Thrift vs. debt

Here’s an editorial in today’s New York Times, by David Brooks, about the reasons that our society is so debt-ridden today.  It speaks to the same issues I was talking about in this post a couple of days ago.  Brooks cites three reasons for the debt crisis that we’re currently in:

1.  The unscrupulous, predatory banks and other lenders who preyed on the public

2.  Personal responsibility for one’s actions

3.  Our consumer society and the expectations that exist about how we are supposed to live

I know the problem is a combination of all three reasons.  Personally, however, I tend to lean toward reason number two.  One of the very first words that we all learned as small children, because we heard it so often, was:

“NO.”

As a society we need to relearn that word.  “NO” to the offers to refinance a mortgage that come in the mail.  “NO” to ourselves when we feel like we need a little retail therapy.  “NO” to those checks that come in our credit card bill.  “NO” when the neighbors get a new car and we compare it to our own junker.

All those “NO”s sound a little harsh and punitive.  So, let’s find things that we can say “YES” to.  Such as:  “YES,” let’s have a “staycation” and go to the beach every day as if we were tourists.  “YES,” instead of going to the mall, let’s go to the library and check out a bunch of DVDs and have a movie weekend.  “YES,” let’s get outside and put a little sweat equity into our property so it looks better than the neighbor’s.

“YES,” let’s take an opportunity to laugh at ourselves and our need for more stuff, courtesy of the late, great George Carlin:

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