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Nov-22-2007 21:18printcomments

America's Debt Ridden Society

Parents and schools need to teach thrift and savings as respected and desirable values. They need to show how this benefits not only the country but the individuals as well.

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(SALEM, Ore.) - Our country is a mess. Right here in Salem, Oregon, but elsewhere as well. Yes a large part is the ever widening gap between the rich (the haves) and the poor (the have-nots) and the ever shrinking middle class, but what is something individuals are doing that is as destructive?

Spending every penny they have (and can borrow) like there is no tomorrow. That's what!

EZ Pay plans, refinancing homes every three months to constantly squeeze every penny out of equity as if equity is a bad word, etc. This lack of self discipline and patience, saving up for what you want when you can afford it instead of overextending yourself now, seems to be the rule today.

And this is causing bankruptcies to skyrocket. This is not a good thing. What happened to saving? That is in large part what helped this country be great in the 1940s-1960s. Then the 1980s came along with Reaganomics (aka "How to Bankrupt the USA Without Really Trying") and it was all thrown out the window. The attitude then was that to help the economy all you had to do was nothing but SPEND,SPEND,SPEND,SPEND,SPEND regardless of whether you could afford to or not!

So what if you live your life one paycheck from financial ruin? You NEED it NOW! Right? Be patriotic! Debt is Good! Solvency is Evil! Or so the rhetoric seems to go.

It its nothing short of institutionalized irresponsibility. It is self-destructive and it puts our national security at risk since most of those debts are being bought up by foreign powers like China. As if our trade deficit with them was not bad enough!

In short it is just plain moronic.

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People need to look at what they are actually paying with EZ Pay plans vs just saving up. Often they pay 3-5 times as much for the same thing, or more! Isn't that just the smartest way for consumers to go?

Parents and schools need to teach thrift and savings as respected and desirable values. They need to show how this benefits not only the country but the individuals as well.

If interest was being MADE in savings instead of SPENT in EZ Pay plans, credit cards and refinances people would be getting more financially secure instead of less so.

But the average consumer is so blinded by the shiny big screen TV or diamond ring with Madison Avenue screaming in their ear to BUY BUY BUY that obviously they cannot think clearly and make reasoned and responsible decisions.

This trend needs to turn around or the term 'wage slave' will take on new meaning as consumers have their backs broken under the weight of their debts before they can even manage to pay for real needs like food, utilities, clothing, housing etc.

Madison Avenue needs to stop LYING to people making it sound like the only way you can get what you want is to go into debt for it... when you can always just save up for it.

And constantly refinancing your home means you will NEVER have it paid for as well as totally screwing you if the real estate market takes a downturn and your home becomes worth less than you owe on it.

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Henry Ruark November 26, 2007 5:21 am (Pacific time)

I-Sug et al: Re-reading yours prompts me to point to the very large progress made in many areas where these primal instincts you mention from Darwin have, indeed, been altered and continue to change. Otherwise our

Henry Ruark November 25, 2007 5:13 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Values, in Neal's version, are all too well shaped by heavyduty sales-dollars propaganda perpetrated knowingly by corporate marketers and ad-channel agencies for more than 50 years --starting with full knowledge and intention so to do. Consequences are thus almost inescapable, demanding still further solid, strong will and devotion from all concerned to escape. Full documentation demands books (note plural !) of which there are many, and continuing research by cognitive and communications scientists, sociologists and even some few educatons. Per all Op Eds here, PDFs in depth available on request and ID to editor...and watch for upcoming Op Eds re corporate continuing influence in depth.

Neal Feldman November 25, 2007 3:35 am (Pacific time)

Sammi - well darling daughter of mine if I am a dork you have those genes too. lol. But you know I'm very proud of you. Ah well...

Neal Feldman November 24, 2007 1:38 pm (Pacific time)

ifuggest - My point is that thrift and savings DO promote the individual's fitness as you commented re: Darwin. It just seems counter intuitive but really is not. Thrift and savings while puttng off immediate desires do help the person in the long run. Saving money by making interest instead of paying it, many times as you wait to save for something you realize you really did not need or want it after all so there is more savings, plus the lessening of stresss in life that comes from not being so overextended. Having an extra $200 in the checking acct that the register does not show saves a ton of money in NSF charges that occur with minor math errors in the register tally and so on. Not needing to do expensive payday loans because you actually have 6 months income in the savings acct and so on. To the terminally shortsighted there is no benefit to what I am saying. To the intelligent long term thinker the benefits are obvious. Ah well...

