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Scenes of Americans without self-restraint

Written by Subject: Day of Reckoning

Scenes of Americans without self-restraint

By Mencken’s Ghost
Oct. 14, 2011

Four scenes from a recent day:

Scene One:  Wal-Mart’s health and beauty department.  I’m selecting a package of razors from a shelf:  15 Schick double-edge throwaway razors for $5.47.  Nearby, a thirty-something man covered in tattoos exclaims to his equally-tattooed wife, “Oooo, Jenny, look at this!” as he grabs a box from an end-cap display.  “See, it has an Arizona Cardinals logo on it.”  She responds, “That’s awesome.”  He tosses it in their shopping cart and they walk away. 

As I walk by the end-cap display, I see that they were purchasing a fancy Gillette three-edge razor that comes with only one cartridge, for a price of $7.80.  In other words, they paid $7.80 for one razor, and I paid $5.47 for 15 razors, or thirty-six cents apiece.  Replacement cartridges for the Gillette were priced at over three dollars apiece

It would be unkind to say that the man and wife looked like losers, so let me just say that they didn’t look like winners.  It would be a safe bet that I have a lot more money in the bank than they have.  Hmm, I wonder why.

Scene Two:  My home office later in the day.  The phone rings.  It’s a call from a distant business acquaintance in his forties who is looking for financial advice.  Knowing that he has an annual income of over $300,000, I ask him about his net worth.  He shocks me by saying that he has no equity in his sprawling house and less than $100,000 in savings.  To make his situation worse, he still has kids to put through college. 

He has always been a fun guy and a big spender who lives for the moment, enjoying the best wine, best restaurants, best resorts, best cars, and best communications gizmos.  By contrast, the things I enjoy the most are the things that are free--things like taking long walks with my wife.  I’ll have money for old age and he will have little, although his annual income is considerably higher than mine.   Hmm, I wonder why.  

Scene Three:  My home office, right after the foregoing conversation.  I’m reflecting on a nanny that my wife and I had employed when both of us were working and our son was in grade school.  In her early twenties at the time, she was smart, single, and attractive.  She also was always in dire financial straits, due to her love of partying, smoking, paying six dollars apiece for drinks at bars, and dating losers who mooched off her.  Creditors called our house just about every day.  I would advise her to save her money and use her flexible work schedule to get a college degree or learn a trade.  She didn’t take my advice, but she did ask me to delay giving her some of her weekly earnings, because, she said, “If you give all of it to me at one time, I’ll have it spent by the next day.”  No doubt, she is still living on the brink of bankruptcy and getting calls from creditors.  Hmm, I wonder why.

Final Scene:  My family room later that evening.  My wife and I are watching a show called “House Hunters International” on HGTV.  We watch it because it’s more useful than a psychology degree for insights on human nature.  It’s a typical segment.  An American husband and wife of modest means with two small kids are in Italy looking for a vacation home to buy in the $300,000 range.  He says, “We really can’t afford this, but I want to give my family something special.” 

Yeah, moron, give your family a lot of debt and leave them with no safety net in case something unexpected happens, like a costly illness or the loss of a job.  Yeah, that’ll be special.   But don’t worry, your kids can take out student loans to attend college and then demonstrate on Wall Street against the system instead of against the real culprits:  their foolish parents.

The husband and wife look for a house in a dreary Italian town full of old people and graffiti.  There is no sign of industry, no modern retail stores, no supermarket, and apparently no building codes.  The houses are obviously poorly constructed and are clearly money pits requiring a lot of maintenance and repair.  One comes with a cistern, because, as the realtor says, “The water supply isn’t very reliable in the dry months.”  The husband and wife don’t seem to care.  They don’t ask about taxes, utility costs, Italian property laws, or something as mundane as how far they’d have to drive to find a hardware store to buy tools and materials for the inevitable repairs.  Obviously romantics, they picture idyllic vacations in Italy and not the reality of long and expensive trans-Atlantic airplane rides with fidgety kids, long car rides to the dreary town, vacations spent cleaning and repairing the house, or the difficulties of being thousands of miles from the property 48 weeks out of the year.

As my Dad would say if he were still alive, “They’re going to grow old without having a pot to piss in.”  Hmm, I wonder why.

Actually, I don’t have to wonder why.  All of the foregoing people are part of the large segment of the American population that has no self-restraint.  They live for the moment.  Like Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, they put off worrying about serious matters until tomorrow.  Then when tomorrow comes, they put it off again, ad infinitum.

It would be none of my business how they live, if it were not for the fact that they vote.  When many of them end up without a pot to piss in, they will vote to force people like me to buy pots for them, as is happening now with millions of Americans who have no pots because they have no self-restraint. 

Sorry for the vulgarity, but they can pee up a rope for all I care. 

3 Comments in Response to

Comment by will hammons
Entered on:

While your insights are not without value, your lack of compassion is saddening.  These people, even if they make poor choices, are still human beings as worthy of love and understanding as anyone else in the eyes of God.   It sounds as if you have made wise choices in your life.  Give thanks for that, then, and perhaps you could be slower to condemn others for not having your wisdom.  

Comment by Ed Price
Entered on:

The reason for this problem is this. The money system is a debt system rather than a value system.

If the people understood this, if they were taught how it works in school, they would know how to act properly with money, and would understand the advantages of doing so. But, of course, then the banking system would not be able to so easily steal the labor from the people to use it to conquer the world.

We either need to change the debt system to a value system (my choice) or else teach the people how a debt system acts almost exactly opposite to a value system, and how to work with it.

Comment by Barry Hess
Entered on:

Interesting thoughts, Craig.  I think I know all of the folks you mentioned, some of them gots lots of 'stuff', on credit they can't repay, but's shiny stuff.  I'm seeing a brutal 2012 coming in terms of self-induced pain and worry. Well, maybe not 'worry'--because government will fix it.

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