Land of the Free, Home of the Slave
Posted by: ManAgainstDebt
On my Facebook page where many of this site’s visitors come from, I recently made a comparison between the wealth of someone living in a “3rd world country” (developing nation) and the supposed wealth many of us have here in the US. Well since this is such an important part of what we’re trying to teach everyone on this site and since many of you didn’t understand just how I could make such a comparison, we’re going to need to clear this up now. The truth is that, while yes, someone with low debt and living check to check in a third world country is still considered to be living in poverty, someone making it from check to TWO YEARS AGO’s check is in even worse poverty.
“But how could I be worse off especially if I live in a fancy house and drive a fancy car while they live in a hut with 10 kids?”
First, let’s be clear: the term “poverty” refers to both the actual economic resources one has available along with the mentality of the person holding these resources. When everything else financially is equal yet you surpass the person from a third world country by being utterly clueless and maintaining a broke mentality….yes you my friend are worse off.
See, you’re missing the fundamental point of why you are living in America and why you’re out telling the world that you live in a free country every chance you get. When you are addicted to credit and have amassed a mountain of debt like the majority of Americans,then you have no freedom. You are a slave to always having to create the means to pay for material items that don’t even bring you happiness just to keep up with the jones. You are forced to work at a job you hate making half of what you’ve already spent. You’re forced to think about doing illegal or immoral things and forced to borrow from your parents who may have even less than you. This is not freedom. You are a slave. But what may amaze you is that your life doesn’t even have to be this way.
Happiness & The Joneses
The reason most of us believe that we have to owe someone to be successful in life is because we’ve been force-fed the idea that the things we buy, bring us lasting happiness. Especially if they allow us to outpace the Jones. I mean at the end of the day, that’s what this is all about right? Success means happiness and the first one to lasting happiness wins!
In a recent Adbusters article, the author Ian Bullock writes:
For hundreds of years we have believed that increased material wealth makes us happier, and we have shaped our world accordingly. We have built big box stores along highways that can only be reached by car. We have built larger and larger vehicles that isolate us from others and emit dangerous levels of carbon. We work 40 hours a week – or more – to maintain this lifestyle. Why do we believe that making a lot of money makes us happy? “We didn’t evolve with iPods and fancy cars,” explains Christopher Barrington-Leigh, an economist at the University of British Columbia. “How could we possibly have a preset level of satisfaction that relates material things to how happy we are?”
While the world has certainly grown richer in the last 50 years, most happiness economists agree that happiness and life satisfaction levels have remained constant. The United States, for example, has failed to see higher happiness levels since the end of the Second World War, despite a quadrupling of their gdp. The New York Times recently reported that while incomes in China grew by 250 percent between 1994 and 2007, life satisfaction levels shrank drastically. The Easterlin Paradox, a theory developed in 1974, explains this phenomena: Money makes us happier until average incomes are achieved. After that, money’s affect on happiness is greatly reduced.
As well, in a piece on GetRichSlowly, JD Roth writes:
A new study out of the U.K. confirms what many of us have already learned: Money only makes you happy if you have more than those around you. According to the London Telegraph:
Despite the vast improvements in general standards of living in the past 40 years across Britain, ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ is still our biggest aspiration, the findings suggest.
Researchers have found that owning a fast car, a large home and having a good job may only make you happy if those around you are less well off. The pursuit of wealth is leading more people to work longer hours as they seek to pay their mortgages and climb the social ladder. Dr Chris Boyce, of University of Warwick’s psychology department, said Britons were victims of chronic dissatisfaction. Americans are victims of this same chronic dissatisfaction. It’s too easy to compare ourselves with those around us. (And television gives us a chance to make false comparisons: We see what “normal” people have in commercials and in various programs, and we subconsciously begin to want these things too.)
So how do we keep from overspending, keep from being a slave to credit and keep from competing with the Jones? It boils down to individually unplug ourselves. Yes articles like this can help shed light on the subject and show you the truth, however its up to each one of us to unplug ourselves from the corporate matrix. And once we unplug ourselves, we being to understand this little known fact: happiness is not finally being able to purchase the latest gadget, designer bag or car. We know from experience that once we obtain these things we are rarely happy for an extended amount of time and the more of them we accumulate, even that level if short-term happiness begins to lose strength. Why? Because happiness is not the destination at the end of a journey, it IS the journey.
For example: every morning when you get in your car, cut on your music and head to work, you find yourself dancing, singing and carrying on but then when you pull up to the place you were driving to and park, what happens? You say to yourself, “now I gotta go in THIS sorry a$$ mothafucka again”. Right? I mean… all along the way you knew what the destination was and you knew why you decided to go there that day, yet in still the most enjoyment you had was on your way there.
So what is the point of all of this? The point is that you were not meant to be the slave for someone else for the rest of your life. Contrary to what society expects you to believe, you actually DONT have to live check to check and you DONT have to be confined to the prison of debt. Your menial job was meant to be the means to an end. Think about this: who does it benefit every time you spend more money than you make? You? Really? Or big businesses who get to not only keep competition down from limiting the number of people taking the entrepreneurial approach, but that also get to keep you dependent on whatever they decide to pay you for your survival? You are in a country where you have been given every resource imaginable not to have to live this way, and just like they thought you would, you have traded your freedom for the cost of trying to impress people you don’t even like. To try and impress people who are most likely more broke than you anyways. You’ve traded it to become a battery.
Now what if you didn’t actually depend on your monthly salary for survival? What if your money worked for you instead of you working for it for 40+ years? What if you didn’t have to stress out at the end of every month when you struggle trying to figure out how in the world are you going to pay for things you did two years ago? Or what if you were able to start & run a business the way you wanted to run it and serve people the way you feel they should be served? Maybe you even decided you don’t want to run the day-to-day operations of that business anymore and chose to hire someone else to while you spent time with your kids? What if you were able to financially secure pretty much anything that could come up for your family with no worries whatsoever? Secure your children’s financial future? Or what if you were able to wake up every other day in a different location of your choice and experience the world? What if you were able to live among the world’s many different cultures and experience your journey of life through their eyes? What if you stopped waiting for happiness to come in a specific destination and instead started figuring out ways to enjoy your life while you have it? But most importantly, what if you woke up?
I’m trying to get you to understand that are a slave Neo, wake up.
FYI- here are some fun (or not so fun) worldwide credit facts as well: