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The Basics of Life Still Rule

The cause of the American money mess is because the credit card companies have encouraged us to buy things we don't need with money we don't have. The result is the domino effect. The cardholder gets more than he/she can pay for, the banks don't get paid, then you have a traffic jam at the credit market and on jobs. Everybody is trying to unload debt so they can make more debt. No one can move. Bankruptcy courts fill up to catch the overflowing debt, and on the jobs the ones who got hired last get fired first, and we all know who that is. America caught an economic cold and Black America caught economic pneumonia.

Nothing has changed. The rich got richer with a bail out and the poor pay higher prices and taxes to cover the bail of the rich. In slavery days it was said simpler, "naught's a naught, figger's a figger, all for the white man and none for the n----r." Nothing's changed. Somewhere in my life I heard rules like, "If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is too good to be true." When the phone is ringing off the hook with people trying to sell you something better than you have, like a mortgage or a telephone system for less, then you need to resist. The ones who resisted the too-good-to-be-true deals seem to be the survivors in the current economic mess.

The people who kept with the basics are also okay. The others are working hard to live large. This is shown by the fact that a large pert of our income goes for things that we don't need but think we must have. The funny thing is that when the hammer drops and there is a reduction of income we all learn a new set of rules to live by. Instead of needing to go to Starbucks for our daily coffee, we need to return to the coffee maker in the kitchen and make our own. Instead of needing to eat out five times a week, we need to revisit the art of cooking, and the value of leftovers, and the art making sandwiches at home, and packing a lunch. When the job is lost we need to remember the skill of cutting the lawn and trimming the hedges ourselves. Besides, that is good exercise. It helps me to keep my weight down.

Financial experts say that your rent or mortgage should not be more than 1/3 of your income. So why were people buying and renting houses at 50 percent  to 75 percent of their monthly income? A car should not cost more than your house per month, and the car should not be bigger than your house or apartment. What goes up must come down, especially if it rises too fast, like your standard of living.

When American cost of living rose so high that it now takes two salaries to survive, there is a problem. What that really means is that it takes two salaries to live to "keep up with the Joneses." My mother taught us that we were the Joneses, and we lived on what we could afford, even if it means buying from a second hand store. Funny thing is that if an item is called antique, rather than second hand or used, it's Ok. So if you need a new sofa, or a stove, or whatever else in these hard times, don't forget second hand stores. Call it an antique, or call it Vintage if you need to. "Don't let money burn a hole in your pocket" was another saying my folks taught me. "Save something." "Remember, if you got a dollar in your pocket you've got a friend," my mother used to say. When I say what goes up must come down, I'm thinking about preparing for tomorrow. Young people are going to get old and if they prepare for tomorrow they will be Ok.

My Dad wasn't educated, and he never earned much money. But he knew that he was not going to be able to work always. The Bible says, "work while it is day." It's daytime when you are young. Daddy paid for our house before he could no longer work. He got sick and died living in his fully paid for house, as did my mother. What if he had gotten loans to buy frivolous things when he started to get old and then he could no longer work? Bye, bye house. He bought that house in 1956. He's gone now, but the house is still in the family. The Hopkins' will always have a place to live if they need to have a place.

Daddy set the example and his children have followed his example and all have houses. I guess the young folks call that old style. Well, call me old style.