CREDIT CARD DEBT
The reliance on consumer debt by practically everybody in America keeps the population enslaved by the Oligarchy. Buy more shoddy goods on credit, give up your freedoms one by one to stay employed, work harder and longer to receive less and less in pay while the debt gets ever bigger. Americans "owe their soul to the company store" (as in the 1955 Tennesssee Ernie Ford hit song) while the U.S. Oligarchy has enough extra cash to have bought 30% of planet Earth and the Oligarchies of each and every other country own similar portions.
Without a shot having been fired, U.S. workers have become indentured servants, required to surrender their freedoms until the debt is paid off. [Before America invented itself, immigrants could sign a written contract, agreeing to trade passage to the Colonies for a term of indentured servitude, which had a finite timespan, often something like three years. During the term of servitude, many were treated little different than slaves.]
There is, however, a way out: Buy nothing except to replace what is broken or used up. Perhaps this is indeed happening, given the disastrous state of the U.S. economy, but expect that it is less a matter of conscious thrift than that money is tight due to George Dubya's misfeasance. You, as a Free Individual, must prevent your own sacrifice to Materialism, and the only means to accomplish this is to pay off ALL your consumer debt. Now!
If you cannot live on your income, then you are a willing victim of the Culture-Structure, and deserve what happens when it comes time to 'pay the piper'.
Make payments on credit cards of double the minimum. Put any bonuses or windfalls into the reduction of your debt load. Once credit cards are reduced, cancel any that charge an annual fee, and-or renegotiate each card down to the lowest rate possible. Cancel outright any card that charges more than 20% APR 'usury' is the term for any higher rate.
[When I receive unsolicited offers for another unwanted credit card, I look at the interest rate. It is quite fun to take a red marker and write "XX% APR is usury!!" on the form and then send the form back to the bank in the striped prepaid envelope.]
Once the bulk of the debt problem is gone, once your credit cards are all paid off, maintain a 'no unnecessary purchases' lifestyle. Keep one or two low-rate cards for emergencies, but get rid of the rest. Put the money that you were paying to reduce credit card debt into some savings program I.R.A. or 401K, whatever and maybe begin to treat yourself and your family, now and then but avoid Materialist toys, shun equipment and spend time.
Take a couple weeks off work and visit a National Park (off season), see Yosemite Valley and the Grand Canyon as a family unit. Leave the head-phones home and talk to each other. Or pack the kids off to the grand-folks or to camp, and take the spouse off to a luxurious week alone together in Banff or Hawaii or just at a motel on the beach or a lake somewhere. Spend a week on horseback in the Sierras or Rockies or Adirondacks.
Live a better life, an un-enslaved life on a cash basis.
Depending on where you look, the statistic for consumer credit/debt in the U.S. may or may not include mortgages on primary residence property. One's mortgage falls outside the credit card debt category above, and can be addressed concurrently, or later.
Once your high-interest credit card debt is reduced or eliminated, you can begin to reduce your mortgage, which these days may have interest of around 5% or lower. If yours is not that low, then refinance. If you were refused because your credit card debt was too high, then you can try again when you have solved that problem as above. Then make a practice of double payments on your mortgage, which will take years off the duration of the loan.
Once you are free of all debt to the Oligarchy, two things will have occurred: First, you are now a financially independent Individual, who has retrieved his/her soul from servitude to the Oligarchy, and second, the Oligarchy will no longer make anything from your consumer excesses as was the case when you were in debt.
CREDIT CARD DEPOSITS
But there is still more that can be done to retrieve the trillions on trillions of dollars of extortion money paid to the Oligarchy since the creation of the problem upon Ronald Reagan's ascension to power.
Most of what needs to be done is political, if America can muster the will to clean up the mess. In general, we need to do whatever Bill Clinton did to balance the federal budget. We also need to spend money to fix the broken infrastructure roads, schools, the environment which will have the wonderful side effect of putting unemployed Americans back to work. (The Oligarchy hates this idea, as they can make little profit from actual labor by the citizenry extortion is so much simpler.)
Here's a new idea that will also have a major negative effect on the usury inflicted on the folks who've not heard about Working Minds economics, which effect will of course also benefit those of you who have completed the above.
Why is usurious interest forced on the consumer, while savings interest rates are about equal to mortgage rates? (Duh: the Oligarchy wants it that way, so that is how it is.) My answer, however, is that this occurs because the American voter has not yet demanded their economic due.
What if a law was passed that required financial institutions to pay interest on money paid into a credit card account?
Such a law will be difficult enough to propose and enact anywhere, perhaps being enacted first in one or two progressive state legislatures, but perhaps this will be a tad easier by including the proviso that the interest rate on deposits for a bank's credit card accounts be 5% under the interest rate on outstanding debt on those cards.
Get the picture? Usurious cards that charge 26% APR would be required to pay interest of 21% APR on all deposits; cards that charge 11% APR on credit balances will have to pay only 6% APR on any deposit balance.
