I believe our country is still a land of equality.
Unfortunately, we are letting some few people dictate to us what we can and can’t do.. We know they are doing this to us.. We feel it in our pockets when we go to the grocery store, and hope the bank account has enough money in it so we don’t overdraw it, or hope it won’t go through until tomorrow, when your pay is direct-deposited.
Speaking of direct deposit.. Our country’s leaders seem to have bought into this bank-controlling mechanism of paying employees. Bank-controlling, I say? Umm… Where is all of your money? If it’s in your mattress, you might be on the right track!
If you’re interested in my explanation of why I think the banks control our money, then read on.. Otherwise, you may want to skip down to the last 3-4 paragraphs. ;-)
My money is in a bank. I started putting money in the bank when I was twelve years old.. (Maybe thirteen..) I had to open a bank account to cash the checks from my local paper route. Not long after, we started learning about savings accounts in school, and how they gain interest, and so on.. Interest caught my attention.. You mean I can put money away, even a little, and I can earn more money? I was hooked! I hadn’t even earned any interest at this point, but the prospect of earning money just by letting in sit in my bank account, well.. It was absolutely exciting!
And I still hadn’t earned any money… Time passed, and I received a fee on my account. A fee? For putting my money in your bank, you charged me a fee? It was my understanding I was going to earn money with this savings account, and you are charging me fees for it? Yes it is. Yes we are. Oh, and Yes we are.
Okay, let me get this straight. I loan my money to this (nameless) bank so they can charge me money for the account.. Okay, so I’ll stop putting money in the bank. Then they can’t take my money.
I was wrong again. They continued to charge me fees until I had no money left in my account, and then.. (Can you believe this?) They charge me more fees, so my account becomes negative! Now I’m being told it’s an account maintenance fee. Great.. Close my account! What? If I close my account I can’t cash these checks from my paper route? Are you kidding me?
Welcome to the real world, Ron.. The real world.. Really? This is it? Being charged fees for no basic reason is the real world? As I continued to grow up, I found out this is absolutely the case!
I have to pay rent. I have to buy gas. I have to buy food. I have to buy clothes. I have to pay for maintenance on my car, hair cuts, razors, tooth paste, and the list just goes on!
Before I knew it, I’m living from payday to payday.. Barely getting by, and having to skip buying clothes, razors, garbage bags, and many other things for a few days until payday gets here.. Or write a check, and hope it doesn’t “go through” before I get paid in two days.. Or get overdraft protection for my account, and get charged an overdraft fee for overdrawing my account to buy necessities!
My struggle to make ends meet continues on throughout my life and into today.. I was welcomed to the “real world” between 12 and 13, and I’ve been here for 22+ years now. It doesn’t seem so real to me.. It feels more like a “surreal world” of mischief and deceit at every turn.
Why do I put up with this? If you think about it, most of us are not really given a chance to make our lives better. The (relatively) few people with all of the money in this country are able to go, and send their children, to the “better” schools. I use “better” very loosely to describe the “more expensive” and “well known” schools. Whether they are actually better than any other school is not my concern. They are more expensive and ‘renowned’ and therefor look astonishing on your resume.
So I need to go to these so-called “top schools” to be able to get a better job. I need to spend a bunch of money (or go in debt with student loans [banks!!!]) to get recognition I deserve for the skills I have. Oh, but if you have bad credit, you aren’t going to get your student loans. If you aren’t great at some sport, science, or story writing, while in school, you aren’t going to qualify for any scholarships.
Great! So now I know I need to pay out of pocket for school. Which schools will let me make payments that are within my budget? Not many? Okay, I guess I’ll join the Navy! That was an interesting 10 and a half years of my life wasted on (encouraged) drinking alcohol almost every night. I’m lucky, now, I was able to get myself away from alcohol. Drinking alcohol in excess causes all kinds of damage to your body.. Alcoholism, cirrhosis of the liver, weight gain, headaches, nausea, etc. That “euphoric” feeling began to become a reminder of how I’d feel the next morning.
The pay clerks that took care of paying us told me that I would have to get a bank account so they could deposit my money directly.. This was supposedly for saving trees, and keeping the planet green. I begrudgingly chose a credit union this time, and was a little more satisfied.. Until a check I tried to float bounced.. Then it was another.. and another.. And before I knew it, I was no longer allowed to cash checks at the Navy Exchange.