Sammi November 24, 2007 1:33 pm (Pacific time)

I did not complain, I was never much of a material girl. I never liked know that. Dork.

isuggest November 24, 2007 12:01 pm (Pacific time)

While savings are important in a macro economic sense, there are other more important factors which are affecting the relative position of this country in the world economy. For one thing, there is a world economy now which did not exist 50 years ago. This country, which used to dominate, is now just another player. The occupation of Iraq and the "free trade" sellouts to large corporate interests are critical factors in the post industrial/technological era. It always disturbs me when, in the course of social criticism, the commentator speaks so harshly about personal behavior. People behave, as Darwin says, to promote their own fitness. To imagine that these primal tendencies can or should be altered is naive - and it also provides rationalizations for the administrators and politicians to excuse their own failures and misdeeds.

Neal Feldman November 24, 2007 8:46 am (Pacific time)

Sammi - Love ya too daughter. What I get raising computer literate kids. Told ya when you were younger and pissed off you would understand someday. lol. Ah well...

Sammi November 24, 2007 2:45 am (Pacific time)

hahaha...I did learn from the best. Love ya daddy

Carla November 23, 2007 10:25 pm (Pacific time)

Neal, if I (and possibly you) weren't already married, I'd marry you. A real man, in the age of sissified males is, also, a rarity. Glad to know that you're out there.

Neal Feldman November 23, 2007 2:27 pm (Pacific time)

Carla - from your description yes you are too much a rarity. Such as myself. I have only one debt (other than monthly utility bills that are paid each month when due) and that is my mortgage that I do not refinance. I have no credit cards nor lines of credit at the bank, at ant stores, etc. I agree the kids learn from the parents and the parents buy into the madison avenue crap so the kids do. madison avenue says both parents must work to be sufficient consumers so like you say kids are dumped at day care. Rather than give their kids quality time which costs nothing parents these days compensate for their desertion with STUFF which just drives them further into debt. News flash parents... stuff does not equal love and love does not equal stuff. Stuff is nice but it is not an adequate replacement for love, time and actual undivided attention. Some folks will never get this. Ah well...

Neal Feldman November 23, 2007 2:22 pm (Pacific time)

nicki - I am not trying to speak of 'values' in the terms you are trying... a one size fits all all encompassing set of behaviors and traits (I will presume from your rant judeo-christian based) but instead on the tertm values as in a single behavior to be valued, epitomized, emulated etc. Speaking of thrift and savings specifically as the values being discussed Not sex, not prayer in school, just limited in the discussion to these two values. Can you stick to those values, the context of the discussion, please without trying to degenerate the discussion into just more culture wars twaddle? Why is it that some folks think they have hijacked any use of the term values? Ah well...

Carla November 23, 2007 9:26 am (Pacific time)

I'm a long-time high school teacher, and I'll tell you what I'm seeing. It's not the kids, it's the parents who've dropped the ball. Divorcing, abandoning their kids to daycare, being irresponsible role models, and than ripping on kids isn't the way to go. My husband and I have zero debt, and live almost too frugally. I guess, sadly, we're a rarity, but at least we're passing these values on to our daughter, and I'm trying to pass good values on to my students, too.

nicki November 23, 2007 4:27 am (Pacific time)

I like the term "values". What values? The American People have no values anymore. Just have a good look at our kids today. Values, discipline, respect - these are all words of the past. Unless the people start turning around their lives, not much is going to happen. Lets start in our schools, teach the kids some values and not how to protect yourself when you have sex if you're 10 or 11 years old. Stop being so political correct and teach kids what life is all about. But hey, look around, we expect our Government to take care of us. We don't take responsibility for our actions. Just have a good look at all these darn law suits out there. Change better come quick or there is no hope for our State and Country.

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