We admire the determination of people who do not have debt. The Congress and Administration should be so wise. As a young parent we ventured into the world of credit cards. The result was that our children lived in virtual poverty. We had a good job and made good money – but the debt strapped us.
Our first awareness of managing debt was when we were twenty-two years old. Our first child was just born and we did not own a washing machine. Those were the transitional days between cloth diapers and disposable diapers – we used cloth. The local mall had a laundromat and we would go there every week. We would put the clothes in the washer and then window shop for forty-five minutes. We would return to the laundromat and switch the laundry to the dryers – then repeat the cycle.
We remember going to Sears and looking at washers and dryers – we had no money. We thought about it awhile – then one day we were at a garage sale and they had a Sears Kenmore Dryer for $55.00. We had that much. We bought the dryer and then went back to Sears. They agreed to set up an account for us and to sell us a wash machine ‘on payments.’ They charged something like six-thousand percent interest – but the payments were $12 a month. That was considerably cheaper than what we were spending per month at the laundromat. We contracted for our first debt.
We remember installing the washer and dryer and feeling like we actually owned something. We made the payments and we had convenience. Every time we made a payment we knocked on the wash machine – yep – there it is – we have something. (We finally paid off Sears last month, the wash machine cost $6,212, with interest.)
We have become a nation in debt. Both personal and public. When the economy slows the Federal Reserve gives it some false stimulation by lowering interest rates. There is only one reason for this – if people in America can’t borrow – they can’t buy. If they can’t buy then factories have no need to produce. Our world crashes down. Our economy is in a real predicament.
There is an old and incorrect axiom that if you need to stimulate the economy you just start a war. Wars do tend to have a short term impact on economic growth – the military/industrial complex is fed and it grows, creating jobs. Sounds good on the surface – but we are producing a product so we can blow it up, while we increase our debt. Rockets and bullets and armored vehicles are not consumer products. No one gets to wash their children’s diapers. No one gets to have the comfort of driving their own vehicle to work – we blow it up. When the next generation makes a payment they do not have a washing machine to look at and treasure as their own.
We get irritated when U. S. Senators and Congressmen, running for reelection, announce that they have just secured 800 bazillion dollars of ‘Federal Money” for roads in Missouri. They doe not bother to add, “And by the way, I put it on YOUR credit card!” What the hell, it was just ‘Federal Money’ anyway. Just another earmark.
The solution to our economic woes, both personal and public, is no debt. Individuals, young couples, have to step up to the plate and say, in clear and uncertain terms: “NO MORE DEBT!” It will only be then that our representatives in Washington D.C. will hear us – and follow the lead of responsible people.
We regularly expound a liberal message of helping others, of ‘social justice,’ as John Wesley might say. Now here we are saying that we should not have debt. Are these conflicting viewpoints?
No, they are not. Debt is equal to social injustice. Debt deprives us of discretionary spending. Debt wastes our hard earned money on belligerent interest rates.