Home > money, motherhood, philosophy, Politics, poor baby > An ant to all those grasshoppers: F*CK YOU!

An ant to all those grasshoppers: F*CK YOU!

I know that the issues are more complicated than I’m about to make them. I understand the power of predatory lending and marketing, I know that very few people thought, “Hey! Let’s run up some huge unpayble credit card bills int he hopes that the government will do stuff to make our lives better at the expense of those who really work hard.” I know that we live in a toxic culture that values stuff and devalues savings, that pushes instant gratification and mocks thinking ahead. And yet I’m pissed.

As I was taking The Child to school yesterday, I was listening to NPR do an “economics lesson” with Greg Ip, economics editor for The Economist. I’m not sure I agree with everything he said, but I was an English major who didn’t even know where the economics building was in my college, so my opinion isn’t terribly informed. But one thing he said was obviously true and made me so angry I nearly ran off the road.

“Interest rates are like the price of money,” he said (I’m trying to quote to the best of my abilities, but it’s likely inexact.) “When the Fed pushes down interest rates, then someone who has money to lend, like someone who has money saved in a c.d., winds up a loser. That’s just a cold hard reality. Do you want the Fed to raise interest rates just to would reward those few savers but tank the economy for everyone else?”

Well, yes! Yes, I do. And fuck you!

We have tried so hard to scrape and save every dime and dollar. (Okay, The Husband has done most of it….) To keep within our budget, we have a ten year old computer, I own just three pairs of shoes, and the only vacation we’ve taken in the past five years was a driving trip to D.C., where we stayed in a tiny hotel room outside of the city. We buy local food and books, because that’s the right thing to do, and because they cost more, we scrimp everywhere else to make up for it.

We’ve cut our budget to the bone to put money aside for college for The Child. She’d got a nice little nest egg right now… $4k. Not a lot, but not bad, all in all, for a three-year-old with an at-home mom living in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S.

But because the Fed is squashing interest rates to save corporate America and all those big spenders out there, the Child’s college account earns less money in interest than she makes finding loose change on the ground. Literally. Her $4,000 earns 25 cents in interest each month. And she finds at least one penny on the ground every day — sometimes dimes and nickels. Even in February, she still earns more!

And, here’s the kicker: We’re going to bust our asses to save money for The Child to go to college. And there’s a pretty good chance that little Emma down the street, whose parents bought the fancy shoes and went to Europe and had the latest in computers, will get financial aid because her parents don’t have anything in savings while my child will have to pay her way in full because we did save.

Like I said, I get that this is more complex than I’m making it. I get that I benefit from living in an affluent society instead of a depressed one. I understand that societies don’t work without social nets. I even know that the healthy people who pay into whatever stupid fucking health insurance I have will probably be cussing me out in ten years when I come down with diabetes or something. (Not that they aren’t reaming us up the ass for health insurance.)

But I can’t help but remember back in high school when I’d get a 97% on a test and everyone else would get a 63% and the teacher would “throw out the outliers” and then grade on a curve. Suddenly, all the idiots who didn’t understand the material would have a B grade and my A grade would look a lot less impressive.

And somehow, on those few tests when I totally botched the material, there were no curves. Just a big fat C for me.

Here endeth the rant.

  1. June 18, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Amen! I feel the same way. I have avoided nearly all credit card debt and paid what I had in full. The idea that some idiot (that makes more than my family anyway) ran up too much debt and could get bailed out makes me insane! How do I teach my children the value of thriftiness and saving when this is the climate they are growing up in?
    Great blog, by the way!

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