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  • Tuesday, April 05, 2005


    Financial Thoughts

    Our financial lives are intertwined with large institutions. For many reasons we deal with these companies all the time. Debit cards are used for their convenience. Banks store our money and hold mortgages on our homes. We establish credit to be able to buy items we can't afford to purchase in one lump sum.

    The dark side of all these connections is being tangled in a web that often saps our money in a thousand small ways. Fees are almost always inevitable without strict, consistent attention to payments and any alteration of penalty structure.

    The result of this enmeshment is almost utter dependence on the services of corporations skimming interest off our debts and our savings. I don't offer any solution. I'm not entirely sure it's a big problem. U.S. society on the whole seems to accept the tradeoffs as acceptable. Hiding savings in a mattress or a hole in the yard probably isn't such a good idea. Paying cash on the line all the time would be difficult.

    The thing is we seem to have faith in our financial infrastructure for the most part. The great depression of the 1930's is only barely within living memory. The Savings and Loan debacle of the 1980's was bad but still limited. The last decade and more has seen the loss of retirement funds from many corporations. Some companies just go belly up like Enron, leaving people who thought they had savings with none. (Well, Enron isn't the best example what with the crimes of the upper echelon of the company. Come to think of it, perhaps it's a very good example.)

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