I have a confession to make. I am crap with money. No matter how hard I try, I am unable to manage my finances.
This has been a huge source of frustration for me - if not shame. Somehow I feel that I am a failure as an adult and as a man because I always seem to be in some sort of financial crisis and never at any form of ease.
There was a brief time when this was different. Then, money seemed to be no problem. Whatever I wanted was available. All I had to do was to go and shop. What had happened was that I had accepted some offers from banks and got myself some credit cards. It seemed miraculous. No sooner had i reached the credit limit when it was increased. So I continued to spend - not really thinking of consequences. Which of course there were- my debt increased and eventually I could not meet the minimum monthly payments. The answer was simple - I got another credit card. And so it goes.
Eventually, this got out of control and I was faced with a debt I could not pay. Letters were left unopened and I began to ignore the ringing telephone. Every night my heart would beat faster and I would begin to sweat as the phone rang and I feared to answer. Stress rose. I wanted to scream. There seemed to be no way out. It was all falling apart.
I sometimes answered the phone and would make some sort of promise. This kept things easier for a while until the arrangement became untenable. Then the process of ignoring the telephone would recommence. And then, my mother died and eventually, after the estate was settled, I was able to pay off the bulk of the debt. Things then got easier but my mental health was definitely far from perfect.
This was all my fault - I knew that. I had made the applications and I had accepted the terms and conditions. There is no such thing as free money and eventually I had to accept the consequences. I am still accepting them.
I was thinking about all this recently and realised that my weakness or sickness was not unique. There were many iwho shared it. And foremost among them were the very people who had been so keen to lend me money. The banks. Somewhere in the insanity of Feldmanite economics there had arisen the belief that money had some sort of intrinsic value - that all that had to be done is to keep the money moving and at each point in that movement there was an increase in value. The economy was no longer goods-based but money based. Goods were things that were made elsewhere, in China for example, and wealth depended on the manipulation of money and the production of nothing.
It was a house of cards. For me it collapsed about three years ago. For the banks the awakening has been more recent. And now, the depression that assailed me seems to be merely a small forerunner of a global depression whose effects are as yet unknown. And I have realised that my behaviour is the exact mirror image of the bankers. I was the customer they sought. The first hint of this came a while ago when it was announced that credit facilities were being withdrawn from those who paid their debts before interest became due. The banks did not want customers who were disciplined and thrifty. They wanted people like me. We paid their hefty bonuses.
When the inevitable crash came, however, did those who had blown this bubble have to lose their huge assets, as I had had to lose my inheritance? No. Governments stepped in and gave untold billions to them. And meanwhile, repossessions and redundancies escalate. A few billionaires are prosecuted but many more simply bask in the sun while communities die. And the politicians who were in bed with them - who swallowed the Chicago school doctrine of licensed criminality - among them the Reagans and the Clintons and the Thatchers, the Blairs and, latterly and most nakedly blatant, the Bushes and the Cheneys - escape any sort of penalty for their irresponsible and often criminal complicity with the corrupt and venal financial institutions whom they are now bailing out by mortgaging my grandchildren's future.
I fully and openly confess my own financial ineptitude and irresponsibility. But my behaviour was, in reality, the behaviour that the system depended upon. It depended on people borrowing more than they could really afford. But it, just like I, got a little bit too greedy. And now the global house of cards has collapsed. And the major victims will be the thrifty and the trusting. I have no assets to lose.
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