Greatly beneficial: the bankers will have to reduce the APR to prevent such magnanimous payouts, which will make the entire credit marketplace fiercely competitive. Much capital will be diverted into savings (instead of to profligate consumerism), and those funds will be available for Objectivist/capitalist investment. Interest on regular bank savings accounts will then increase in order to compete against credit card deposits no legislation necessary on that.
Care must be taken to protect such savings, but maybe not to the safety-level of F.D.I.C. protection: anything is better than 25% APR, which guarantees loss of equity.
You can take action on this proposal on your next credit card invoice, by keeping track of interest rates for each card, by paying off the highest-rated first, etc. You can start by making all purchases in future by cash or check or debit card from this day forward. You can start by voting in every election from this day forward, and paying particular attention to economic issues on the ballot and in the legislature.
Add up all the interest that you paid over the last 12 months on all your credit cards, gas cards, department store cards, etc. This is the amount that you will save by stopping the practice of living a lifestyle based on credit card debt. If you don't stop, you may as well write a check for this amnount payable directly to the Oligarchy...
You have a choice right here between economic slavery to the Oligarchy =OR= the economic freedom of the Working Mind. You can make the choice for yourself and bring others on board by example and by enrollment loved ones first, co-workers, neighbors, anybody and everybody.
You have nothing to lose but your chains.
I reported in Issue #32 [February] that George Dubya had increased the National Debt by 11.5% in the two years since he was crowned as President. Bad news, this percentage is now 18.5%, for a grand sum of $6,791,411,645,291.54 as-of Labor Day Weekend, per the U.S. Treasury website.
Time for a little number crunching: the I.R.S. website shows that 130,904,889 individual tax returns were filed in 2002, so by dividing debt by taxpayers, it turns out that each and every taxpayer owes a portion of $51,880.50. I'll bet you really don't like that number, which YOU will have to pay off somehow, as will every other taxpayer in America.
So we'll try a different calculation: same giant debt, but divide by population, spread the pain around. That comes out to only $23,551.14 whew! But wait: that actually means something different. While the burden is spread thinner, in some places the burden increases; for example, under this calculation a family of four owes four times that figure, or $94,204.56!
That is extremely tough on a young couple just out of college, dealing with two kids and student loan debt and the rotten economy, and no health care and another kid on the way and a whole passle of idiots ready to elect to office more of the same idiots who make the mess worse and worse...
While the Republicans, obeying the Oligarchy who bought their souls, preach and practice giving tax cuts to the wealthy, in fact they have increased the burden on YOU. The amount that you have to come up with to pull the U.S. out of bankruptcy (calculated as-of today) is either $52,000 per taxpayer =OR= $23,500 for every man woman and child in America. And the interest clock is still ticking...
If you have kids, then each of your children currently has the responsibility to pay a $23,500 debt that they do not understand. Reagan-Bush wrote the check, and each and every one of you have to come up with the money.
Thought I was too strong in saying that U.S. workers are indentured servants? Well, the figures cited in this Public Debt section still do not include your Personal Debt.
Remember the tax cut/rebate just last May? How much did you get, what was your 'gift' from Dubya? For most taxpayers, it was a few hundred dollars, or two or three dollars a week whoopee, don't spend it all in one place.
Calculators ready? The tax cut was $320 billion, divide by taxpayers, the result is $2,444.52 an amount that was added to your share of the National Debt, right? That being the case, if you received less than $2,444, then George Dubya ripped you off for the difference!! And Dubya flat lied and said he was doing 'the people' a big favor.
No matter the bilge from the politicians on both sides of The Aisle, this is a physical, math-simple calculation. Somebody is going to have to cover the National Debt, pay it off sometime, and the longer we wait, the greater the burden on your children and even your grandchildren. This is a physical issue, it is Objective, these are numbers, as compared to the wishful thinking of the benumbed sheep of America expecting some magic rescue (with identical economic issues in every other country around the world).
Didn't know that you are an indentured servant? Well, you are. As long as YOU are made to pay the interest and not even the principle on the National Debt, and the Oligarchy sits back and stashes $1.3 TRILLION DOLLARS in their [collective] pockets EVERY YEAR, you will never see daylight, economically, and your grandchildren will curse the XXth Century for the damaged ecosystems, the illiterate population, the bankrupt economy that is YOUR legacy to them.
Your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be born into indentured servitude, if not outright slavery unless a large number of people get to work and rip away the curtain hiding the false 'wizard' that is behind the Culture-Structure.
You have nothing to lose but your chains.
Prior WMail issues on similar topics include:
Issue #9: "Reason-Based Taxation"
Issue #16: "The Priests of Commerce"
Issue #19: "Virtual Tea Party"
Issue #21: "Tax Revolt"
Issue #23: "The Class System of America"
The preceding is an excerpt from Chapter One of my forthcoming book, "Working Minds: A Philosophy of Empowerment".
For the full contents of this issue of the free 'WMail' exine, click here.