Disclaimer: the following is the sort of truth that will smack you in the face. If you don’t like being smacked in the face by the truth, please don’t read further.
For the last several months I’ve been trying to find ways to save money. Each time I’ve been thwarted in my efforts. It seems that we have a system that requires someone to have money in order to save money. Think about that for just a second. In order to SAVE money, we must first HAVE money. This runs alongside the truism that banks will only lend money to people who do not need money. Under our current system, the people who need to save money cannot because they do not have money, and the people who need money cannot get it because they don’t already have it.
Is your head spinning yet? Buckle up.
The quickest way I have for saving significant money would be to reduce my car payment. I could get rid of my satellite TV, but that would not even be a drop in the bucket. My electric bill is already low. I have no water bill. My rent is reasonable for the city where I live and the size and quality of my apartment. I cannot do without internet service because I rely on it both for work and school. I could drop out of graduate school, but that is the only method by which I can create a path toward MAKING more money. I do not live extravagantly, so reducing my car payment is, right now, the best way to significantly reduce the amount of money going out of my pocket.
* * *
“Mr. Walker,” says the car man, “there’s nothing wrong with your credit. I have five banks willing to finance a car for you for what you’re willing to pay.”
“Great!” I say. “Let’s get it done.”
“Well,” he replies, “there is one problem.”
“What’s that?” I ask, quizzically.
“We’re going to need more cash than you say you have,” the car man replies. “Do you have any way of getting more cash?”
If I had any way of getting more cash, I’d just put it toward paying off the car note I already have! They would all love to help me save money, but I don’t have enough money to save money.
“Mr. Walker,” says the Sprint man, “I can DEFINITELY save you almost a hundred dollars a month on your cell phone bill. And it will only cost you $175 per phone today.”
Sprint will gladly help me save money, but I don’t have enough money to save money.
* * *
I made mistakes when I was young. I own the responsibility for every single one of them. And, right now, in my 8th grade Career Choices classes we’re going a budgeting project, and I tell my students every single day, “Don’t do what I did! Don’t spend money you don’t have. Save. Be responsible. Pay your bills on time because you don’t get second chances.” So, I’m not oblivious to the problem.
But, our system is broken! Busted! FUBAR as they say in the military!
Do you want to know why so many people are so open to accepting what amounts to socialism in our country now? Hear me! We have a system that punishes mistakes forever and never allows people who get behind to even CATCH BACK UP, much less get ahead! Don’t even argue with me about this because I am right.
Those mistakes I made when I was 19, 20, 21 years old? They’re still wrapped around my neck like a hangman’s noose and every time I get close to getting on track—THWACK!! The hangman kicks the stool out from under my feet and I’m left swinging in the wind and choking to death on my past!
We don’t have a system that tells people who made mistakes in their past, “We see that you’ve done your best to overcome those mistakes and do better. We see that you haven’t kept repeating those mistakes, so we’re going to give you another chance.” No! Our system says, “Sorry, Charlie! You get one chance and you blew it!” So, yeah, THAT is why people are willing to accept socialism in our country, because what we have now punishes the people who need a break.
I am ABSOLUTELY behind President Obama’s initiative to offer two years of community college free to students. Why? Because it will give them at least a little leg up in a system that otherwise won’t even offer them a damn thing! Kids who come from wealthy families don’t need the help–they’ve already got it. So, why not offer the kids who don’t a little bit of a chance in the world? If you say you want everyone to succeed, then you should want everyone to have the OPPORTUNITY to succeed, because if you have a brain cell in your head then you know one wrong step means they’re behind forever.
I’m mad today! I’m mad because I can’t see a way out anymore. I’m mad because nobody is willing to give a guy like me a second chance to make things right. I’m mad because I live in a country that claims to value INDIVIDUALITY above all else, but which seeks to STANDARDIZE that which cannot be standardized. I’m mad because I live in a country that used to offer people a dream, and now forces them to live in a perpetual nightmare.
I’m mad today!