Thursday, May 11, 2006

Brutally Honest Rant - 05/10/06

Brutally Honest Audio Rant: A Matter Of Money
Audio Transcripts

[Start Program]

(Computer – Introduction)
(Music intro – "American Idiot Remix" – by Green Day and David Matthews 2)

Good evening, and welcome to this week’s Brutally Honest Rant. I’m David Matthews 2, writer of the weekly online column Brutally Honest.

I have a simple question for you tonight… one that seems simple to answer, but not one that people really put too much thought into.

Where does your money come from?

I’m not asking that to toss out some grandiose conspiracy theory about the kind of money you get or how much it’s worth or anything like that. Like I said, it’s a simple question. Where does your money come from?

Are you a student? Do you work, or does mommy and daddy pay your way?

Are you a Stepford Pod Person living out there in suburbia, terrorizing other drivers in your urban assault vehicle as you haul your kids around town? Well then what does your spouse do for a living?

Are you retired? How did you get your retirement money? Save up over the years? 401K program?

Are you a trust fund baby? Who gave you that trust fund?

Do you work for a living? Who do you work for? Most of you do work for a living. Who’s your boss? What’s your job? How does your workplace get its money?

You see… it’s a simple question, but it’s also one that we quite often forget about.

Back when I lived in New Hampshire, I attended a local school board meeting. Now in New Hampshire, local school boards are really public forums in the true democratic way. The school board doesn’t vote on the budget… the citizens do! And at this special meeting, the vote was about whether or not the taxpayers should fund this HUGE school expansion project. Now as a taxpayer and as a registered voter, I was well within my rights to vote, and I did. I voted AGAINST the proposed HUGE expansion project in favor of a limited one, because I knew back then that the economy was about to sour for the area and it wouldn’t be worth burdening the taxpayers when they wouldn’t be able to afford it. Turned out I was right… again… but the people who attended still voted overwhelmingly for that expensive expansion project.

And it was at that time that I noticed that a good number the people who were strong proponents for this huge expanded project that got passed had one thing in common with each other… they all were apartment dwellers. These were people who didn’t own a house! Meanwhile, a good number of people who spoke out against the really expensive project, or who – like me – wanted to pass the alternative program, pretty much had one thing in common too. They were people who owned houses. They owned property. Mind you, I didn’t own a house at the time, but my parents did, so I knew why it was important.

Now, why does this matter? Because the money for this project was collected through property taxes. If you owned land in that school district, then you ended up getting taxed to high heaven to pay for this project and for all of the other school-related budgeted activities. BUT, of course, if your don’t own a house in the school district, then you can vote for any kind of budget you want and it doesn’t affect YOU any because you don’t have to pay for it!

You see, that’s when I began to notice this problem people seem to have with money. There seems to be this general disconnect when it comes to dealing with money, and it has to do with how people see where the money comes from.

Take, for instance, the government. Federal, state, or local - it really doesn’t matter - they all seem to spend tax money like there’s no tomorrow. You have all sorts of programs that get proposed and passed without so much as a second thought, and that’s especially true with the federal government. There are so-called "emergency spending bills" that get proposed that are loaded up with so much damned PORK that can’t even justify "emergency spending". And if you were to look at each of these pork programs one at a time, you’d find the same justification for each of them. "Well, it’s ONLY a couple of million dollars… we can afford a couple of million dollars! We’re spending $100 MILLION on this emergency project, so we can afford an extra million or two for my ego-gratifying project!" And they’ll say that every time with a wink and a smile because THEY KNOW PRECISELY where the money comes from… or in their case, where the money DOESN’T come from… which is their own pocket. No, they KNOW that by hook or by crook, they’ll find a way to TAX the crap out of us, because THAT is where there money comes from!

I’ve got news for you folks… every penny that comes out of your paycheck TODAY is paying for taxes that were already allocated and spent by Congress YEARS AGO! And it doesn’t matter which political party is to blame for it, because both the Democrats AND the Republicans are forever damnably guilty of doing this! And we’ll allow it because we’re so caught up in the spending and blaming other people for it that we don’t realize just where the money comes from!

Here’s a great example: windfall profits tax and corporate taxes and all of these other taxes meant to supposedly "punish the rich". And THAT IS what these kinds of taxes are… they written by, designed, and enacted on the pretext of PUNISHING wealthy people. So WHERE do these corporations get their money? It just doesn’t magically appear out of thin air. Every penny that they get comes, in one way or another, from US. And like everything else that they have to pay for, taxes are nothing more than an expenditure in the business world. It’s overhead. It gets paid for with the money that their business brings in… which comes from US. In other words, people, WE end up paying those taxes FOR them through the higher prices on goods and services.

