There Goes the Ruddy Two-shoes

Money Matters

Posted by ruddytwoshoes on April 28, 2008

A lot of my time has gone misused in anxiousness over money, or lack thereof. Rent, auto insurance, health insurance, utility bills, student loan, auto loan, credit card payments, gas, food . . . these expenditures, side by side with a monthly salary that is at times barely enough for cover, causes a great amount of disquietude I am trying my best to learn to decimate.

I would like to think I have no right to complain; I have everything I need for subsistence. I am not burrowing through garbage bins for chow or standing by freeway off-ramps soliciting alms. I can afford to keep an apartment, drive a six-year-old sports car (which would be out of my garage if not for my outstanding loan balance), put some of my earnings into savings, and periodically coddle myself with the simple luxuries I crave.

So what I worry about, I am not sure myself, but every day, I feel like I am on rickety economic ground. Supernatural beings forbid, but if I get seriously ill one of these days, I would not know how to handle the hospital fees that may come leaping at me beyond my health insurance. I would like to start working on my Master’s next year, but my savings are far from enough to pay for the cost, and I am intimidated by the thought of another towering set of student loans. My husband and I would like to bring a baby boy out into the world within the next five years, but, man, can we really afford it?

Based upon the numbers, I would be part of America’s middle class. Based upon my anticipations about the kind of lifestyle America’s middle class is opportune to take, I am not sure I would be part of it. I distinctly remember living with my parents, part of the same class, about seven years ago and feeling as if a security blanket is encircling the home. We were a two-income family with two children who did not at all contribute to paying any of the household expenditures. But there was always that sensation that we were doing well, and it is not just because I was not made in charge of managing the bank accounts fueling the house. Generally, my family was never indulgent in whopping degrees of — I borrow from Thorstein Veblen — conspicuous consumption, which used to be so difficult for me as a lost, young spirit seeking acceptance in a society ruled by the well-heeled. My parents were always astute where money is concerned and would rather save pennies for the rainy days, which I did not comprehend until I was living in California by myself and paying for my own groceries. Anyway, notwithstanding the mortgage, insurances, food, and financial support for the children, my parents were able to put considerably much into savings.

My June 2006 graduation from arguably one of the best universities in the world has brought me to where the difference between the amount of security that engulfed my parents’ house in the past and the seemingly scarce security I can grab today is readily apparent. It might be that my husband and I are only starting to establish ourselves within the parapets of the socioeconomic classes, or it might be that this is just a super-bad time. I can take either answer, although sources tell me the latter is probably more accurate.

No, I do not look at our MSM friends, who insist that America is doing superbly in the economic department, for news. The methodology they use in assessing the quality of the national economy does not appear to include taking a glimpse past profits gained by the 1% of the American population who own a third of the country’s wealth. In other words, that the GDP is high because Citigroup, Intel, Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Exxon, Wal-Mart, General Electric, Microsoft, Boeing, and others — Google them if you want — are productive is supposed to indicate a thriving economy, but as I said, this does not take into consideration ordinary Americans like myself, whose paltry earnings are threatened by the burgeoning economic blunders.

Larry Beinhart helped me gain a little more understanding of this economic situation we now face through an article he wrote for Alternet.org today. The link is below.

What is particularly interesting to me is the concept of “trickle-down” economics, in which wealth ideally trickles from the rich down to the poor because the rich would invest in businesses that would give more people jobs and more money as a result, cause more production and more things for purchase and consumption, and consequently, generate more tax revenue. The concept is feasible, but as we can now see, it is not reaching its potential. How often does the rich become interested in opening up more businesses for people to work as opposed to buying a house in the Caribbean?

The Bush administration employed a principle of excessive spending on the wrong things, the most obvious example being the Iraq war, and then cut the rich people’s taxes. So the loaded gets more load, and the load does not drizzle down on those below because the loaded does not invest in businesses that would make it possible for Americans in the lower classes to get the trickle. What they decided to do is — and this is perceptible in the current subprime mortgage and credit card industries crises — created loans for Americans and racked up the interest rates, so those in the financial sector can collect more money from Americans in the lower end of the economic hierarchy, who can then lunge into more unaffordable debt.

Also worth mentioning is the current globalization phenomenon that is very profitable for those on top. They close out factories in the United States, causing the unemployment of many Americans, and send their jobs to third world countries, where they do not have to worry about paying their employees more than $2 a day and providing them with benefits.

I am not an economics major, so I am just now learning my lessons. I feel as if I am caught up in this ripple of financial burdens I did not help create, and I do not want to get powerlessly thrown around by it without some comprehension of the whys. Pages and pages of information await me, and I am compelled to get to as many of them as I can. I have to make sure I am making the right decisions for myself and the family I will someday try to build. Furthermore, I have to make sure I do something to cut the amount of time misused in worrying that gets chalked up in my calendar. I do not know what that is yet, but there has to be something.

Anyway, you can find the Beinhart article here.

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