Allow me to say, at the very least, that this article I wrote was written the month before we officially went into recession. I suppose my intuition was true.
November 05, 2007
I have a very strong intuition. I don't know why. Maybe it's all the news about the markets and housing. Maybe it's all the spending on the wars. Maybe it's because the dollar is dying slowly. Maybe it's because Americans save NEGATIVE money. That means, Americans SPEND more than they make. I have been growing more and more concerned as time goes on.
I know I'm just a filmmaker, and I don't know much about the economy in reality, but for some reason I have a very strong intuition that something big and bad is coming. Although, I feel that if people my age (I'm 26), would be a little wiser about their finances, then America could be saved. I think the dollar is a promise. The dollar is a promise of responsibility with finances; a guarantee that our government, which represents us, the People, will make good on all things we spend money on.
Personally, I don't think our current spending policies are sustainable. I have a feeling it's much like in physics, as you approach the speed of light, you start becoming infinitely massive, therefore much harder to move (learned that from Mr. Gelpke at Fairfield High). You can't expect to continue growing an economy so insanely fast and not have a time where it slows down massively. I call it feast and famine.
There will be times when we as Americans can feast, and Americans feast well, but there will be times when there will be famine. In all honesty, I don't know how well Americans would do with famine. For the most part, Americans my age seem to be very used to having everything they need almost at any time they want. Food, shelter, security, it seems to be a fairly common standard in America. Of course it's not true for everyone, but only a small percentage go without, and for those who lack food, shelter and security, it is usually only very temporary and not enough to kill them (as it is in other nations quite often).
Americans NEED to be wiser with money. It's so very important to the world in my opinion. If our economy tanks, then we are basically powerless in the world. And if America is no longer in power, then what is going to fill that vacuum? I don't really want to think about that. Personally, not that this will be the answer to everything in the world, but if people were wiser with their money, and had an attitude of humility about what they actually need in life, then much of the world would be better off. I have to admit, thinking about all this has definitely grown my respect for the generation who went through the Great Depression. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't the frugal attitudes of that generation that helped spark the post-war economic boom after WWII.
I know of several people, one of them being Pat Stonsby who lives in Fairfield, in her 70s, who still save and collect various containers, and who never throw away leftover food. I think part of me really respects that. I know that in my own life, it's been a very common thing to throw away food that I know I just spend a lot of money on because I couldn't finish it. Not to mention that I throw away bottles and cans all the time.
I think wisdom in finances is key for another reason too, and this might sound a little too scary to people, and maybe a little crazy to others. Personally, I think the rise of the credit score monster is a new and scary occurrence. New meaning, the last few decades. Since when does a three-digit number determine whether or not you can buy a house or not? What the crap is with that? Since when does someone keeping track of your financial reputation, whether it is accurate or not, matter so much? I don't think such surveillance ever existed before now. Since when can't we buy, sell or trade without this stupid mark...
To me, credit is another form of slavery. I call it "in-debt-ured" servants. We enter into a contract with a financial institution, at which point, we are forced to spend our money, which we receive in exchange for whatever work we do, on paying the financial institutions back. Essentially, we work to pay back what we owe financial institutions, and we don't have much choice. Why? Because everything is so expensive, and we don't have a choice but to copy everyone else and take on a bunch of debt in order to make a living. And if we don't pay, the credit demons will get you.
That's why we as Americans need to live within our means. We can't be so stupid. Frankly, it's shameful, and our own ridiculous ways will lead to our destruction if we don't start getting smart. We need to do what we can to save money while we can. I'm talking to myself to. As someone who has failed to save anything substantial, I need to do this just as bad as anyone else. But as a whole, Americans can't seem to hold onto money for long at all. This needs to change. We need to start living like money is actually worth something, and therefore, worth holding onto.
So, how do we live in a world of credit without using it? I don't know yet. I haven't been able to do that since I went to college in San Diego. I would love to find out, believe me. I love old used cars, and spending cash on anything feels great. I know it's not completely practical in this world, especially if you intend to buy a house, but I would love to learn how to operate in this world without credit. I would feel so free. I suppose I need to save as much money as I possibly can.
You never know when the next famine is going to hit.