When my husband and I were first married we were broke. Out of pure necessity we lived on a budget commonly referred to as the envelope system. Personal Money Management expert, Dave Ramsey is a big proponent of this budgetary method.
The idea is that upon payday the individual puts cash into envelopes corresponding to bills, liabilities, donations and other needs. For our part mortgage always drew the largest chunk with debt and utilities grabbing their share next. We frequently found little left for food and gas while entertainment remained empty most months. When the money wasn’t there we stayed home or went surfing – in the ocean, not on the internet.
There is nothing really radical about what we did by living within our means, but it wasn’t always convenient. We turned down many dinner invitations and made due with one car. Often we had to forego buying gifts for friends, family and one another. Common sense dictated if there was no more money than there was no more spending. Whatever happened to pocketbook economics?
Sometime ago my husband and I convinced ourselves that we needed more, we deserved more, and we married the debt monster. It’s easy to do. I recall walking across my college campus and being bombarded by vendors with tempting credit card offers coupled with a free gift, but how many free koozies does one person need?
After the second credit card most college students can easily refuse the next koozie that is shoved in their face, but from what I can tell our government cannot and is packing a boatload of neoprene beer sleeves.
But the real low point isn’t the tunnel for turtles. It is the combination of all the ridiculous PACs lobbying for money from Uncle Sam. America’s downfall has been in providing these handouts so liberally and turning its back on the free market system.
As a small business owner I recognize that sometimes one does have to spend money to make money, and there is good debt, particularly when that debt is connected to assets.
But there is a point where the bank says no. At that point if spending has not already ceased, then it stops there. This reality may mean that some businesses fail, and that is okay. Failure causes us to pause, step back and reconsider our plan, and maybe it was a bad plan to start with.
The free market system is an extraordinary model for business. If a business can’t succeed in a capitalist society by meeting the needs of its community and clients it will fold. This is the most humane scenario. Propping up failing companies with the promise of a beer koozie is most often delaying the inevitable – someone is going to pay, and most recently it has been the American taxpayer.
The taxpayer has no more money to give this government, so I’ve pondered when America will simply declare bankruptcy and close the government down. Our largest creditor, China, is dumbfounded by our indiscriminate spending. Other nations are shaking their heads as well. During this financial meltdown I’ve wondered who decided it was a good idea to start borrowing from China, a communist country with whom we have a mottled trade history. How long will our creditors stand by and watch us slide down this slope of self-destruction?
You don’t have to be chairman of the Federal Reserve to understand that if there is more money going out than there is coming in you’ve got a problem. The current policies awaiting passage in Congress are not deficit neutral. They will in fact guarantee our government’s insolvency. We must be honest with ourselves. Our problem is not simply our debt; it is our inability to satiate our voracious appetites. We are no longer ashamed to search out our debt dealer in broad daylight to score the next fix; we are junkies who cannot see anything but our next high.
Therefore, we need an intervention conducted peacefully but confidently by citizens who have the courage to say no! We cannot rest until those who hold the purse strings acknowledge that we do have a problem. The first order of business is to send this message to our government, “Leave our pocketbooks alone! We as individual citizens are attempting to balance our own budgets, reduce our own debt, and exercise the restraint to say no. Now we’d like to ask you to do the same; so please just back away from the koozie.”