. On the other hand, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if Americans got mad. I mean really fired up about the sorry state of affairs they see around them. Maybe some of them would get so angry that they actually crack a book and learn something. Or write one and put forward a real solution. That’s a future I’d like to see. Americans getting better educated on what makes our system work so they can stand up intelligently and work for solutions instead of just huddling up with their friends on Facebook and chanting, “Burn it down!” But then, I’m not in the business of selling ideas that would only work for someone who believed in the concept of personal responsibility, not when there are reportedly only 545 people in the prospect universe. I think I’d rather be a mortgage broker, or an appraiser even. Next week: I’ll share an e-mail from someone who might really have a solution the mortgage industry could use.