By James Milstid
Where are we going?
If nothing else, the so-called “Occupy _______” (fill in the blank) protests have made some good grist for my thought process mill. While I understand the frustration of so many folks about their economic dire straits, I also understand that it’s a two-way street. The original two-way economy street was pretty orderly and equitable for all, but it’s been re-paved with greed over many years.
And why are we in this hand-basket?
In one direction, we Americans have determined that the road to the dream is paved with credit cards and loans. We’ve lived beyond our means for so long that it’s become the norm to be in debt up to our ears. Not that we shouldn’t strive to have a better life. It’s just that we are impatient. And we let the banks lull us into a false sense of security because of that impatience.
In another direction, the banks, being businesses, have taken advantage of our impatience. Credit card interest rates and penalties are obscene. The lending institutions have us over a barrel. And they keep offering us more credit. Low interest, sure… until one misses a payment. A few days late and that 9% interest suddenly turns into 26% interest. It’s in the small print, but who ever reads that? Now many banks are even starting to charge for debit card usage.
When the feds lowered the interest rates, it cut into the lending institutions’ profits. When that happened, the banks started offering loans to high-risk clients to make up for profit losses. We are seeing the results of that now with housing foreclosures, defaulted loans, and bankruptcy.
Some true direction please…
If someone were to offer some true direction and some real answers to our economic problems, I have a feeling that a grassroots movement like this could actually make some headway. As it is now, it’s not even a movement. It’s just a lot of unhappy folks venting… some justified, some not.
I haven’t answered the questions in my own mind yet. Sure, I’d love to be out of debt and live more comfortably. But I got myself there and I need to take responsibility to get myself out or be willing to suffer the consequences. I’m not looking for a big bailout. I made my bed and I’ll sleep in it. And I want banks and corporations to do the same.
Our economy is in dire straits for a number of pretty complex reasons. I applaud folks for becoming active and voicing their frustrations, but I’ve yet to see any clear cut opinions about equitable ways to fix it all.