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Author: imdajunkman Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 35392  
Subject: Net worth and teh Threat of War Date: 1/7/2007 5:38 PM
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I don't remember when I first read YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE. But its message appealed to me. I was a blue-collar worker, struggling to raise a family, one of America's “working poor”, whose household, net worth was bottom tier. Since that time, on wages that never exceed $35,000 per year, I have pulled myself out of poverty, and I reached the “Cross-over Point” of having sufficient investment income so that I no longer “work for the man”.

In fact, I have also reached a second, crossover point of having a 3:1 ratio of incomes to expenses and a net household worth in excess of $500k, which has me bumping up against the rich, which is truly funny. I'm a small-town, blue-collar kid who elbowed his way financially to the supposed top of the heap, and my present life style isn't much different than Henry David Thoreau's, the one person in this country whose wealth I respect.

I did it, but I'm not so stupid as to think that many people can do likewise, which is why Bush's wars infuriate me. $2.2 trillion dollars, all of it borrowed money, would buy a lot of healthcare, education, and infrastructure for this country. To the extent that the US would invest that capital in its own citizens would also be the extent to which their financial burdens would be eased. Instead, they, their children, and their children's children will be required to pay for bombs and bullets that accomplished nothing productive.

That's the important distinction: good debt versus bad debt. Good debt –-e.g., the money needed to start a business or to fund an education-- has a chance of achieving a positive return. Bad debt, which is all money spent on wars and most consumer good or services, is money that offers little positive return. Instead, bad debt just digs the hole deeper, which is why the $2.2 trillion dollar debt for the war infuriates me. Not only does such a debt erode what I have achieved, it places an all but impossible burden on nearly everyone else. How will those war debts be paid for? With ever-inflating dollars that erodes everyone's true net worth. The truly rich will be able to stay ahead of the game, and even the well-off shouldn't suffer much. But the nearly 50% of this country with meager financial reserves will be stressed beyond their capacity to cope with even the modest daily needs of adequate food, shelter, and medical care.

I grew up listening to my parents' stories of the Depression. I grew up reading Steinbeck's tales of the dustbowl migrations. I put myself though collage doing that same sort of agricultural work, working all summer, 12-14 hours/ days, 7 days a week, for $1/hour. That money paid my board, and my tuition was covered by a scholarship. I've made steel. I've repaired ships. I know hard work, and I know poverty, which is not a bad thing. There is nothing shameful about being poor. But there is definitely something shameful and immoral about being made to be poor by the choices of others.

The chattering classes, who worship at the feet of central bankers, all insist there will never be another Great Depression. To which I say: read your history. Empires rise and fall. By the exact same standards with which you manage your own household budget, this country is already bankrupt. It can't pay its debts, and it keeps spending borrowed money. Nobody will have much net worth once the house of cards unravels, which may not be a bad thing, however inconvenient it will be. Net worth isn't genuine wealth, as Thoreau knew so well. But I do grieve that so many will suffer needlessly. Wars waste lives and resources, their and ours. No one wins, except the bankers and the munitions manufacturers.

Charlie



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