As anyone who might happen upon these digitized thought balloons will quickly discover, they have either nothing, or maybe everything, to do with grilled cheese sandwiches; and most likely never touch on anything relating to cooking or the kitchen... except perhaps, the very first posting. And so, with your indulgence, may I present, the ramblings of a reforming philosopher...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Last night, President Obama and House Leader, John Boehner, went on national television to promote their particular, but conflicting plans to raise the U.S. financial debt ceiling.

According to financial experts, without signed legislation by day's end on Aug. 2, the Treasury will be unable to pay all its bills, possibly triggering an unprecedented default; with the U.S. government technically forfeiting on it's outstanding monetary obligations. Officials warn that the inaction could induce devistating harm to an economy already struggling to recover from the worst recession in decades.

I have no comprehension of the magnitude of the challenge currently before that government, nor do I understand the complexity of the financial wheeling and dealing that most likely goes on behind the scenes in order for the day to day business to take place. However, as my wife and I listened to the two speakers, I couldn't help but note that neither politician was talking about keeping the debt ceiling where it was, or reducing it. Both President Obama and Mr. Boehner appeared to take for granted that the amount needed to be raised; they just differed in their methods to do so.

It is fairly easy for me to understand the need to increase one's borrowing power, particularly when emergencies, or unexpected financial demands appear. I have requested and received a temporary increase in my personal credit limit on at least two occasions that I recall, and have been bailed out with temporary loans and the kindness of others on a few others. However, in those cases, I was also disciplined enough to have the card company lower that limit again once I had corrected for the inbalance, and repaid the outstanding debts. As my income during those times, was pretty much cast in stone, or occasionally non-existant, the only method I had of making the adjustment was to shut down as much non-essential spending as possible and work considerably smarter than before. And, even then, the belt-tightening notched frequently into the essential.
No doubt... that general scenario is rather simplistic when dealing with countries and the complexity of agreements that take place in order to keep their economies functioning. The level of power struggles and ego enhancements for individual and organizational gain within politics obscures the day to day "rent and board" micro issues of the average man. Yet the eventual outcome is bound to affect us all.

U.S. Debt Clock
I suppose that those people whose incomes rank them in the category of the so-called "upper class" may feel immune and considerably above the ramifications of the economic tsunami that will result from the political decisions made within the next few weeks and, like the government, will carry on with business as usual. Unfortunately, history has taught us that the piper must ultimately be paid, and that in this day and age, the payment may be far, far much more than we can afford.

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

- John Donne

It has taken me a number of years and a fair number of mistakes to determine the necessity of even reasonable financial management in order to live a decent, and relatively, stress-free life. Any wisdom I might attribute to any of that success comes from a basic formula catch phrase that I heard several years ago:
"If the outgo is more than the income... then the outcome will be the downfall."

Article Copyright J. Michael Lyffe - 2011

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