The Green Light of Greed

December 30th, 2007

I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s celebrations. One day rolling into the next, despite a single digit change in the date, has never caused me to want to put on a plastic party hat and revel with the masses.This year, though, I feel a pressing need to obliterate not only 2007, but much of the entire decade before it. To crush it, stomp it, and scream it out of existence. I’ll raise my glass in a toast of “never again” and mean it, both in relief and as a rock solid resolution.

Economics and the Average Jane

I don’t need an Ivy-league think tank or a swarm of economic experts to tell me what the financial status of the poor and middle-class is in this country. Having vacillated between a few classes myself, I’ve gained some pretty stunning first-hand knowledge. In 1996, I bought a small but well-kept home in a bucolic suburb of Minneapolis. I paid $69,600. My mortgage payments were $597, including taxes and insurance. That same home today, just twelve years later, would sell for $175,000 – a difference of more than 150%. However, during the same time, my wages rose only by a paltry 13%.

For the poor in this country, the cost of living goes far beyond the basics of food and shelter. The poor are also victims of mindless discriminatory practices, which seek to part them from any chance at financial betterment and disposable income – if, that is, they are lucky enough to find decent employment.

In the 1990’s, both insurance companies and employers took to using credit reports as a weapon, putting the poor in “high risk” or undesirable categories based on nothing more than their personal financial status.

I’ve yet to see a statistic that a thin checkbook causes one to be a reckless driver, but when it comes to nickel-and-diming the lower classes, predatory and often senseless practices are abundant and rarely successfully challenged.

This senselessness has extended to the employment sector, where it is now commonplace for companies to force applicants into signing a release form allowing their potential employers to view, and make employment decisions based upon, personal credit reports.

The argument that credit reports reveal something about an applicant’s skills or character is weak at its best, and broadly discriminatory at its worst. Logically, it is the employment record and accomplishments of an applicant that most speaks to his or her value in the workforce – not whether he or she has been late with their student loan payments. Ethically, the practice of preferential employment treatment for those with good credit scores is exclusionary and elitist – and a type of discrimination that’s very difficult to prove. While there might be some merit to running the personal credit reports of those who will be in charge of a company’s finances, this has not been the extent of its use. Instead, the practice has extended to nearly every sector, from factories to boardrooms.

Politics – and What the Hell Were Americans Thinking?

It appears that the right-wing brainwashing of the American public is winding down its cycle. Even Americans who swallowed the unthinking rhetoric of “with us or against us” seem to be near the point of understanding that asking reasonable questions is not, as they had been led to believe, an unpatriotic act.

It helps that the over-long reign of Bush and his greed-soaked Republican goons will soon end, but future generations will have plenty to remind them of his corrupt administration. From his WMD lies, to 3,901 dead Americans , to a soaring debt that is nearing $9,000,000,000.00, Bush and company have played fast and loose with the future of America and its children, who are now born owing approximately $30,000 as their “share” of the national debt.

Add on the costs of high rising consumer debt, including an increase in defaulted credit card and mortgage payments, and the financial situation of this country is clearly spiraling toward catastrophe.

I encourage people to get mad. Being mad is a reasonable response to being lied to, misled, used, and plundered. Here are some articles that will help you reach the appropriate state of anger if you’re not already there:

Hey Buddy, Can You Spare $1000 Trillion?

Bush Gets What He Wants — At a Cost

Only Suckers Pay Their Bills

As a Democrat, I’m often tagged with the over-used and all too convenient label of liberal. However, like so many other Americans, I don’t swing in either the far-right or far-left field, but somewhere closer to the left of center, where individual liberty, a humanitarian-based ethos, and common sense prevail.

There’s no liberty in being a debt-ridden nation, or a nation whose citizens are steeped in debt. There’s nothing humane in provoking war, especially with weaker countries, and leaving future generations to pay the social and financial costs of that war.

There’s no liberty or humanity in making health care inaccessible to millions of Americans, or in adding to the financial burdens of the poor through unreasonable insurance, lending, and employment practices.

There was a lack of common sense during the Bush administration that seemed to have a green light effect on corporate greed and impracticality. The grab-it-and-go period of banks, corporations, oil companies, and manufacturers has left Americans strapped with high housing costs, the necessity of higher taxes, and for many in the middle and lower classes, a bleak economic future.

I’m not over being mad, and probably won’t be in my lifetime, but I’m hinging my hopes on the 2008 election and trusting that other fed-up Americans from all parties will step up to the plate and vote this country into brighter days.

4 Responses to “The Green Light of Greed”

  • What a fantastic article Jane.
    I have been mad for a while now, and lately it has been worse, coupled with a helpless, forboding, gloom filled sense of doom. It is a strange set of circumstances for me.
    Being an Air-Force brat, and a child in the 60’s, I had such a false sense of security and adoration of our government for a good portion of my life. It has been earth shattering to realize the truth. There are so many levels of corruption, manipulation, and theft of the American people, so much greed. It seems to have no end, and it is so draining emotionally.
    There is our poison food, the credit industry, the medical industry, the almighty pharmacutical industry, Walmart is going to take over the world any day now.
    When we drive through CA, every city looks exactly the same. Outlets, Targets, fastfood, starbucks. We are just a franchise society with no personality. Just the personality of greed.
    I do hope for better days.
    Happy New year Everyone.

  • You know how I feel about the overtaking of my party (Republican) by religious nuts and pork barrell spenders. It’s been painful for me to watch. The core of the party I grew up and once believed in wholeheartedly has been totally corrupted by a handful of wealthy white men and good old boys, who play on Christianity and “family values” while pillaging the government coffers.

    So far Jane, there’s nobody I want to vote for. There’s no one, in my mind, who seems strong enough to take the country off the disaster course. The problems are so huge. How are we going to get out of a 9 trillion dollar debt? It’s astronomical!! Even if we raised taxes, the debt will take several decades to pay off!

    Now we’ve got people wanting to add universal health care?!? DOn’t get me wrong. I understand there’s a crises out there. I have a mother who would not get by if not for her kids, including me. But the money’s got to come from somewhere, and somehow adding another trillion dollars to the debt seems like a really piss poor solution.

  • Aloha All!

    Jane; 1st let me say how truely wonderful it is to be back here…. and I think the power of places like this will help us get through these difficult times.

    Your article is soooooo right on…. this is the exact arguement/discussion that took place over xmas dinner…. I was out of my mind, in that most did not get it. They don’t see the greed, just call it growth… I worry we as a country do less and less for ourselves and then complain that people don’t work…. (catch-22) We have other countries supplying us with cheap labor and our energy source. We have fewer and fewer jobs for people to make a decent living and be able to be contributors and not takers.

    I don’t mind paying my taxes, but for god’s sake let’s at least have a say in how’s it’s managed…… cut out the crap. No more raises for the public officials until the debt is paid off….. and no more vacations until our troops are home safe.

    Sorry, it’s late and I’m rambling…. I share a lot of what Allison is feeling.

  • I also would like to join Jane is obliterating 2007 from memory. It has been a year of lessons for me. A wake up call to assess my former faith in human nature.

    Politically, I pray for a year of activism for the American people. They have had to raise their voices in protest many times this past year. Some things have been accomplished. Other issues have politicians padding important legislation with add-ons that our citizens have already protested against.

    I know that corruption will never be taken out of our government, but we can at least make them aware that we are watching. Send faxes and make phone calls. I’m a faxer myself and have sent more this year than in any other period in my lifetime.