Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Monkey See, Monkey Do Economy....

This is (apologetically) long but important, so pay attention, unless of course I'm just *Preaching To The Choir*.

It seems like everyone wants a quick, easy *fix* to what our country is currently going through and that's just not going to happen. People need to get over that idea. When trying to fix a broken economy it will be necessary for all of us to tighten our belts and sacrifice certain things in our lives. This means the Congress as well. Both Democrats and Republicans. I haven't noticed any of our representatives politicians (they certainly do nothing to represent me or my family) in Washington reducing their spending in D.C. or at home. I don't see any of them living with less, do you? Have you seen them ask for a reduction in their pay because times are hard? Nope. Me either.

If this is ever going to get sorted out and headed in a positive direction, then Congress, the Senate and The House of Reps (along with everyone else who is part of The Washington Machine), need to set better examples for *their people* (that would supposedly be us). Sure. Like that's going to happen. It's like a parent telling their child "Don't do as I do. Do as I say." I always hated that cliche as a child and still do.

Frankly, I'm totally enraged about having to help irresponsible people with their mortgages or anything else. We have seldom spent beyond our means, we've watched our nickels & dimes, remained frugal and more. We've put one child through college with no help from the government and we're in the middle of helping put our son through college, with a bit of help from foundations that grant scholarships. We obey the laws, pay our taxes, stay involved in the community, pay our bills on time, and always try to be the best citizens that we can be. So, yes, it infuriates me that I have to help pay for those who don't watch their expenses as we do. It's reminiscent of indigent health care in this country. We've paid out the Wazoo for that travesty, many times over, which has thus resulted in even more hikes in insurance premiums. To. Us. Not. The. Indigents.

This has become a country of such pathetic whiners. To me, it seems like far too many Americans are wasting their time whining and blaming others instead of channeling all that energy into something… Ummm… positive! Quit charging so damn much on your credit cards and learn to live with what you can afford. Examples: Do your kids really need $150.00 tennis shoes when you live in an apartment? $300.00 bicycles? Wake up and get a clue. And, brand new cars for teenagers who just learned to drive?? Do you really need to drive a brand new luxury car when you live in a rented shack? Do you really need to get food so fast that you could care less about nutrition? And then, do you really need to *Supersize* it? I could go on forever. The excesses in this country have clearly been out of control for quite some time. Something we are just beginning to learn, many other countries learned long ago. Excesses in one's life or one's country is not the most desirable way to live. This is where "The Great American Dream" begins to unravel. I think China and India have that privilege now. They certainly have better public education systems, but I'd rather die than live in either of those places. Thank you anyway.

You know, I've always teased Mr. Snoots about being so tight that I have to oil him twice a week to keep him from squeaking. The truth is, he's one of the most intelligent, savvy men I've ever known, often to the point of total irritation. He's frugal for a reason. He has grown up in and lived in a world where your livelihood can turn on a dime… the oil patch of West Texas. We both have fears of being broke for different reasons. I grew up living like that and never want to go back there. He grew up with everything and the idea of losing it scares the holy crap out of him. However, that still puts us on the same page, which definitely works for us.

There is no definitive answer and no easy fix for the problems we have here in America, but a good place to start would be to quit whining, tighten your belts, cut up the credit cards, and learn to live with what you can afford. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Apparently, most people wouldn't agree. Not spending doesn't jive with living "The American Dream", does it? In my opinion, it's the Great American Way. See The World. Go Into Debt. The media says there's an upturn in the economy and we begin to spend. The media says there's a downturn in the economy and Screeech! We begin to spend? Wrong, wrong, wrong! Sometimes I wonder what possesses people. The next thing you can do is quit voting the same, tired *Good Old Boys* into Congress, The Senate or The House. They are the ones sleeping with the lobbyists and making our lives a living hell so that they can achieve the goals of those they are paid to do this for. It should be illegal, but it's not.

I understand the banks were just greedy, as always. I understand the auto industry was writing checks with money they didn't have and they still want more. Huh? I'm not sure why, but we allow Wall Street to predict our lives and the way we live. We should all be rising into an uproar over it, but we just passively watch the news & shake our heads. The politicians shake their heads & say they don't know what the solution is. Okay, so why the Hell are they up there representing us if they don't know what the solution is? Not knowing the solution is our job (you know… we, the people). Their job is to figure it the hell out and make changes that will make a difference and quit jockeying for position like it's the Miss America contest. This is our country & our lives we're talking about here. Why is no one listening? President Obama cannot make any progress in his quest without the help of the entire country and yet, the Great Machine in Washington cranks away smoothly, just as it always has, without regard for its real people.

