Friday, December 30, 2011

Enough Stupidity to go Around

3 years ago my husband and I were looking to buy a house. The bank had approved us for what we considered an obscene amount of money, but we weren't willing to borrow that much. We knew how much we could afford to spend, which was a little over half of what the bank wanted to loan us. With that in mind we went looking.

Because of the size and various special needs of our family we had very strict requirements for a house. It had to be big; big enough to house 3 generations, and accommodate those of us who work from home. It had to have an efficient kitchen since we have to make almost every single thing we eat from scratch. It also had to have a large enough back yard to put in a larger than average food garden AND an outdoor therapy center, including a special pool.

We didn't care about the things people normally care about when buying a house, like the appointments. We didn't care what color the walls were, what kind of flooring it had, or whether or not the splash boards in the kitchen were pretty enough. These things were all cosmetic and could be changed later. We didn't care if it was landscaped, and in fact, considered it a plus if it had no landscaping of any kind. That way we could start from scratch and wouldn't have to bother with ripping things out to put the things we needed in. 

Knowing we couldn't afford much, we were going for the basics, which would suit us fine.

Our search actually began 5 years ago, but it was 3 years ago that we stumbled upon a house in the northwest Phoenix Valley that had all of our requirements. We looked at the asking price and scoffed. It was waaaaaaay over priced. So we put in our bid... at which point the seller scoffed.  He was actually very rude, and insisted that he was never, ever going to sell the house for such a small tidbit of money. He insisted he was going to make a profit, and at the offer we made he would only break even.

Like I said, that was 3 years ago. This morning I got a notice from his realtor informing me that the asking price of the house had been lowered... to $40k less than what we had offered him 3 years ago. In his email he said he was very excited to inform us of the price reduction on the house we wanted so badly.

Someone needs to grab that boy by the knickers and give him an atomic wedgie to help shove his brains back up into his noggin.

A lot can happen in 3 years. For us, 3 years meant watching our rent go up and up and up, along with our renters insurance. 6 months ago our rent was twice what our mortgage would have been if we had bought that house at the price we offered.

Because we lived in a rental we weren't able to make changes to the house that would have brought our bills down, like a solar hot water heater, which we could have gotten through my husband's work for next to nothing. Our energy bills were outrageous. Because we couldn't plant everything we needed (or even a tenth of it) our grocery bills were through the roof. Our cost of living had grown to twice what our income was, and that was just for the necessities. We were borrowing money every month... every single month... just to get those necessities, while our friends and neighbors complained about not being able to afford the latest greatest car anymore.

To shorten up this tirade... we moved. 5 months ago we folded up and moved back to the old family farm were I spent my younger years. It is not ideal. We have 6 people living in a 2 bedroom house. The property is severely run down and require so much work I get tired just thinking about it. My husband's new job pays half what his old job did, and I don't have as much time to work on my own business as I did living in Phoenix. There's just too much to do. The upside is that we won't have to borrow money very few weeks just to get by. The downside is that we can no longer afford things like site-built houses that are just adequate for our needs.

We will have to put a new house in here, hopefully this summer, but it will probably be a mobile home. We found one that is actually quite nice, but we have to stabilize our income to even consider it.

Now, who do I blame for this mess? Most people would like to blame the banks and government. I'm more practical than that. I blame the multitudes of enormous idiots, like the seller of the house we wanted, who bought up entire streets worth of vacant lots during the height of the housing bubble, filled those streets with houses, and then asked for 3-5 times what they were worth. This is what the moron selling that house did, and he was not a corporation or developer. He was sales manager at a retail outlet. A "regular Joe". One who decided to buy high... and like so many idiots, got stuck selling low.

Here's the deal folks: banks are like grocery stores. If no one is buying a product the store will stop carrying it. The same applies to maxing out massive lines of credit just because you have it. It is the responsibility of the individual to balance his or her own books. You have to be practical in your spending. You do not deserve an attached bath and office nook to your master bedroom just because you're an American. A family that only makes $50k/yr cannot afford season passes to Disneyland. And no, Idiot, you don't get to blame the bank if you spend $30k more per year than you make.

