Monday, May 09, 2011

Misery, Poverty, You and Me...

Collaboration among the nation's political leaders and support for the economic stimulus were among the topis former US President Bill Clinton fielded in a March 2nd talk at the University at Albany. Speaking before an audience of 4,500 at SEFCU Arena... the two-term chief executive offered students some advice: to maximize the opportunities available to them at UAlbany and to "make the future you want." ~ UAlbany Magazine, Spring 2011, Volume 20, #1

The world is breathing a collective sigh of relief. Oil prices tumbled late last week. Logically, gasoline prices at the pumps should follow. "They" say that should happen soon... or maybe not:
If you thought the U.S. housing crisis was bad, think again.

It’s worse.
Hmmm... why does it always take longer for gas prices to come down than it does for them to go up?

I just read where 25% of U.S. households rely on check cashing or payday loan services? Holy s**t, that is insane! The people who own these loan companies are taking advantage of the working poor, the poor, and the lower middle class.

The poverty industry is one of the biggest and most lucrative in the USA. An infographic I looked at via digg actually strains to make its point, but it really comes down to just a few things; Payday loans, check cashing services, credit cards with a poor credit score, bank overdraft fees, pawn shops and title loan places. All of these are the only financial tools for the poor and the unexperienced young. And all of them will seriously keep you poor.

America was founded by settlers. They were looking to escape this situation in Europe by coming here and carving out their own chunk of the world. America was built on the premise. That ambitions people should be able to thrive through their hard work. Back in Europe they could work 12 hour days on a farm, but never get ahead. Here they can open a farm and get ahead. Things have not changed that much today. There are still plenty of opportunities to do your own thing...for low income Americans there are even more. There are tons of grants out there which will help you start a business, plus numerous tax breaks.

The problem I see today is that we are no longer the ambitious group of settlers but instead have become lazy. We want a free hand out. Our global position reflects this also. We have become accustomed to living on the fat of the land. The baby boomers children are trying to just ride on this fat of the land. Unfortunately it is almost gone. It's time to bring America back to what it should be.

And some of the simplest things are what astound me. What ever happened to living within your means? Everyone says how far in debt people are, but my question is where is their money spent? I think Social Services Money (welfare) should be loaded on a card and every month you should have to sit down with a social worker and go through all your purchases/payments. I think that would be very eye opening for a lot of people.

Overdraft fees are the worst, most of the other things can be avoided, but sometimes you cannot get by without one. So, if you're living paycheck to paycheck, and it comes down to the wire, a mistake can really cost you. A $35 overdraft for being 75 cents overdrawn is robbery, especially if it happens more than once. For example, suppose you forgot about an automatic draft or you were overcharged for something, and then you bought 4 or 5 things for $1 or $2 and next thing you know you owe the bank $175 in overdraft fees for only $5-$10 overdraft. Banks should be required to make those fees a percentage or allow them to charge a small interest for each day the account is in overdraft. The taxpayers bailed out the banks, the banks should not be robbing the poor like this, when many have lost their jobs as a result of this recession.

The question now is "where are we going from here" - and I don't think it is yet time to get the answer - the economy is still too much in flux - the PRICE of gasoline affects the price of FOOD and like it or not, those GAS prices are ruling the way Americans live day-to-day. You cannot plan for a future wondering if Gas might be $5 a gallon next week (or next time any kind of disaster or political upheaval happens someplace else on the planet).

I've been thinking about this a lot and I'm drafting an article that explores in-depth the situation America is in and how change might be initiated... stay tuned!

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