Saturday, February 07, 2009

Pax's Cure for What Ails America

OK, you've heard the experts, the folks with MBA's from Harvard, the spin doctors from DC, the talk show hosts ... it seems that everyone has an idea on how to deal with America's financial woes.

Well strap in, bitches, cause now you are going to hear my humble proposals on how we might cure what is ailing this nation of ours.


1: Temporarily Suspend All Consumer Debt: Let's say Joe Blow owes twenty thousand on his credit card. He lost his job, and there is no way he's going to be able to pay what he owes at this time. His choices are nominal at best. He can claim bankruptcy, or maybe try some kind of consumer credit counseling racket. Chances are he will just default, ruin his credit rating, and the company he owes his money to is not going to see a penny they are owed.

I say, the company he owes the money to immediately suspends his account and sets it aside. Upon doing this, no interest is added to the existing debt, and Joe is told that once he gets back on his feet, he will be expected to make good on the debt. HOWEVER, until that time, Joe is not thrown to the wolves. He can hopefully find another source of income, keep food on the family table, and when he starts earning again, he can start to repay THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT HE OWED. It might take the bank several years to recoup, but it's better than selling the debt off and taking a loss, no? See, everybody wins.

2: Make Mortgages and Rents more Affordable:
Let's face it, this is all about greed. Why are landlords able to charge thousands of dollars a month for the rent of an apartment that is the size of a postage stamp? Lower rents to more affordable rates, and you fill up the empty buildings, the landlord has income and people have a place to live.

Same thing with house prices. OK, if you insist on buying a McMansion, well, that's your fault. Why a young couple needs a house that could sleep fifteen is beyond me. HOWEVER, it's an outrage that two bedroom, one bath houses can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. I have a friend who is living in a small condo that is not even as big as my apartment, but his mortgage is causing him to work two jobs .

Again, it's all about greed. Houses have to be priced much more reasonably. Think about it. If house prices fall dramatically, won't more of them be sold?

3: Retail Does not Have to Be 24 / 7: More greed. Why do department stores and malls insist on being open to all hours? There was a time when stores were open in the morning to the late afternoon during the week (with maybe one day a week open till eight or nine), a few hours on Saturday and closed on Sunday. And these stores thrived ... until the late 80's when things changed and retail outlets began staying open later and later. Why does a department store need to be operating at nine thirty pm on a Monday night? No wonder they are all going under. The days of disposable income are long gone; If stores went back to more sensible hours of operation they'd save money on all kinds of incidentals (heating, electricity etc), and maybe even be able to pay their staff a more living wage (or even offer them some much needed benefits).

4: Community Colleges:
I am so glad I don't have children, especially when I hear the college tuition's parents are paying for their little darling to attend some ivy covered institute of higher learning. Funny thing is, when these kids graduate one of two things happen. Either the parents are broke, or the former student is up to his or her ass in loan debt. And then, the kid ends up busing tables or working at a video store because that job on Wall Street they thought they were getting is just not waiting for them.

Save some cash by sending your future care-takers to a community college. For instance, in my neck of the woods, a student can attend Burlington County College for about 1,351.00 (total 14 credit hours a semester) versus a years tuition at say, Bucknell which would cost about 39,000 (and that's not factoring room and board). Since most community colleges are not saddled with dorms, the only real added expense is transportation.

I went to a community college for my first two years, and then moved on to a state college ... and guess what? I make as much as the guy in the next veal pen who has his Masters and is still paying off his student loan well into his late 30's.

5: Stop Being a Consumer: You don't need that new computer, iPod, flat-screen TV, iPhone, or any other sparkly thing being dangled in your face - said item will not make your life better. Suck it up America! Be happy with what you have and refuse to be a mindless consumer. Buy what you need, not what you want. Imagine that!

OK, you've heard my take. How about you? What are your thoughts on the economic state of the country? What do you think should be changed that might help. Tell me! I'll post the best (and worst).

The rest of you, have a nice Saturday.

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