Sunday, September 16, 2007

A very good new year's resolution.

I hope everyone had a nice Yom Teruah (Rosh HaShanah) and is having an easy fast today. This is our last 7 days prior to Yom Kippur, and as part of our Teshuvah we may want to consider that paying interest, usury, is something that HaShem has told us to avoid. We have, though, become part of the larger society in that respect - credit cards and loans with usury predominate our simchas, moedim and halacha and this mentality needs to stop, first and foremost.

Secondly, we need to realize that there is no such thing as getting something for nothing. A person who borrows has to be able to produce as much labour and products of real value, not just paper fantasies, as is necessary to repay the loan - plus interest. This is a concept that many people in our community are having trouble with, because they have been falsely taught that if they just study Torah, observe the moedim and various simchas, that money will somehow just fall into their laps. Unfortunately, that is the teaching of a get-something-for-nothing society that is alien to HaShem's teachings and plan for us.

Our goal should be to produce enough income so that we can observe the moedim, the simchas, and the rest of Halacha without going into debt. Right now, very few are doing this, because we have adopted unrealistic expectations and are deep into the sin of living beyond our means (it's called greed, by the way, not to mention bad stewardship). There is no commandment to keep up with the Steins. There is, however, a commandment to repay our debts and avoid borrowing at interest. Therefore this year, especially in light of the dire straights the American economy is about to suffer due, ironically, to disobeying HaShem's laws, we need to resolve to do WHATEVER it takes to get out of debt - even if it means working full time for the year to do so.

Shocking, I know. But studying Torah full or even most of the time is a privilege of those who have been good stewards of their resources and gotten "increase" from their labour. If you're living in debt up to your eyeballs, you have not been a good steward - and bad stewards are not rewarded with free money, period. Money is not going to fall out of the sky - men are responsible for supporting their families with gainful employment. That's reality, and we need to deal with it.

Instead, we have become trapped in the secular debt society. This is a society that feeds off of your livelihood with no remorse, and why we want to continue feeding this monster I can't even fathom. I have link for you today an article which gives some overviews of our debt society and how hard the system works to enslave you with debt. But we are not supposed to be slaves anymore, we are supposed to be free. But we're not free as long as usurers continue to claim larger and larger chunks of our livlihood. We are still slaves.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

The Ministry of Truth, otherwise known at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, tells us that inflation is low to moderate. In fact, inflation is so low all you need to do is purchase 10-year Treasury notes and you’ll be fine. But we do have inflation and this is apparent in the credit markets. We live in a society were folks are forced to go into debt. Instead of addressing our negative savings rate, corporate America decides to create credit products that will put you even further in debt. They use the machines of marketing to subtly make you feel that having 10 credit cards, student loan debt, and steroid induced mortgages is okay. In fact, if you don’t have these products you are some loser flunky that simply doesn’t understand success 2.0 in this country. I’m sure many of you have seen the current spin of advertising. Have you seen the commercials where anyone paying with cash at the mall, fast food store, or ball game is seen as some slow scumbag? The subconscious message is this, “hey, you are a lowlife if you carry infectious cash, pay with a credit card and GET IN LINE!” So what if you want to pay with cash. In fact, you should get kudos for doing this since it demonstrates that you are paying with real world money instead of mortgaging your future for a cup of espresso...


SephardiLady said...

Good post. Living beyond our means is the curse of this generation. Right now we are starting to hear about the parnasah crisis. Imagine when the parents/grandparents get too old to work, what our community could look like.

Ahavah B. said...

I am very much afraid of that day. But it seems even my own frugally raised children are falling prey to the peer pressure - my oldest son is now engaged to be married, and her parents I know cannot afford the big wedding that she wants, neither can we, for that matter. We will help out some, but my husband and I were married in a very simple ceremony and we aren't any less married for it. The companionship of friends and family and simple but ample refreshments were all we had - and it was lovely. My husband cried, even. But kids today are appalled at even suggesting such a thing.

It's some kind of infectious disease, and it's everywhere. And by and large it's not coming from the influence of outside culture, as far as I can tell. It seems to be almost entirely home-grown, and I'm not sure what to do about it. All I can do is plead with people to not bury themselves in usury. But I don't think anyone is listening.