It was at this point that I vowed never to write another check. This changed later in my life, but I stuck to this rule for about 10 years… Until times got tougher again, in 2007, when I decided I needed to go get a payday loan to pay my bills.. I chose this option because I found that I was getting overdraft charges from the bank in the amount of over $600/month.. Six hundred dollars a month!? How did I get myself into this mess, I wondered.
It turns out that while I was unemployed, (Between 2004 and 2006, I had one temporary job.. Lots of overtime, but it didn’t last long..) I got myself trapped into recurring monthly overdrafts that amounted to fees of over $600/month. After I finally became employed again, I looked at my bank account online, and did some calculating. It’s time to make a change! If I went to a payday loan place and wrote them a check, I would only pay $95 for a loan to get me through until payday.. I’d do that twice a month, and it helped me keep my account in the green for a while.. Dropping my monthly fees from $600 to about $190 per month. This was good thinking, I thought.. Until the gas prices started rising.. and everything else with them!
Then I had a payday loan I couldn’t pay.. Great! Now what?
Get another payday loan! That brought my monthly fees back up to $380/month.. Still less than the $600 I was paying, but more than I wanted to pay in fees. But it helped me get by for a little while longer.
Then I had two payday loans I couldn’t pay. And that is where I stopped. There was no way I was going to add another payday loan to the equation! So I just didn’t pay it, and let the creditors add to the already growing list of creditors and collection agencies who were calling.. Stress is already a factor in my life at this point, so I just pile more on top of it.
So as you can see above, I’ve made some poor choices in my life which have caused suffering to myself and my family. I made my bed, and I am now laying in it, so to speak. Some may say this to me, but I’m betting most of those saying it are pretty well off, or making it, and not really seeing what is really happening to this country..
Our homeless population is growing.. Yes, it is growing.. Why do we even have homeless? Aren’t we all created equal? Aren’t we given the same opportunities? Can’t we all do well regardless of color, race, ethnicity, health, gender, etc? That’s what we’re told is the case, but how come they don’t hire men to dance at a “gentlemen’s” club? It’s because straight men wouldn’t necessarily come to a co-ed strip club! Club owners want to appeal to their chosen group of people, so they weed out any applications from men, or put them at the bar.. Maybe they’ll hire men for stocking or unloading trucks. Not that I would want to dance at a strip club, but maybe some other man would.
Equality.. Equal rights.. Equal opportunity.. These are all words tossed around to describe our right to be equal.. We supposedly have these rights.. Rights, in case you are wondering, are not the same as privileges.. Privileges can be taken away. You have a right to equal opportunity when it comes to obtaining a job, but if you don’t do well in that job, the privilege of working their may be taken away from you.. And if you put “Male” on your application at a strip club, you can pretty much bet it’s going to be filed in the round file.
All of this is driven by the Almighty Dollar. People want it. I want it. I want to be able to live comfortably and make sure my family has enough food, clothes, and other necessities to get by without worrying if I’m going to make it to the next payday or not! I’m pretty sure my family wants this too, but it’s a position in life that is, unfortunately, difficult to achieve.
So why is it so difficult to achieve a position of financial stability?
I didn’t get paid a whole lot, but the Navy provided on-base housing and money for those who chose to live off-base, to help pay the rent. So it was much easier to get by while I was enlisted.. However, I still found myself going to the mess hall more often near the end of my pay periods, rather than the local restaurants. So I was still living from payday to payday..
The question remains.. How did I find myself in this predicament? I think the answer lies in our country’s reliance on Capitalism. Capitalism has been our nation’s motto since as far back as can be remembered. Compete with local businesses so you can get your business on top. Once you get your foot in the door, you can start raising your prices to increase your profits. If you’re lucky, your business will start rising to the top! All the while, the businesses you are competing with are falling by the wayside, and you can again increase your profits because there is little to no competition.
Get rich, and make your competition poor! That’s how this country’s businesses operate. Compete and win, or go out of business. In some cases, this is important to our economy.. Maybe, however, a company might provide a similar, lesser quality product that they can offer for a fraction of the price of its competitors. These products, if they are made ‘good enough’ will appeal to the lower income people who really want the ‘real deal’ but are stuck with what they can afford. So we, as consumers, drive businesses into bankruptcy by buying from their competitors, even though the quality of the competitor’s product is not up to par with the original product.
Then you have businesses suing other businesses for copyright, trademark, or patent violations. The judges who are assigned these cases are all paid for from our taxes, and the more cases we have, the more judges we have to pay for. This sets the stage for the haves and the have-nots.