However, there is a whole Domino Effect to this economy crisis. You're seeing it right now. When we, the people decide to start cutting back, jobs are lost and when jobs are lost, people tighten their budgets even more. Which leads to even more jobs lost… The Domino Effect. There are more company/factory closings, lay-offs of all kinds, airlines in trouble, bankruptcies, foreclosures, bailouts, etc. than I have ever before witnessed in my 56 years. There is no one person or any particular party to blame. It's time to cease complaining and start changing. And God Forbid China or India should lose any of the American jobs so that American companies can make a wide margin of profit. Right? And, God forbid China from continuing to finance our debt. Do you have any idea how much money we owe to China? It's so *off the charts* that it's totally mind boggling. Think somewhere in the range of $772,000,000,000.00. In case you can't count that high, it is 772 BILLION DOLLARS as of May 2009. WTF is wrong with this picture?

A few years ago (okay perhaps 8) I learned a lot by reading the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki. He makes an amazing amount of sense with his financial strategies, which most Americans would do well to adhere to, or at least try. When you're broke or almost there, you severely cut back spending, right? Easier said than done when the cost of housing has gone through the roof along with everything else we've become so addicted to in this country.

"If you want to be rich you need to learn to think like the rich, learn what the rich know and most importantly do what the rich do. The rich teach their children how to convert earned income into either passive income or portfolio income that will provide the cash flow to live the life they want to live.

To become rich you need to first change the way you think about money because your thoughts lead to your actions that lead to results. If you were raised poor or middle-class, chances are that you were not taught the fundamentals you need to become financially free for life. By having a personal coach, you can take these principles and quickly apply them in your life. You’ll have the feedback and encouragement you need to get out of the Rat Race—just like my rich dad did for me."

—Robert Kiyosaki Personally, I highly recommend this book for everyone, although putting any of his ideas into use in this economy would be a futile effort. I even recommend it to our new President, Mr. Obama.

One of Mr. Kiyosaki's first lessons is that you NEVER buy a brand new car until you've made your first million bucks. Why? Because it is STUPID STOOPID to go into such debt before you can afford it! Have one and only one credit card and pay it off every month. If you can't do that, then don't use them. And yet, the lower & middle classes ultimately struggle to achieve what this man teaches, without this knowledge, buying luxury items they can't afford, resulting in bankruptcy and more. More than half of the homeless people in this country got there because of a number of things like bankruptcy, mortgages & business loans they couldn't afford, cars they couldn't afford, and the list goes on. Example? Buying a brand new car before you have paid off your college loan, or your business loan, or whatever. You get the drift. Wake up call anyone?

Another issue that sends people into debt is the health care industry. Frankly, I don't even want to get started on that. I'd say that health care and the education of our children would be excellent places to start when talking about change in America. How about weeding out all the teachers (young or old) that don't like kids at all? What a crazy thought that is!

The majority of this country needs to go on more than one diet and that means even those who worship the Almighty Buck. Sadly, it always seems to be us, the common people (middle class), who pay the biggest price. I'm sick of that crap. Let's hold the politicians and lobbyists accountable for once. You know that if everyone demanded it, they would have to give it to us. No false promises. They would have to do it. So, why can't the people of this country come together as one and demand that government be held accountable? Are we sheep or what? They hold us accountable, don't they? It's time to turn the tables on The Washington Machine, people!

We are the people who vote Congress into office, right? Is the apathy in this country so rampant that we just sit back and allow ourselves to continually get *worked* by the very people we voted into office to be the sound of our voices? Does anyone else feel like we're being spoken to out of one side of one side of their mouths while they speak to the *Washington Machine* out the other side of their mouths?

With an interest rate that reflects those back in the Dark Ages, I'm thinking of burying money in the mattress or the backyard, so to speak. Quite honestly, I'd rather earn no interest at all than lose what we've worked so hard to save up. I'm beginning to fear for our future, because it isn't looking very bright from where I stand. Next thing you know, banks will be CHARGING us to use our money, instead of ridiculously low interest rates being paid.

I'll admit that Congress and the lobbyists aren't the only problem, but they certainly represent a major portion of the forces working against US (you & I), the people. Unfortunately, there are too many people wasting time on trying to blame this person or that party or the next, which is equivalent to taking one step forward and then taking ten steps back. This problem is bipartisan. Until everyone in this country doing the blaming decides to stop wasting time and energy on the negatives, then nothing will ever change. It really is just that simple. Instead of trying to blame one party or the other for our country's woes, it's time for all of us to realize that it is the well oiled Washington D. C. Machine that needs to lead us into this time of great change. If they cannot change (which is a laughable thought, really), then how can we be expected to?

Monkey See. Monkey Do.

And you know what? If you don't like what I have to say then you can kiss my lily white arse, because only idiots are allowed to kiss my arse..... Besides, I'll delete your comments if they are nasty anyway. Have a great day!


Treasia said...

