Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Less is More

I was driving home from a lovely breakfast with my brother, sister-in-law, and their kids this morning, listening to NPR broadcast at length about our culture's propensity to incur personal debt, and I found myself getting more and more disgusted. I don't get it. These call-in listeners were all complaining about how they'd gotten themselves into thousands upon thousands of dollars of debt and couldn't understand why.

Ok people. Here's how money works. If you have it, you can spend it. If you don't, you can't. Simple. It's basic math. And if you're in debt. Stop spending, and start putting that money towards your debt. Why is this concept so damned hard for people in this country to understand? Are we so wrapped up in our consumerist culture that basic concepts elude us? And are we so consumed with living a lifestyle we can't afford just to keep up appearances that we're willing to destroy ourselves financially?

People were calling in, some on the verge of tears, complaining about how they can't seem to get themselves out of debt. In the meantime, they're calling from their state of the art cell phones, while driving their Cadillac Escalades on their way to their receptionist jobs. Now granted, I've been out of the workforce for almost three years now, but last I checked, a receptionist, even in the most upscale of offices, pays only slightly more than a stay-at-home-mom.

And the same holds true for dieting. I'm so tired of hearing people complain about not being able to lose weight. I myself was on weight watchers 4 years ago after gaining 25 pounds. The concepts were basic; eat well, eat just enough to feed your body, and exercise. It works. There's no magic bullet or wonder drug or undiscovered truth about it. It is what it is.

And yet, our culture still seeks out miracle cures for our indulgences. Are we that delusional or that arrogant to think that we're above the basic laws of science and nature? And at what point are we just going to have some culpability for our actions and say, "Wow, I'm in a lot of debt and I'm a huge, fat cow. Maybe I shouldn't drive my gas-guzzling monstrosity of a car to the most expensive restaurant in town tonight and stuff myself with beef wellington and chocolate cake." As I always say, life is about choices and consequences. If you don't like the set of consequences that comes with one choice, choose another....and save the chocolate cake for special occasions while you're at it.

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