Get a clue, learn to mend your own clothes, plant a seed for your own tomatoes, and wield a paint roller on your own walls. And for the love of all that's real, don't break out your credit cards every time you see something shiny!!

Carry on.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Moral Middle

What is the Moral Middle? It is the overwhelming majority of America. We hardly ever hear about it, however. What we usually hear about are the moral extremes: the conservative and the liberal. But, most people don't actually fit into either of these categories, even when they think they do.  There is usually something, some issue, that they either secretly or openly feel the opposite on. There is almost always some exception.

To understand what the moral middle truly is we must first look at examples of the extremes.

The Liberal

I recently expressed my opinion of Lady Gaga's performance on the 2011 Spring American Idol finale. I thought it was atrocious that this particular performance, which included simulated sex acts, was aired on a TV show watched by millions of children. The choice of venue for this act was wholly and completely inappropriate.

I was immediately attacked for my objections. To date, I've received 131 pieces of hate mail on the topic. What struck me the most was that none of these attackers would even address the issue of showing what amounted to soft porn to children. They wouldn't even touch it. They couldn't. Instead, they attacked me personally. Some called me a hypocrite because they knew I was not a conservative extremist. Others, those who don't know me at all, called me a prude. But, none of them would actually debate the issue.

Children + Porn = NO!

They wouldn't debate the issue because they know they are on the loosing end. They can't call it artistic expression protected by freedom of speech because freedom of speech does not include the corruption of minors. Especially not other people's minor children. Their only defense is to bully and attack the detractor personally in an attempt to redirect the focus so no one remembers what the original issue was. With me that didn't work. Okay, it worked for about 20 minutes. Then I realized what was happening and started shutting these smut peddling morons down.

The Conservative

A friend recently gave me this link to an article on entitled Single Girl. In this article the author advocates marrying girls off when they are still in their teens. Not giving them the option, but forcing them too. This way they'll have a husband to properly guide and discipline them. The author also advocates hitting them to keep them in line. The idea is to marry a girl young, sending her straight from her father's home to her husband's home, and never allow her to live on her own or know anything resembling freedom. That way she'll never miss it.

I would also like to point out that the author decided not to give his or her name. Could it be because the majority of grown men who consider themselves conservative disagree with their archaic view? Probably. That, and he or she didn't want to deal with the inevitable hate mail. Moreover, they don't want to hear the words "Welcome to Islam."

The Moral Middle

Now let's talk about an example of the moral middle. Take your pick, there are hundreds of millions of them in the the United States alone. We call them the Average Joe.

Someone in the middle might call themselves conservative, but not be willing to marry their daughters off at age 13 for "their own good". They may think that their daughters should finish college before getting married, or that it should be their decision if they want to wear pants or a skirt.

Someone in the middle might call themselves a liberal, but be horrified to find their children watching anything with rating over PG13. They may think that marriage is actually a good thing, and that parents should be married. If not to each other, at least to someone.

Someone who is in the middle might have started their young adult life thinking they were liberal, only to have some bad experiences with the liberal extreme and then decided that maybe they were conservative after all. Or, vice versa. Perhaps she is a girl who married young, then decided that was a really bad move. Perhaps she move out of her parents' house immediately after turning 18, fell in with a bad crowd, wound up on drugs, then managed to get clean and sober and turn her life around.

Someone who is in the moral middle might be a single mother whose husband decided he wasn't ready for kids after all and ran out on her.

Someone in the moral middle might be a good, church going man who doesn't make his wife wear a dress all the time, because he wants her to be comfortable.

Someone in the moral middle might be a teacher who claims to be liberal and forward thinking, then upon hearing that one of his former students got pregnant and decided not to get married says, "Well, that's a stupid idea."

Someone in the moral middle is a normal person. A regular person, who doesn't see the world in black and white. Someone who has the intelligence to take each and every individual situation as it comes and not assign a blanket belief that must held to with absolute rigor. They may use the framework of a greater belief, but handle the details in the manner they personally feel is best. They exercise their right to change their minds as new information and experiences are presented. They do not let someone else's rules micro-manage their lives, yet, neither do they throw the rules out.

The majority of America is in the moral middle because we are the sum of our experiences. If we are alive, we are still experiencing... everything.