Many businesses use automated assembly lines to create their products. This takes hundreds of thousands of jobs away from the market, causing more and more people to find themselves working fast food jobs if they are lucky!
Other businesses contract their customer support to foreign countries where their economies allow them to work for a fraction of the cost of an employee in the United States, increasing their profits by decreasing the amount of money spent on customer support employees.
There are many things wrong with the way businesses are allowed to operate. Just recently, AT&T Wireless, a cellular company, has been making a move to take over their rival company, T-Mobile. If it is allowed to go through, then AT&T will have a basic monopoly of all GSM cellular networks in many areas of the United States. I thought we had protection from monopolistic businesses in this country. If this merger is allowed to go through, then our government will be, basically, turning AT&T into a monopoly! If T-Mobile is doing that bad, maybe the government should give them a bailout! (I mean this sarcastically)
So.. We continue to pay for and consume products from businesses. (We are consumers, after all!) Why do we [consumers] keep perpetuating this lack of control over our economy? Why do the government officials who we vote into office not put the kibosh on the ever-growing problem with capitalism in this country?
I bet you’re wondering why I think capitalism isn’t working in our great and wonderful country. Well, if you think about it, capitalism causes people to become greedy. They want all of the money they can get for themselves so they feel secure. People want their children, their children’s children, and those children’s children to be taken care of when they depart their consciousness and step into the after-life. I know I do!
Time has proven that capitalism doesn’t work.. People with money are considered to be most powerful. People without money are constantly spending money to make sure they have their necessities.. Why do these people in power become so rich? We let them.
We give capitalists the power to take as much money from us as they can. We let them charge outrageous prices for products that barely meet a quality standard of some sort.. That quality is based on the cost of the product.. We, as consumers, make the decision whether a product is good enough to use or not.
Maybe we should refuse to buy things if they exceed a reasonable price? Do we have that option? Not really.. We let the businesses choose what our products are going to cost. Then we buy those products because we have to.. We even buy some products we don’t necessarily need at unreasonable prices! Most smart-phones retail at over $400 (US). A laptop retails around $700 for a low-end model to over $4,000 for a higher end model. Servers can cost as much as $100,000 or more, depending on what you need.
In short, we allow businesses to charge outrageous prices by paying for the products, even though we think the price is high! Americans like convenience. It’s a fact. We like convenience because we have to split our shopping up over multiple trips, based on the money we have to spend at the time. I know plenty of times I have purchased coffee creamer at a local convenience store rather than a grocery store for over 1.5 times the cost at a regular grocery store! Why would I do something like that? Convenience! I’d rather take a short trip to a gas station down the street from my house than to go into town and visit a grocery store.
Okay.. We pay for convenience. I get that, but I don’t understand why we have to pay so much for it.
Maybe, since capitalism is obviously not working in our country, we should put a cap on the amount of money a business is allowed to earn in a year.. Maybe we should do the same for individuals? Sure, I understand that some jobs require more expertise, and to get that expertise, you need to go to a good school, or have lots of “on the job” experience. But why should someone who can afford a better college have an advantage over someone who couldn’t? Why should a smart person have a better chance to survive in this country than someone who was not as blessed with the so-called “smarts” required to do a job?
This country was founded on some basic principals. We are all given the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are unalienable rights (can’t be taken away) given to us, according to the declaration of independence, because we exist. The second we reach a certain point in our mother’s womb, we are given these rights! How can we be struggling to survive in our country if we have these rights? It’s killing us, so it violates our first fundamental right to life. We are censored when we try to say certain things, so our liberty has been violated. And since it takes money in this country to pursue happiness, those of us at the bottom of the ‘food chain’ will never be happy.
I think it is time we all got a piece of the pie! We need to let our government know that it has some problems (believe me, they already know this, but we need to let them know we know), and force them to start making some changes for the betterment of the people! Lets stand up and show this country who’s really in charge! We need to stop letting all these ‘upper class’ folks tell us what to do! We need to get involved in our problems, and force our government to listen to us!
The only way to do this is to put better people in the Senate and House of Representatives. We need to really take a long, hard look into what makes our politicians tick. What motivates them to do what needs to be done for our country? If you look hard enough at our current Senators and Representatives, you may find that money is the primary factor that drives them, and they are not doing very much that is in the best interest of the people.