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Monday, June 30, 2008

SUVS, Credit and The Future of America

I wonder a bit about the future--and I have always advocated facing the future with faith and with hope. I think we are lucky to be in a country that has so much--though I know that it must seem dwindling to many of us. Its hard to not notice though the factors that seem to be coming together, that seem to say --look out--things are going to be pretty darn tough. I'm wondering though if this won't actually be good for us all in the long run. Maybe we need a good dose of reality in our lives?

Having been through tough times in more ways than one in my life I just think-- it will be ok--but it will probably be different. In some ways it may even be better. Maybe alot of us will get back to earth and learn to walk with feet on the ground instead of thinking we can float on air through our lives, or on credit.

I say that because I know that in hard times folks tend to be more aware of the important things in life and less consumed with trivial things. Its no longer a matter of which options to choose for an overpiced suv--its a matter of how to get the old car to last so you can get to your job without having to spend too much of your paycheck on another vehicle, or maybe how to use public transportation like my next door neighbor does.

I'm no fan of suvs--and its not because of the gas--I just hate driving and parking next to them. I've been hit by two of them--seems they have 'blind spots'especially when they are driven by teenage girls. In my experience the average SUV driver is 'blind' himself. Blind to other vehicles and possibly even blind to reality itself.

One of my pet peeves has been when I pull out a little into traffic to see so I can make a turn--and the suv next to me pulls out just enough to make sure I can't see! This happens to me probably once a week or so here in Charlotte where traffic is always challenging--and it tends to get me teed off. I always look up to see that the driver of the suv is totally oblivious to my tiny little exisitence down below him/her. Another thing I just hate is having to drive to the top level in a parking ramp because all the open spots left between the poorly parked SUVs are too small for my car!

What amazes me often is I know that these vehicles cost about twice what I paid for my first house. It never ceases to amaze me that folks can afford to have these things parked in driveways of brand new houses, while still paying for college tuition and big weddings. ??? I often would think--what do they make at those jobs?? I guess I didn't realize it isn't how much they earn its their credit score that matters.

I think of everyone living in houses with 30 year mortgages. Many of the folks will be in their 60s before they finish those mortgages--how many will still have the income they have now? I'm betting very few. I'm betting there is not a quick end to all the mortgage problems in the US. Its easy to say now--after having lost what we had--but why don't we folks realize that we are all buying more than we can afford?

Why has it taken all this major economic trouble for us to 'see' what we've been doing?

I have a sort of 'working theory' I'm calling it my 'SUV' theory. I think we are all like folks in SUVs who seem not to notice that they are parked over the lines, or that they are pulling out in front of others or backing into them-- we all have a blind spot. We don't see reality because we're too busy living in some kind of credit bubble--and I'm afraid that bubble is popping rudely in many of our lives.

There's a tv commercial on these days that always gets my attention. A cute young man is singing about how not knowing he had bad credit got him in all these predicaments. The tune is catchy, you've probably heard it--

"free credit report dot com, I should have seen it coming at me like an atom bomb.."
Anyhow--
The guy is working in a tourist trap, living in his in-laws basement and in another commercial driving a 'beater'-- all because of his poor credit.

Kind of makes you think-- Wait a minute-- what is WRONG with a young person working a 2nd job, living with family, and driving something cheap so he can get on his feet in life?

NOTHING--except that IF he had good credit he could live better by 'BORROWING' someone else's money and paying back more than he needed to begin with. THAT has become the American Dream.

Yup--The message is that its better to have it all now--when you are young--on someone else's dime. We're teaching our young folks that they can live better by going into debt.

From the first credit card to buy designer jeans to the first car loan and student loan, finally to the home mortgage, we folks are paying our way to a better life with other people's money and we're oblivious to the fact that what is really happening here is there is an entire economy of money funnelers that are living off of us like parasites. Our creditors basically own everything we think we own! They aren't going to work to make the payments, we are--but when the least thing goes wrong--the stuff is theirs.

So I don't know, I think the SUVs are going to start to disappear and folks are going to start to 'see each other' again. It may end up a good thing, not an easy thing, but perhaps in the long run it will change things that so that more folks will be aware of what really matters in life. Maybe more kids are going to be living the folk's basements? But--hopefully when that generation does get on its own, it won't be living on credit like we and our folks did.

2 comments:

  1. I was thinking the people in Haiti who are starving would do well to raise rabbit meat!!! We might see some of our ideas going into action if things continue to deteriorate here in the US !

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  2. Interesting idea. It would be chickens here--but I think most cities won't allow much like that to be done in one's yard. I think things are not so strict in the south though--although I think it may be just that folks don't obey their zoning rules too.

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