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Archive for the ‘economy’ Category

We looked at furniture recently – just to get an idea of what was available and price.  While looking at one store, we were told that there are only TWO furniture manufacturers left in the US.  Everything else is made overseas and shipped in.

We were disappointed in the selection available – everything was leather or microsuede.  The salesman said that they have manufactured furniture that is “universal” so that it can be shipped to Russia, the US, or wherever.

My concern is this – what do we make anymore?

(Bad decisions on the part of our elected officials doesn’t count here.)

We have become a nation of consumers, not manufacturers.

I have started paying attention, and it’s hard to find things MADE IN THE USA.  Items made in China may be cheaper, but they have put Americans out of work, not to mention the quality of items is horrible.  I blame myself just as much as everyone else.  Too often I have purchased based on price alone instead of thinking about what our money is supporting.

The question is – what do we do about it?

For myself, I am trying to make a concerted effort to buy items made here in the US.  With all of us pinching pennies, it’s not always easy.  I worry about what we will do when we no longer grow our own food (we are dangerously close to this already).

Will we become a Third World Country and other nations have to ship relief aid to us?

This has not happened overnight – it has taken decades of this slowly creeping into our way of life.  Pay attention to what you spend your hard earned money on.

Otherwise we may all be buying CDs to learn how to speak Chinese.

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As in, have we hit bottom yet?  I don’t think so based on lots of late night, bleary-eyed searches on the internet.  I heard this morning on the news that GM will need another $70 BILLION dollars in help before this is all said and done.

At what point is it enough?

I’ve been pondering a post about this for a while.  Granted, this is a layman’s point of view – I am not an economist, nor do I play one on tv, but I do pay attention to what’s going on in the world around me.

I realize there are a lot of factors at work here leading up to the economic mess we are in today.  However, there was a tipping point last year that was very clear from my perspective – the point at which consumers literally came to a crossroads and had to make some tough decisions.

What was that tipping point?  Gas prices.

When gas prices rose to almost $4 a gallon (and higher in some parts of the country), consumers literally had to decide between paying their mortgages and putting gas in their vehicles and food on their tables.  I know it put a serious dent in our budget, along with everyone else we know.

At that same time, food prices started rising, and have never come back down.  Gas eventually fell lower than I thought I’d ever see again in my lifetime, but food prices are continuing to go up.  More on that in a minute.

Now this isn’t rocket science – everyone can see when a family is stretched thin financially, it doesn’t take much for the house of cards to come tumbling down.  As people struggled to pay for food and gas, slipped behind on their mortgage payments and other bills, it publicly unearthed some very serious flaws with our financial system here in the US.

People borrowed money to pay for houses and cars they knew they couldn’t afford.  Greedy bankers eagerly loaned them the money knowing they wouldn’t be able to make the payments.  Some of the older folks have a saying for this – it’s called, “where two fools met.”  Banks did unspeakable things with volatile  loans – packaging them into bundles and selling them off to other companies, knowing it was just a matter of time before it all came to a head.

But there is a bigger problem at work here.  Corruption on levels previously unheard of within our political AND economic system.  Congressmen have their fingers in this mess, are hugely responsible for what has happened, yet they try to blame the companies when THEY are the ones who voted for deregulation, bailouts, and lots of sweet perks while patting themselves on the back for what a good job they did.

All of this “bailout” money that was supposed to solve our financial problems hasn’t done a thing – I can’t tell anything is any better, can you?  Companies are still laying off, people are still losing their homes, and families are still struggling to make ends meet.  People who have worked hard all of their lives for what they have are losing everything they own.  Yet the government is still printing money left and right, and guess who’s paying for all of these corporate bailouts?  Yep – the American taxpayers.

As previously mentioned, food prices continue to rise, and there is every indication they will continue to do so.  We have fewer and fewer farmers every year.  We are importing food at a never seen before rate, and are rapidly descending into a deeper abyss than ever imagined.

We personally know many families where someone has been laid off.  My husband is still working (thankfully), but his hours have been cut due to the slowdown.  If it hasn’t hit your home yet, be thankful – it’s a matter of time before it does.

An elder at our church told me recently that I had “lived the best years of my life already”.  It was a sobering statement.  I agree with him completely – I cannot see any way things will right themselves within my lifetime.

I encourage you to vote with your feet if you live in a state where they are continuing to pile on more taxes.  There are 50 states in this Union, and there are surely other places to live where freedom to use your money as YOU see fit still exists.   VOTE THEM OUT when the 2010 elections come up.

Our freedoms are not free – they have been bought with a price.  Our very way of life is at stake.

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