The purpose of In The Trenches is to be a PERSONAL finance blog written for the general population to give real TOOLS to those striving to work through challenges faced in their own families. However, there are times when it is necessary to look at the bigger picture.
For more than three years now we have been in what is referred to as the American Economic Crisis. Most of us have felt the pinch in one way or another and I am confident that people who read this or other of the many wonderful financial blogs are taking the reasonable and responsible steps needed to correct past mistakes and forge ahead to a renewed state of stability.
I have tried to keep things from getting overly political believing that once we recognise and implement our PERSONAL needed strategies we will recognize and choose politicians who are moving in the right direction also. Long term politicians on both sides of the isle are shaking in their boots waiting to see how the American people will vote.
This weeks posts will lean more toward the soapbox side as I can no longer bear to let watch the freak show. At three years people are still scrambling to point the finger and pass the buck detracting from the huge amount of progress that could and should have been made already. So for a few minutes I will jump in as well.
The cast of characters is most like the book Animal Farm as anything I have ever seen. For today we will suffice with identifying them. If you have not read the book, it is one of my favorites and if you have please jump in and add your own observations.
The Farmer - These are the Americans that have worked and fought and died to make this country was it is today. Our parents, grandparents, soldiers, farmers, miners, and yes, even the original politicians who wrote the Constitution in such a way that would enable us to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The Pigs - These are the ones that wanted to take over and convinced the other farm animals that life would be better if they did so. Their methods were cunning, deceptive, and underhanded. Only in the end was it truly evident that they cared for no one but themselves and their own comfort and prosperity. You guessed it I hope. These are the modern day bankers and insurance companies. Promising homes, cars, and prosperity they enticed and seduced the population into debt and financial slavery. Once the noose was set and they had their fingers into almost every family they pulled the rope, took the homes, cars, credit ratings, down payments, monthly payments, and fees that had put into them and left the people to figure out how to bail themselves out. I have read that they have now moved to China where they are doing the same thing and in the meantime continue to collect monthly payments from the American people. Please note that when I refer to the PIGS I am NOT referencing your local bank teller who is doing their job just like the rest of us. I'm referring to the people much higher up on the corporate ladder of the business who set the goals, policies, and fee structures including the most diabolical of all - the adjustable rate mortgage.
The Politicians - Where the Pigs loved the money the politicians loved the power. Entrusted with serving the people instead they turned to taking contributions to insure their elections from the major industries in turn for wonderful campaigns to keep them elected term after term while they carried on their adulterous affairs, fancy dinners, and talked out of both sides of their mouths. The dictionary would define this as a bribe. The one thing I would observe however is that with the vast dis-unity of other segments of the population that these elected individuals would have a hard time even knowing how to best represent those who elected them. The objectives are so contrary that even their constituents do not agree on the best solutions. It is here where strong leadership and common sense is most needed. Only in this way will they be able to serve in a manner that preserves the mandates of our nation and not cater to special interests.
The Newscasters - Weren't these the chickens in Animal Farm? The reporting of the news is no longer about facts and truth it became about ratings. We watched the stock market rise and fall like a roller coaster depending on their optimistic or dismal reports. And, since it was now about ratings they could track who watched what and report more of the same. They are often referred to as the ministers of propaganda. Oh, wait that is from George Orwell's 1984.
The Consumers - They even call themselves this. On the farm we call them coyotes. Spending whatever they can whether they need it or not thinking that this will somehow improve the economy. A consumer is defined as a devourer and destroyer. But, they look good, smell good, drive nice cars so they have become the poster children for the sheep who also would like to do these things. But wait, where is their money coming from? The sheep of course but because they do such a good job at creating the illusion of wealth they are given tax credits and contribute large sums to campaigns so that the politicians can stay in power.
The Work Horses - Those who are In The Trenches learn more and work hard day after day to improve and support their families. One characteristic of the work horses is that they would rather give than receive. If they don't know all that is going on it is because they are too busy to pay attention. The work horses fall in all economic levels but they differ from the consumers in that they provide valuable goods and services for their efforts. Bill Gates and Sam Walton fall into this catagory along with many of our friends and neighbors. We are in good company as we follow the advice and example of those who have gone before us.
The Sheep - If you remember the story of Animal Farm the sheep were taught a song that they repeated over and over in an attempt to keep them from looking into questioning the truth of what was going on around them. They didn't want to think too much and were easily confused but they were willing and ready to follow leadership and put trust in those who they thought had their best interests at heart. The sheep when handed a credit card and told they could afford it would say thank you and spend up to their limit. The sheep though lack of knowledge have been prey to and of the bankers and pigs. Though they made many financial mistakes it was ultimately to their own detriment and without malicious intent. The sheep's greatest assets is their wool and truly they have been targeted and fleeced by those would wanted to get it.
The b.s. - Anyone who has ever been to a farm knows that the first rule is to watch your step because there is b.s. lying everywhere. It is a constant job to keep things clean but it is an effort that never is done. As the economic crisis has continued so has the b.s. These are the people who continue to draw their unemployment checks with extension after extension without looking for a job. These are the ones who will willingly drive all over town to hit every food bank and service just because they qualify. These are the ones and they are plentiful that look toward the taxpayers to provide their needs in subsidies, grants, programs, and resources on a long term basis without putting in the effort to take the actions and get the knowledge to be able to support their own families. We cannot afford this and should not allow it to continue. Auditing is the number one thing needed to expose and curtail this practice of abuse. One common thing I have seen is using the children as a tool to obtain benefits. Groan...it's a bunch of b.s. and we should not except it.
The poor - There are those who truly need a temporary helping hand. There always will be. Natural disasters, health issues, and death can put any one of us in a dramatic financial tailspin and we need to recognize and be willing to help where and when we are able.
The foreigners - This is a much written about and highly opinionated subject so I will not delve into it except to mention that there are approximately 16 million illegal people in the country and a growing trend of foreign investors. (see more on the second group in the next post)
America is being tested to it's core. It is no small wonder that progress is slow for we haven't even agreed upon a course of action let alone a sense of direction and individual steps needed to achieve that goal. It would be easy for us to say that we all want a Stable, Secure America. But really, are many in these groups not really just more concerned about what they can get for themselves? At the heart of it all is not extreme selfishness at the root of many of our nations ills? Are we really looking toward the future of our children and grand children and making choices in their best interests or are we looking toward fast, easy solutions that will lead us to deeper bondage and corruption.
I believe that we live in the best country in the whole wide world. Our prosperity is built not only on our vast resources but also on our purpose, hard work, and willingness to sacrifice, and stand for truth and justice here and where ever we see the need abroad.
Finally, and above all we are a nation built on our faith in God and it is He that has prospered us in the past. Our Declaration of Independence clearly states this within it's opening lines. What better way to end than the way it all began?
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..."