Tuesday, December 22, 2009



By : Mrs. Georgette F. Dickerson, Esq., Chairperson; Attorney at Law, Standish Savings & Loan Co., Inc. (a leading bank specializing in stable investments), Des Moines, Iowa; University of Minnesota School of Law (J.D. 1982); Senior Actuary, Stickman, Schuhschnurr & Wedgeworth, P.C. (1983-1998); Adviser to the Board, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Missouri (1998-2002); Author, Be Brave--Save, a Best-Selling Financial Management Guide; Lead Consultant, Parents United to Curtail Juvenile Enjoyment (2004-present); Mother of Five.

Our country confronts financial crisis on an unprecedented scale. Both the Federal government and State governments struggle to balance their budgets. Some States--including New York and California--are bankrupt. Unemployment arcs ever higher. Tax revenues are down. Inflation is up. Christmas shopping is off. The dollar's buying power steadily diminishes as foreign currency floods American markets. There appears to be no end in sight, despite President Obama's promise to rescue the economy with "stimulus packages."

We face hard times. We all need to tighten our belts. But there is a reason why our Nation continues to slip into financial ruin: We are spending too much money.

There are two things you can do with money: You can spend it or save it. If you spend money, you ostensibly get something in return. But in almost every case, you wind up suffering a loss. After all, it is simply smarter to hold onto $1,400 than to buy a comfortable new Ottoman for your living room. Additionally, if you buy an Ottoman, you might have a nice piece of new furniture. But you no longer have $1,400 to pay bills and live responsibly. That is why spending money is rarely a smart alternative.

Saving, however, is always a good idea. Rather than indulging on comfortable furniture, you could put that $1,400 in a low-interest-bearing money market account. You could open a trust with diversified, guaranteed holdings. You could put your money to work rather than fritter it away on transient pleasures. That is the smart thing to do. Sure, you might have to continue sitting on a moth-eaten couch rather than a brand new Ottoman. But wouldn’t you rather get some interest back on your $1,400 than merely toss it away for red plush and velvet?

Yet Americans have committed financial sin. For decades, they elected to spend rather than save. For decades, they poured their money into movie houses, car dealerships, grocery stores, jewelry boutiques, home improvement depots and other frivolous retail outlets. They even mortgaged their property in order to get their hands on more cash to spend. In short, Americans engaged in an unbridled spending orgy. They saved nothing. True, they might have enjoyed themselves at the time. But look where they've landed us now--in a depression.

Still, it is no answer to say that Americans like spending money. It is more complicated than that. Spending is a disease. It gives the spender a high. People who spend money lust for the moment they hand over a credit card to some petty sales associate. They want a full shopping bag. They want more and more "stuff." They don't care about the money; they want to feel good about buying things they want. In short, spending is a drug worse than any street narcotic. People squander their whole lives seeking their next spending fix. In the process, they ruin themselves and their families.

We, the Parsimonious Protestant Penny-Pinchers for Anally-Retentive Treasury Management and Financial Discipline in All Things, offer a solution to America's spending addiction: We must stop all spending at once. We will not save this country from financial crisis with "stimulus packages" and "health care bills." Those are just spending orgies on a governmental scale. President Obama gravely erred when he thought he could save America by spending money. Spending money does not solve problems; it just creates more.

We need financial discipline in America. Financial discipline begins with waging war on enjoyment. For far too long, Americans have equated money with pleasure and fun. That is the psychological impetus for dangerous spending. We must begin inculcating financial virtue in every American. We can no longer tolerate unnecessary grocery shopping or gift binging. We must learn to say "No" to the shopping urge. It is time to put away the credit card. It is time to put that money in a bank and scrimp. It is time to forestall enjoyment. It is time to stop having fun. Fun got us in this mess. And as Protestant Penny-Pinchers, we say: "NO MORE."

We would rather have money saved tomorrow than a good time tonight. Our current financial crisis is more than a debate about money. It is also a debate about morality. After all, unchecked spending leads to enjoyment. Unchecked enjoyment leads to gluttony. Gluttony leads to social decay. And social decay destroys empires.

We refuse to allow fun-loving spenders to destroy the country we love. We demand a return our ancestors' financial virtues. Our wise Protestant ancestors did not build the greatest country on earth by buying plasma screen TVs and 24-inch rotating rims for their SUVs. Rather, they wore staid black shawls, scowled all day, worked hard in sparse shops, sang hymns, saved their nickels and had approximately two orgasms per calendar year. Those virtues reflected a commitment to both financial management and healthy living. When our ancestors died, they left behind huge sums in banks, credit bureaus, negotiable instruments and other financial protection devices. Those sums allowed their descendants to capitalize on their hard work, leading the country ever higher. In short, by suppressing enjoyment and saving money, our Protestant forebears built a mighty Nation. They did not enjoy themselves; in fact, they were mean, cold, domineering, loveless tyrants who would have rather died than spend $5.00 extra for anything.

But somehow we lost our way. Now, we want to enjoy our money as soon as we make it. We want video game consoles, huge homes, boats and designer bathrooms. We want Gucci bags, Rolex® watches and useless gold baubles. We even want Dom Peringnon champagne and $500 steak dinners. In short, we want to have a great time before we die.

We have no right to a good time before death. Our insistence on fun has wrecked this country. We have a responsibility to be disciplined. That means we must stop all spending NOW. We must tell our children: "No, you may not have another piece of cake." We must tell ourselves: "No, you may not buy that car." Put simply, we must learn to curtail our corrosive spending urges. Only then will we save this Nation from certain financial doom.

Financial virtue begins at the top. Our government must stop acting like the individual spendthrifts who created the problem in the first place. We will get nowhere by spending money on health care, welfare, the military, green energy, salaries, the postal service and various bureaus. We must halt our dependence on spending. Our Nation has become addicted to spending. We must break the addiction by simply going cold turkey on spending. From now on, our government must hold on to its money. We must learn a new paradigm: "Income good. Spending bad. Saving good." In a word, it's time to start saving, scowling and living totally unfulfilling--but financially disciplined--lives.

If you're disgusted with inefficiency in Washington, put a party in power that will return this country to solvency. If you're sick and tired of runaway spending and decadence, put a party in power that promises saving, not enjoyment. If you care about discipline, virtue and our children, you will vote for Protestant Penny Pinchers. Let us join together to teach our children that spending is evil. Let us learn together that there is joy in saving money and earning interest. We can defeat this economic slump if we commit to reforming ourselves. We can break our addiction to spending if we step back and recognize what is at stake.

We are Americans. We can do without. When we earn a dollar, we can put it straight into a piggy bank, not into a cash register at Best Buy. We can make do with less. If we care about our Nation and our children, we will do the right thing. We will stop enjoying ourselves today. We will stop spending. We can do it. As soon as we become heartless, unhappy, unrequited, coldblooded skinflints, we will know the country is safe from financial catastrophe.

President Obama, not one penny more! We are Protestant Penny-Pinchers. From today on, we refuse to spend a single cent. Saving is better than spending. Because when we save, we win.

Burn your credit card. Stay away from that mall. Ignore your children's pleas for toys. Cook your own meals. Sew your own clothing.

Get disciplined. Stop enjoying yourself. It is the only way to defeat this Depression.

1 comment:

askcherlock said...

I agree the American greed and a hearty need for consumption could well lead to out decline. It is tie to learn the lessons from our near-collapse this past year. Everything in moderation is key, but also must be framed within the context of gluttonous Wall Street Bankers.