Bravo! Bravo! to you Snooty. I couldn't agree more with everything you've said. Learn to live within your income of cash. Learn to save for what you truly want and pay it off completely. It will be much more appreciated and thought more of in the long run.

NanU said...

Bravo. I do agree with most everything you say. Well, except for being against providing minimal health care (and it really is minimal!) to people who can't afford it. Poor? Well, you can just die there in the gutter. I'm all for people taking responsibility for their lives and living within their means, but for many people it literally is a choice between health care and the rent. Between health care and eating. Between health care and buying some new clothes because showing up for a job interview in rags is just shooting yourself in the foot. So yes for financial responsibility but no to being inhuman.

Snooty Primadona said...

Nan: I flip-flop on the health care issues a lot but at least it's because I'm truly torn & not because some big pharmaceutical company is greasing my palms to take their side. There is just so much misinformation out there & it's often difficult to decide which side is telling the truth. I know many people who have struggled with paying for health care & who are having to borrow money from the bank just so they can pay their taxes, as a result. There's something wrong with that picture too. There's a lot of lopsided justice out there. I guess I gave the wrong message about health care. We do need it.... but not in the ridiculous package Congress is trying to shove down the throats of all Americans at the moment. It's also entirely possible that I've read too many Stephen King & science fiction books and let my imagination get away from me... It doesn't matter what I think. What matters is that someone steps up to the plate with something... anything better than what has so far been presented. And it should be a constantly changing industry, able to keep up with the rest of the world. A rigid, iron clad plan that isn't flexible is not a wise choice. That's my nickels worth. I won't argue about anything except that I don't think the government is capable of running anything on a flexible basis. I have to go to bed now...

Flea said...

I flip flop on health care too. I have a friend who's a self-employed writer. Her husband went back to school. Said friend had cancer more than 10 years ago and has been cancer free nearly that long. It's nearly impossible to get insurance. She's a strong conservative, but this issue's tough for her. She pays cash at doctor's offices, but they treat her like pond scum.

Otherwise, I'm right there with ya.

The Incredible Woody said...

Have I mentioned that I just love you, Snooty?!?

Sjn said...

I read the whole thing, even the comments. Thanks for writing.
Government just doesn't seem to get the debt issue. Now it's racist if we don't agree with the government's new health care plan.
Why aren't "we the people" allowed to think for ourselves, what is best for us. It's hard working Americans out there right now fighting against what we've been told we "have to hurry up and do". Let's slow down and fix what's wrong at the root of it.
I say "No more free passes and no more entitlement!"

NanU said...

Yep, solving health care is going to be very hard. It's going to take a big change and a radically different plan than what we have now. It's almost impossible to get people to let go of what they have for something that might be better but nobody can prove it. Not that this plan is what we need. I don't know. But any plan has got to help people in need. I went without insurance for years and won that bet. I have friends and family who lost it.

Anonymous said...

Well said! Brava! Okay, so we buy our expensive luxury cars new, but we drive them for ten years or more. And we pay CASH. No financing. Ever. We SAVE.

Socialized medicine can't work in this country. Free healthcare is not free, just ask the Canadians.

We were recently in Sweden, long a poster child for utopian socialism, and even there they are sick of supporting people who don't want to work. They are fed up wth giving 75% or more of their income to taxes and they are trying to move to a more conservative economy.

Daryl said...

Well said. I think the best way to begin is to kick to the curb any congressman/woman or senator who doesnt get behind this and make it work. THEY all have excellent coverage and while they can/could go home for medical treatment, they all opt to go to Walter Reed or some other government health establishment because its FREE to them ... while they refuse to get on board something that could help the people who voted them in.

AND I personally am fed up paying taxes to cover medical treatment for those UNcovered American citizens ... the illegal immigrant issues aside.. who show up at the ER needing care ... sure the hospitals dont turn them away - 'first do no harm' means something.

NO ONE who is presently covered will lose their coverage.

I wish this was the one point that gets emphasized most because I believe its the one thing people are not understanding due to those lovely people at Fox 'News' especially their new wunderkind Glen Beck ... gah .. dont let get started on him

TSannie said...

Stop all the damn Democrat/Republican bickering. For once, work TOGETHER! We've needed that for a long time and now more than ever. And all they do is name call and bicker - and nothing gets done. Both parties are guilty of that.

Well written words, Ms. Snooty.

Allison said...

Ms Snoots, great minds...I was just thinking the other day about writing about this. I'm starting to get hopeless about our ability to address these tangly issues. Our political system is broken, just like health care and education. All those politicians are out for 2 things: to score points for their political party at the expense of the other AND at OUR expense, and to further their own political career.

