Tag Archives: Debt

The Future Will Never Arrive

“Everybody’s working for the weekend.”

A while ago I had a friend tell me that I would always have to do something in my life that I won’t enjoy so that I can enjoy other aspects of my life more. There would always be some aspect of “work” so that I could “play” later. The thing that most surprised me about this statement from my friend was that everyone else involved with this conversation agreed with him. Many people seem to have this notion that unhappiness now will lead to happiness later.

This is very apparent in our monetary system. People take on debt (negative wealth) in order hopefully insure they will be prosperous later. These people hope that someday in the future they will no longer have a burden of debt and things will be better for them. This encourages them to “work” jobs that they may or may not enjoy so they can gradually reduce the amount of negativity (debt) in their lives so they can be happier in the future.

The problem arises when it becomes apparent that the future will never get here. All you have is what you are right here, right now. The past is gone and it will never come back, and the future will always be out of reach. If you choose today to take on something that makes you more unhappy that is all you have, nothing else.

This system may have worked for many people before you, and it might work for some after, but one thing I have learned in my relatively short life is that change is the only constant now. The world as it was 22 years ago when I was born is nothing like the world today. Many of the things we have now could hardly have been imagined back then, and the only thing I have learned about planning for the future is to plan for it to change.

With that amount of uncertainty, how can anyone plan out their debt for the next 20-30 years? How can anyone rely on anything except what they have right now in this instant? Yet somehow, many people are still finding ways to push their happiness further and further in to the future and fall in to the traps our society has created.

I am sorry if this post seems vague, but it is still a vague concept to me. I am constantly told by many people to invest for my future. Sometimes this investment involves taking on debt in order to have it pay off later, but other times it involves storing my wealth so I can access a greater amount in the future. Instead of being told to focus on what I can contribute to the world right now, I am told to wait and try to find a way to contribute later.

This is a concept that continues to push me in circles in my head, but I keep coming back to one question. If I can’t live in the present moment with peace and happiness, what is the point of living at all?

It’s Debt, Silly

Some are shouting “We must raise taxes, especially those on the wealthy!”

Others proclaim “We need to spend less, and tax less, that is the only way for us to continue growth!”

But most are meekly stating “Maybe we should look somewhere in the middle for the answer?”

A lot of people you talk to these days will tell you that one of these three solutions is the answer to our continued economic woes. But all three of these have one problem, they operate under the idea that our current failing structure can be repaired when the real issue we are facing cuts not just to the bone, but completely through it.

The world as a whole is a debt based society. Almost every relevant culture today has accepted that taking on debt is the best way to grow faster than everyone else, and the focus is put almost entirely on this idea of economic growth. At some point in history we collectively adopted this idea that growth is what we need to strive for, and we should achieve this by any means possible. Any period of time that does not have growth is considered a “recession” and we are taught early on to fear that word. This means that we must always continue to grow towards infinity, which of course is impossible in a finite world with finite resources. At some point we must decide the we have had enough. The point where we would have been forced to make this decision would have come a long time ago if we hadn’t come up with the ultra-handy invention called debt with interest.

Do you want to go to school? Buy a house or a car? Start a business? Try doing any one of those things without taking on a single penny of debt. I have, and I have failed. Like most people in our modern culture I was duped in to the idea of accepting a debt burden over my head. Granted my failure is not anywhere near as heavy as the failures of many others, but it is still an amount of money that is much, much larger than my income.

You might be wondering, is debt really that bad? Is something that allows me to get a nice shelter and transportation really one of the roots of our problems?

Imagine something for me for just one second. I want you to think of a world in which no one can get even a single dollar of debt. Where you only can buy things that you have the money for right now. Would you spend $20,000 for a new car when you only ha$5,000 saved up? How could you? How could anyone? If only a few can get the money to pay the high price of $20,000 there would be no market for cars of that price, but there would be a great market for cars that cost $5,000. Of course that would mean sacrificing some features that most people think add quality to their purchase. But it turns out that most car companies are just adding more flash such as heated seats, dvd players, and computerized control rather than improving the core functions of the vehicle itself. This is most apparent by the fact that we still use an engine technology that is over 100 years old, and fuel efficiency has hardly improved at all. So this extra money we have created for ouselves through debt has only allowed us to buy toys that are slightly more fancy rather than things that are more useful, but this is an entirely different rabbit hole to get sucked in to.

Under a debt based society we can get that fancy car with the touch screen computer in the dash. We can get that large house that uses electricity in an extravagant, inefficient way. All we have to do is dedicate the next 30 years or so to servicing that debt, and assuming all things work out and no more debt is needed, we can finally own those shiny things.You see, debt lets us seem like we are more wealthy than we actually are, but this is only an illusion. This is an illusion that has been engrained in to every last one of us since we were small children. We saw our parents get that nice house, have two or three cars, and plenty of toys to fill our home with. This is what many call the “American Dream,” but of course a dream can never be reality. It will always be just out of reach and it is not the road to happiness, because happiness itself is the road we should be on. Being happy is not a destination, it is a choice that you either choose or don’t every waking moment of your life.

This debt-ridden road has been long, and the illusion it created is so tangible it is incredibly hard not to fall for. We have spent generations trying to get to the destination this road leads to, but we are discovering slowly that the destination does not exist. Debt has always and will always be a burden, and until we get rid of this burden we can never be free.

Bound by need to viscious villainy.

I borrowed this title from one of my favorite musicians, The Dear Hunter.

Oh how awesome it is to live in a society where I can get almost anything I want as long as I promise to pay the seller back over time in the future. I can take months to pay off a fancy TV, years to pay off and shiny, brand-new car, and decades to pay for a house before I actually own it, and it seems most of today’s people agree with me on the idea of taking on debt in order to build personal “wealth” for the future. Of course, our wealth is often measured entirely by the amount of money we are worth, but I digress.

I as well as most of the people reading this blog have been tricked at least once in to thinking that taking on debt right now will make us more valuable in the future. I mean, how can we not be? Almost every single person you have ever met (at least in the US) has taken on debt at some point, and for many of those people things seems to have worked out well for them.We all have lived in an environment that allows us to do so because chances are things won’t change much over the next 15 to 30 years. This allows us to be bound to a pool of money that is larger than ours for the extent of our debt, turning us in to slaves to that loan.

In the words of a very wise man: “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender”

See how we have been tricked? We have been fooled in to believing that it is good, and sometimes necessary to enslave ourselves to another all in the name of “wealth.” We no longer have to contribute something to the world around us before we can get something in return. Instead, we are given something and then asked to do whatever is necessary in order to repay it.

For many of us, that means we will work 40 hours a week (or more) at a job we don’t particularly enjoy but is bearable for now. For others, that means they will work as hard as they can, only to have everything taken away because of an unforeseen change in their financial system.

But as a whole, this mentality has led to a world society where a few get to reap the benefits of living above their means by sucking most of it away from the unfortunate majority. We hold at least part of the responsibility for this situation. We have asked for this material wealth and  it has been given to us in all of its slave-educing glory. I believe this road is reaching it’s climax, and what lies on the other side is anyone’s guess.

We could use this bad situation as a learning experience, and look for ways to live our lives without a fascination on debt. Or we could continue down this path borrowing more and more, until we have completely sold ourselves out the the people we rely on. Each and everyone one of us have control over this situation for ourselves, and if enough of us decide to make the first steps towards a life non-reliant on debt, the road will only become clearer.