Didn’t think about that, did you? Probably not.

Where does your money come from?

That’s a really great question to ask, especially when it comes to the job market.

You ever see a town slowly die? I have. It’s not a pretty sight. Half-constructed buildings litter the local highways; all work stopped because the deal fell through on it. The local mall suddenly losing anchor stores one after another. BUT the town idiots are happy, because they just opened up a Waffle House restaurant! Isn’t that special? They’ll have JOBS! And a new mini-mall just opened up with the fourteenth nail salon and video rental store that won’t last six months. Sure all of those factory workers have been out of luck for five years, but, hey, we need greeters at the new Wal-Mart that just opened up! There are some seriously delusional little pissant politicians who get themselves all excited without ever realizing that the businesses that REALLY bring in the money for the community are gone and they won’t be coming back. And all of these other little businesses that are coming in are dependent on the money generated from the industries, which is why those little stores won’t last but for a year or two without that needed income.

Where does your money come from?

You know which group has this problem? Unions! Here’s a group of people who are obsessed with one thing: making sure that employees get as much money and as many employee perks as possible. And if it drives a company into bankruptcy or worse? Too bad! Not THEIR problem! It’s not their problem to worry about where the money comes from! They just want to make sure the employees will get as much as possible and to hell with the consequences.

Remember that school board meeting I went to? The other people who really, REALLY wanted that huge expensive expansion project were the teachers. And they didn’t care how much it cost. They didn’t care because they didn’t have to worry about where the money came from.

Fast-forward to today. The Fulton County School Board just authorized a serious hit on property taxes here in the Atlanta area, even though student enrollment for the whole county is FALLING. But the teachers unions don’t care! Why should they? They don’t have to worry about where the money comes from! They just dictate to the county to pay up.

Where does your money come from?

The medical community has this problem in SPADES. They’ll hit you up with every possible test and every possible procedure because THEY KNOW that someone will pay for it. It may not be you. It may be someone else. That’s why the cost of prescription drugs is so high. They know that SOMEONE will pay for it, no matter how much it costs. Nine times out of ten, it’s an insurance company. But they gotta get that money from somewhere, right? Guess where THAT money comes from? It comes from the rest of us. That’s why health insurance costs also climb higher and higher. The medical community doesn’t care where the money comes from, and the pharmaceuticals don’t care where the money comes from, and the insurance companies will be happy to pay for it but only if they can pass that cost on to the rest of US… because THAT is where THEY get their money from!

Let’s get brutally honest here… we have a general disconnect with money because in too many instances we fail to ask ourselves that one simple question. We lose sight of where the money comes from and that’s when we get into trouble.

Take a look at your own lives. Take a look at your own expenses. How many of you have simply gone spend-crazy? I mean just go to the store or just go online shopping and just rack things up on the credit card and then feel really guilty about it later on. Trust me, I’ve done it too, and it really hurt me. Sure it’s a compulsion. But what happens at that point? You’re not thinking about where the money will come from for it.

And credit cards just make that situation that much worse because you’re thinking you have all of this extra money that you don’t have to pay for right now, only to find out later on that you WILL have to pay for it… and with interest.

Listen, folks, the only way we can be truly responsible for our own lives is to keep track of where our money comes from. This is a lesson that I that had to learn the hard way, and so do a lot of other people. We cannot afford to simply say "let someone else pay for it" or just not worry about where the money will come for it.

Trust me, whenever we do that, whenever we lose track of where our money comes from, that’s when we get SCREWED.

(Computer – a light mix of sounds, but you still have to hear them to appreciate them.)
(Fade Music In – "Flawed Legacy" by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori)

I have an interesting little story about this subject. My parents have been together for forty years now, and for the longest time, my mom was the one that handled all of the expenses. My father would be somewhat generous about things, while my mom was a bit of a penny-pincher. I mean, it wasn’t easy for my father at the time either, because there were plenty of times when he had to work five jobs, but there were also plenty of times when he simply splurged on my sister and I. He wasn’t above simply saying "hey, let’s go to Panama City for the day" or "hey, let’s go out to eat."

Then, a few years ago, my parents changed roles. My father would handle the bills and the expenses. And suddenly everything is about the money for my father, while my mom would suddenly decide to take trips.

You can probably guess what happened, right? It was at that point that my father realized just where the money came from. And that’s what happens when you have to keep track of the bills, folks. That’s when you start to be a little more responsible for how the money is spent.


Brutally Honest is a Get Brutal production, all opinions expressed are those of the commentator, and may or may not be shared by the online provider. This is David Matthews 2 saying good night, and I’ll speak with you soon!

(Fade out)
(Computer – Ending/"End of Recording")

[End of program]

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