Tall Slow TAlkin' Texas is a rabid Republican and most of my friends are way to the left so I get to hear it all. I don't mind helping people get a leg up, I'm not as hard core as TSTT, BUT, when we save people (ourselves and our kids included) from the consequences of our choices, we do no favors. We have forgotten that along with choices we also have responsibilities for taking care of our business. People just do NOT take responsibility for what they do whether it's eating fast food, running a hedge fund, or having more kids than you can financially support, it's at all levels!

If you are getting help from us the taxpayer, they you need to have skin in the need to be in school getting your GRE, submitting to regulation of your crooked industry, or whatever it may be. People learn to make better choices from suffering consequences and from learning skills for how to make better choices. If you're not willing to put that effort out is hard for those unwilling to learn from their mistakes.

RE: health care...OMG. That's a MESS. I've been on all sides of that one. Great article though to read about a big part of the problem and what can be done from The New YOrker: Having been married to a physician I know this article is making a valid point AND the author is a cardiologist.

Ugh, I just don't know what to do with it all, it's very discouraging.

Anonymous said...

Some healthcare facts:
One person dies every 12 minutes because of inadequate health coverage.
The average cost to study to be a doctor in England costs you less than $45K so doctors don't have to try and make a fortune to pay back their loans after they qualify.
My husband and I were in the highest tax bracket. We both lost our jobs in the same week. If it weren't for the 65% COBRA subsidy, we would be paying $959 a month for healthcare. Scratch that, we would have no healthcare.

One way of seeing the mortgage crisis:
1) the government started to guarantee loans
2) Michael Milken realized that these were safe, govt backed assets and started to buy them off small lenders and package them up as tradeable assets
3) Loan providers outsourced sales, and started incentivising sales people to grant Sub Prime mortgages - lending to people who couldn't afford it and, crucially, making people who couldn't afford a mortgage *think* they could
4) The link between the actual mortgage and the person paying it off became very complex to follow because mortgages were packaged and sold by traders. Individual bank managers could not counsel individuals and give them payment plans, etc. they just had to foreclose
5) Once foreclosures started, the market lost confidence and everyone started jumping ship
6) Over a year after closing Lehmans in London, Price Waterhouse accountants are still trying to unravel complicated financial instruments to settle who owes what to who.

A person who is duped and exploited in a meeting about a mortgage is not necessarily an evil or irresponsible person. They are also not responsible for the fact that their mortgage was packaged and sold by the institution they got it from, so they were not able to work out a plan with them when times got hard.

Some people got a low start mortgage 2 points below the rate, then the mortgage would spike after the low start period. People could go from having a 3% mortgage to a 6$ mortgage - a double in payments. The people who had the worst credit were exploited and given the worst deals - it's just like a pre-pay cellphone. Your calls cost you WAY more per minute than if you qualify to get a monthly contract.

I am sure not every person who is in trouble with their mortgage is a no-good, lazy bum. It's statistically impossible.

In the case of both healthcare and financial assistance, helping others, in the end, is helping yourself. The person who is assisted and given an education doesn't become the criminal that robs you. The child who isn't evicted from their home and manages to stay in school may become the doctor who saves your grandchild when they have a car accident

We are all part of society and if society is doing well, we are all doing well.

And it is also a matter of ethics.

We must take care of each other.

Heather said...

As usual you make some great points Snooty. Unfortunately, I do not have all the answers.

I do want to make one point. There are thousands and thousands of well-educated, well-meaning folks who go to Washington to truly try to make a difference. I'm not talking about politicians per se, but all the hard working (and massively underpaid) staff that work for them. I speak from experience. I was one of them as was Hubbie.

I quickly left the gov't for private sector because I simply couldn't afford to live off a $13,000 salary from a Senator. I also refused to ask my parents to supplement my income. They did enough all ready.

To make matters more interesting, Hubbie spent years in "public service." He was born with a VERY rare disease and tumor in his face. It was removed and has required countless surgeries to this very day. His "WONDERFUL" government insurance covered almost nothing of these surgeries because they were deemed "cosmetic." And we are talking BIG bucks for these procedures.

Forget the fact that his face would collapse on itself if he didn't have some of these surgeries or the fact that his disease could have become cancerous if left untreated.

OK I'm done now. I just wanted to point out that there are some good folks in government who really want to make things better.

Change MUST be bipartisan and it MUST address government waste.

Until next time.....

Snooty Primadona said...

I am so tired of hearing Republicans & Democrats blaming each other for everything. It should have NOTHING to do with politics in any way and everything to do with basic human decency & compassion for one's fellow man (or woman).

I think it's interesting that CNN and FOX have both now taken *sides*. So much for fair & unbiased reporting, huh? No change there. Also, the media works hard at fueling the flames, which further convinces me that the media are not to be trusted. None of them, so they are useless to us & always will be unless some network has an epiphany & decides they should report straight news, as it is, without a slant.


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