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Borrowed Money

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Borrowed Money by Yvona Fast

 "I can calculate the movement of the stars, but not the madness of men."--Sir Isaac Newton, after losing a fortune in the South Sea bubble

Our grandparents were the product of the depression. They were thrifty, and never bought more than they needed. Many could calculate a grocery bill to the penny. 70 years ago, few people had mortgages.

But times have changed. While John McCain worries about taxing our savings, few Americans today have any savings at all. Most of the ordinary folks I know are in debt up to their ears--not just mortgages but car loans, college debt and credit cards.

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While shopping at the supermarket, I observed a mother with her child. The kid wanted something. The mother said, "sorry I don't have the money." The 3 year old retorted, "Charge it, silly!"

We're encouraged to spend and buy, because it drives the economy. Yesterday's luxuries have become today's necessities. Fifty years ago, we had the family car. Now each individual has their personal automobile. We equate happiness to how much we possess: a big house, expensive cars and fancy clothes. We want it but we can't afford it, so we get it anyway - on credit.

Our economy is based on growth and on an endless quest for more - and driven by credit. It is not doing well if people are buying less. Corporate advertising creates an insatiable appetite for additional stuff. A poster I once saw sums it up. It read: "Prosperity: To spend money you didn't earn, to buy things you don't need, to impress people you don't like."

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It is the same for corporations. Loans are integral not just to starting a business, but to keeping it going. We are no longer individuals; we are consumers and corporations. The current financial crisis is enmeshed in the credit industry. The President warned that it will "be more difficult to get the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college."

And our government follows a similar path. The past administration paid off the federal deficit, but in just 8 years the current one has built it back up to 400 billion dollars... and now they want to bail out the investment banks with 700 billion more? Where are they getting this money? What happens when China and other nations call our loans?

They're expecting the taxpayers to spend billions, maybe trillions, of dollars to rescue giant finance corporations. But it was the financial institutions, not the taxpayers, whose insatiable greed and uncontrolled borrowing caused the problem in the first place.

The message? Companies matter - people don't. Just a fraction of that budget could buy health care for every American or purchase infrastructure in solar and wind power that would eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.

Socialization of the finance and securities industry is good. But socialized medicine? That's bad. It would cost so much.

Corporate welfare is good. Individual welfare? Work harder, pull yourself up by your bootstraps. And if you can't afford boots, that's your problem; deal with it.

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Bankers created the mess - now they want the taxpayers to rescue them. Companies make immoral, irresponsible financial decisions in the name of free enterprise and capitalism. When things turn sour, they ask the government to step in and pick up the tab.

It seems that free enterprise is only good when profits are rolling in. When bad decisions based on rampant greed and poor money management are made, corporate giants cry uncle and steal from the taxpayers. And that's not socialism? Financial analyst Jim Rogers called the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac "welfare for the rich."-

We need change. Our culture runs on greed and irresponsibility. Corporations seek gain and profit at any cost, at the expense of innocent citizens. What has happened to values like integrity, truthfulness, hard work, kindness and frugality? What about living within our means, rather than on borrowed money?

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Yvona Fast is an author, freelance writer, food columnist, editor, researcher and speaker. Her first book is a career guide for individuals with Asperger Syndrome or Non-Verbal Learning disability. She is currently working on her second book, My (more...)
 

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