Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"It's the Econonmy, stupid...."

How did we get into this mess?
How did we become a debtor nation? How did being in debt become the norm?

First we became more materialistic. Television began to show us commercials of things we could not do without. Many families did not have the cash to pay for these “necessities” but stores offered “easy” credit. And we were off on the rocky road of own it now without saving for it. Remember the slogan “Fly Now, Pay Later.” That became the American mantra.

Consumer/materialism was ramped up with the “need” to have designer-everything. If your jeans didn’t say “Gloria Vanderbilt” on them, then you weren’t part of the “in crowd” – and every teen “needed” to be part of the in crowd, so parents gave in – more credit cards use.

Consumerism/materialism was great for this country as long as most products were made in this country. Buying products made in this country provided manufacturing jobs – usually high paying jobs. So the cycle was a good one…until…

Companies, in order to make more money, decided to outsource manufacturing jobs to other countries with cheaper labor.

Now our children could no longer have that good paying job in manufacturing. In order to have a job/profession that would give you a decent (non-MacDonald’s) wage, you needed to go to college.

However, college tuition increased to the point where a year’s tuition was more than most families’ yearly income. That was when we made it normal for our children to be debtors in order to have a college degree.

After they got out of college and high-paying jobs were not that plentiful, they still “needed” the big house and the two SUVs – that was what society was telling them meant success. So many of them signed for interest-only mortgages– after all they had watched the TV shows and commercials that showed them everything that was “needed” to be part if the “in crowd” - to be a real American success.

I am so glad I’m not part of the “in crowd” – I have what I need: my family, my cats, my friends, my books, my job.

And no credit card – even when the store says that I can get another 10% off if I apply. “No, thanks” is my favorite phrase.


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