I am tired of talking to people who tell me they are ‘broke’ and really don’t know what to do just before they start bragging about their brand new smart phone and the show they love on HBO. Broke? Really? As my father often pointed out during his life; “choices Steve, people have choices and they often make bad ones.” Let me explain.
When I grew up (yes there was running water) not that many years ago we had three TV stations in my house CBS, NBC, and PBS. Once in awhile on Saturdays I could finagle the set to pull in a college football game on ABC but that took real effort and the ability to decipher a game through the ever present ‘snow’ of poor reception. And we only watched PBS if my mother was angry about something. We watched those three stations on a black and white Magnavox and when my dad was around make no mistake I was the remote control. “Steve jump up and put in on CBS, and give me a couple of clicks of volume”. Then we’d sit there and watch Cronkite together. In 1976 we finally got our first color TV. It was something special and it was huge. A 19 inch Zenith! Man we had arrived.
Later that same year we also got another incredible piece of American ingenuity, a microwave oven. My dad began by putting an egg in that ten ton tessie. I laugh today thinking about that egg exploding and my mother coming unglued!
We had simple carpet, drove cars until they were at least 7 years old, had a used 16 foot aluminum boat and I wore Toughskins and Garanimals that my mother bought me at Sears. Once a year my father would rent a cabin up north to go fishing for a week. That was it.
We went out to eat on rare occasions. We always got to pick where we wanted to go on our birthdays and every couple of weeks our mother would ‘treat’ us to McDonalds.
Both of my parents worked; my mother was a school teacher and my father worked for Dow. The bills were always paid and money was never a big issue though we were never rich by any stretch of the imagination.
So lets take a look at what has changed so dramatically since 1976. In our nations BiCentennial year we didn’t have cell phones, cable TV, the internet, home video systems or any of the myriad toys we spend money on today.
My ‘broke’ friends have the following bills to cover each month:
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Cable TV/internet service $100
Cell Phone $200
Bass Boat payment $250
2 car payments $1000
2 color TV’s on credit $200
My grandfather used to ask; “Why the hell would you buy a TV on time? If you can’t afford the TV you don’t buy it.” He was so old fashioned.
And this list is just the beginning of the entertainment driven society we all live in today. Because on top of the monthly load that is for personal entertainment listed above there are also at least 2 vacations each year, Christmas spending that is in my opinion extravagant plus random spending on too many other items to keep up with. The truth is my friends are probably a lot like your friends or maybe even yourself.
We have become an entertainment society where people pay little attention to matters of consequence like the national debt, an invasion of illegal aliens, heroin addiction running rampant, gangs taking over Chicago, Russia and China rising or anything else of significance for that matter. I’d like to point out to these people that being in debt and always being ‘broke’ steals the joy from their lives. Joy does not come from spending more money you do not have on things you do not need.
I have come to sum it up this way: the problem with too many Americans today is they go to jobs they hate, so they can buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t even like!
Like I said I’d like to tell my friends this but tonight ‘their show’ is on TV and after that they are going out for a few beers to watch the ‘big game’ on TV with some of their other ‘broke’ friends.