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. 

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  1. […] [Technorati] Tag results for credit wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt 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… 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 concer […]

  2. Sugar says:

    I have to say, I think this is my favorite post so far.

    You couldn’t have said it any better: “Workers always find a way to work, victims complain about how they can’t get by on unemployment wages.”

  3. Wired says:

    I think there are probably more financially over-extended Americans than we’d like to believe. That’s one side of it. Here are a few other thoughts. You may not like your job, but be glad you have one. And work your butt off to keep it. Or, get a job that is OK for now; because trends would show you that it is somewhat easier to find a job when you already have one. There are a lot of people that want to be victims out there. It ranges from being lazy to being litigious. As a side note, I could probably write a book about the general decline of society. There lies a lot of the problems.

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  5. Zig says:

    I think it’s important not to carry a lot of debt, but when one let’s their debts rule thier life they aren’t living a well balanced life. Henry is not right and neither is Will. I am not a victim. I have debts. I have credit cards, on which I occassionally carry balances. I have a nice house. I have two very nice cars. I have a wife. I have a job. My wife has a job. I would guess that my situation is pretty common to other reader’s on this blog.

    However, we do not go crazy on gadgets and we bought a newly constructed house so we don’t really need to worry about structural upkeep. I believe that one’s debt level is relative. Some people can handle dealing with debt. I have always been tought, by my parents, that being able to handle constructive debt well is one of the characteristics of an adult living in a society.

    I believe that if one needs to find out how to live your life from a book, something major is or was missing in their life. It’s almost like this NeoCon Don guy was raised by The Socialists he so fervently denounces!

  6. Ralph says:

    I think this was well written NeoConDon. I feel bad for the person this entry was about. Sounds like he doesn’t understand what’s ahead for him.

  7. Tristan says:

    I am of the opinion that handouts and entitlements are a major contributing factor to the financial irresponsibility that is typical in our nation, so I am never surprised to hear when a person is a slave to debt. Actually, every one of us is, at a federal level. However, I applaud Don for finding personal freedom from debt for his own peace of mind and must say I don’t understand how his reading a book can possibly be the target of an insult…

    That being said, while I think a debt free or minimal debt lifestyle is great, I also think that unsound fiscal policies make this less than ideal and encourage us to use considerable debt. Our current economic climate is accelerating this, unfortunately. Our savings rate as individuals is so low because holding currency is a liability. Since the only purpose of currency is as a medium of exchange for goods and services and because it loses value with time, we are encouraged to save as little as possible. Basically, it makes more sense to finance a purchase than it does to pay cash.

    Say I want to purchase a plush new chair to sit in and think about how to get rid of my cash. I can finance it for $1200 today, interest free for a year, and make payments of $100/mo, all the while enjoying the benefit of sitting in this lovely piece of furniture; or I can start saving. If I save $100/mo, by the time I save $1200 and go to purchase the chair, the price will have increased, probably to $1300 or more in today’s economy. Not only will I have gone a whole year without enjoying that plush leather, I will also have to pay more for the pleasure of it.

    This is an overly-simplified scenario, of course, but it illustrates that unsound money manifests less conservative financial practices among otherwise intelligent individuals. You can sit on cash and worry about its devaluation or you can sit on debt and worry about paying it back. Sound money is the only way to get peace of mind from both.

    In the meantime, I’ll gladly take advantage of credit so long as my net assets are in the black and the interest rate is less than the rate of currency inflation–0% interest is particularly hard to ignore with inflation approaching double digits.

  8. Sugar says:

    I believe a big problem with today’s spending is:

    Do I want it OR Do I need it

    You need a car to get you to and from work. You need a roof over your head. You need groceries in the refridgerator.

    Do you need that flat screen plasma tv? Does your spouse need that extra jewlry?

    Sure, I want a lot of things, but I’m not going to put myself into debt to obtain them. It would be nice to have a lot of extras, but it’s not in the cards right now.

  9. NeoConDon says:

    You make some excellent points Tristan, and assuming we’re looking at a single $1200 purchase by a responsible person, there is nothing wrong with using credit to save a buck or two.

    But, there are several things that are not being thought about by most borrowers…The first is LOGIC. In my opinion, it is not logical for someone who is so unfortunate in their financial situation that they do not have an extra $1200 to purchase a chair (or several pieces of furniture.)…or that they lack the ability to plan for such a purchase. If someone is in such financial dispair that they can’t afford to buy a $1200 chair, perhaps they should consider buying something they can afford. WHY? Because the other part of the formula that is usually never considered is RISK. Most furniture financing companies use the 12 months no payments/no interest as a method to collect interest. In most cases, that means you have the choice between EITHER no payments or no interest over 12 months. If you do not pay off the furniture, you begin paying this debt off like a 36% interest credit card, and that means TONS of extra cash for the furniture companies. No one ever knows what life will bring, and a person is much better off owning something than making payments on something. By going into debt, they are taking a risk by assuming their situation will be as good or better than it is today.

    In the end, the self made millionaires do not borrow money. Another wonderful book is “The Millionaire Next Door.”

    But I guess that my point here wasn’t specifically to explain the importance of responsible buying and borrowing practices since that is relative to the specific situation of the borrower. My point was to outline the importance of why someone that has been so irresponsible (like my friend Henry) should not be bailed out–he should be allowed to fail. Otherwise, how will he learn from his mistake?…The greatest inventions were born from failure, and until you make a mistake and try something new to achieve success, you will likely never learn how to be successful. It is certainly not very proper to force other responsible and successful taxpayers (like myself) to finance his mistake of over-borrowing, over buying, and then blaming everyone but him self when he can’t make his payments.

    That is the basic premise of the argument against liberalism. Liberals walk around talking about “affordable healthcare, affordable college costs, affordable housing.” Everyone wants things to be affordable, but at what cost? I have 4 children, and I don’t think it is fair for people without children to be taxed to send them to school, or help pay for a bigger house. My wife and I made the decision to have 4 children, and we made sure we could afford it before we decided to have them.

    Anything in moderation is good…even debt. But Henry needs to crash and burn. Otherwise his children will be forced into the same pattern of slavery as he finds himself in…except they’ll become a slave to a socialist government.

  10. Zig says:

    “…except they’ll become a slave to a socialist government.” What??? I was enjoying reading your writing about how to become a millionaire… But, you had to go with the whole “liberals are bad and will steal your money, because they smoke pot, have kids out of wedlock and don’t pay their bills” agenda. That is really to bad, because you don’t know of what you speak. Last time I looked it was your party, the Republicans, who are kneeling (and bobing) to the failed bankers. They are promoting failure! And then whata you know…here comes Citibank trying to get back on the government Teet, trying to make room at he government money trough!

    I have to agree with you though. Anyone who doesn’t have moderate savings (backdrop) is destined to fail. Sorry, Tristan! You don’t understand money, budgeting or how to use credit wisely.

  11. NeoConDon says:

    George Bush is a liberal, so of course he’s in favor of the bailouts…just like Obama and Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of the liberals that rule Washington. I’m not talking about political parties. Please go read a few books so you can understand the basic ideas of political theory. At least learn the difference between a capitalist, a socialist, and an communist…it will help with your “arguments.”

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