You’re Not a Victim Henry; You’re a Slave… – Guest Post
November 20, 2008 by The Constant Complainer
Welcome to The Constant Complainer – voted “Best Local Blog” in a “Best of Cleveland 2008” readers’ poll. Below is a Guest Post that was submitted by Neo Con Don. His complaint is that he believes “the victim mentality is destroying our economy.” Enjoy and remember to leave him your comments. And remember, Guest Posts are accepted on most topics, as long as they are enteraining and a complaint. Without further adieu, here’s Don…
I have a friend; we’ll call him Henry. He works at one of the local auto manufacturing plants. He makes about $24 per hour, or about $50,00 per year. Like nearly every United Auto Worker, he is concerned about losing his job, and rightfully so. His wife’s name is Clara. They have 3 children and live in a Cleveland suburb.
3 years ago, their youngest child started school, so Clara returned to work full time as a professional in the private education field, and their income rose to be just under $110,000. They’re buying their home, have two new cars, a new swimming pool, and lots of fun toys. They’ve worked hard, and they’ve certainly earned it. In his mind, Henry represents the American Dream. But, Henry also represents everything that is wrong in the United States… They don’t own a single thing, and they have become slaves to their employer and their union.
After Clara returned to work, they decided to buy a few things. They took out a second mortgage and added windows and a roof on their house, and put in an in-ground pool. Over the past 2 years they bought two brand new cars financing them for 72 months. Both loans are upside down. They believed their house was needing some improvements inside, so they went to their local home store and ordered new carpet for nearly the entire house and new appliances for their kitchen. They also decided to refinish their basement and create a game room for the family to hang out in. They thought it was important to update the technology in their house, so they purchased a new flat screen television, a new desktop computer, and a new wireless laptop. If you haven’t guessed it, they qualified for a 12-month no interest loan for all of this. And finally, two weeks ago, they bought a dog…on credit.
They make enough to make their payments, but things are very tight. They were having serious issues during the summer months when gasoline prices hit their highs and they actually had to use their credit cards to finance gasoline. The gas prices coming down have been a great help, and they will have the computers paid off just after Christmas. But, they are going to need to start paying the home store loan because they didn’t take advantage of the interest free year. But now, they are concerned about the auto manufacturer going out of business or closing more plants, and think that the gov’t needs to bail out the industry. NEWS FLASH***The problem Henry faces have nothing to do with the auto manufacturers, or the UAW, or the state of the economy. He has made his bed here. He believes he is a victim of the economy, the auto industry, and the Bush Administration. He is wrong.
Henry is a victim of himself and his own ignorance. He believes that the auto industry and the UAW put food on his table. That is absurd. HE puts food on his table. There is not a single worker in this country that owes anything to the industry or company they work for except to give a fair, loyal, and honest day’s work every day they show up. The auto industry and the UAW owe him exactly as much as he owes them…NOTHING. Until he realizes that he made the decision to rely on the UAW and his employer for all of his property, he will continue down the same wrong path. It’s as if Henry made himself a slave to his employer. It is a very strange victim mentality that I just have never been able to understand. I have known Henry for a long time and I told him over the past few years that he was making mistakes with all of these purchases knowing the volatile situation of the automakers. His response was unbelievable… “The auto industry can’t go out of business, the gov’t won’t let it…” He may be right about that for now, but our government won’t be able to bail them out more than once.
Just so you know, I’m allowed to hack on Henry because he’s my friend and he is constantly asking my opinion. I help him out when I can, I do his taxes for him and I don’t charge him any fees. Unfortunately, I can’t be there when he goes on his “financing sprees” to be the little angel on his shoulder.
Henry and his neighbor Will have been friends since high school. They both started working at Ford on the exact same day, and they make the same rate per hour. Will is absolutely against any gov’t bailout because he thinks it will force more unnecessary regulations and will force the union and the company into making political favors. Will said he will not feel bad for his fellow workers that weren’t paying attention to the auto industry collapsing while they were over spending. Will and his wife have 3 kids as well, and when she went back to work after the youngest started kindergarten, they behaved a little different than Henry. Will took the money his wife made and paid off both of their cars, and they will have their house paid off by next Christmas-20 years early. They have a 3-month emergency fund saved up, and collectively they make less than Henry and Clara. After their house is paid off, they will have enough money to pay cash for an in-ground pool, or a new TV.
I asked Will if he’s concerned about what will happen if he loses his job. He said he’s not concerned because even if the country moves into a major recession and reaches 15% unemployment, he’s certain that he’ll be part of the 85% still working. “Workers always find a way to work,” Will told me, “victims complain about how they can’t get by on unemployment wages.”
If you find yourself in a similar situation like my friend Henry, you’re not alone. 7 years ago I read a book called Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey. This book changed my life, and it can change yours.