Credit Crisis.

In this day and age you are seen as a different entity if you do not have a credit card. But in the current economic state, I wonder why this still remains the case. Since credit cards came to be, they have been seen as a status symbol, ‘all the rich and powerful people have them so does that mean I can be rich and powerful if I have this piece of plastic?’ is something that might have been going through the mind of many people worldwide when credit cards were introduced to the world. Almost everyone I know my age has one, and almost all of them regret it. Not only that, it is BECAUSE of credit that we are in the economic crisis we are in today. People didn’t seem to understand that credit, though it is an invisible currency, it has real repercussions. This adds even more interest rates, where they charge extra to people who don’t even have the money. What does anybody get out of this situation? Well… I suppose bankruptcy, foreclosures, and ultimately the death of the American dream. To me the American Dream is the idea of a society where you can be what you want, and do what you want however you want, so long as you are not hurting yourself or others in the process. Ultimate freedom. The United States was founded on such beliefs, was it not? This is a universal ideal, freedom. What does freedom mean in a world with an invisible currency? Well, it simply does not exist. When people can be weighed down by invisible chains, they will never grow, though you cannot see the chains, it does not mean they are any less heavy. Credit can, and has destroyed new businesses, and businesses that have been around for a long time.  Just like the housing market, it pulled the proverbial carpet from under everyone’s feet, but very few were left standing.

Credit cards can come in handy from time to time. Perhaps your getting paid tomorrow but you have no money to eat tonight, just put it on the card and pay it off when you get paid. Perhaps your in college (like myself) and you need your text books but you can’t pay for all of them at the start of the semester. Put it on the card and pay for half one paycheque and half the next. In these ways, in precautionary ways, credit cards excel. I believe every student should have one, just in case of an emergency, and anyone who attends college knows from day one that these emergencies happen often. I applied for a credit card once, only to get declined. I didn’t understand because my credit rating was amazing, I have never missed a bill in my life, my whole family has a great track record. When I put more thought into it, I decided I didn’t really need one at the time, I’m sort of glad I didn’t re-apply. Though I am a student, I like the challenge of balancing paycheques. Also, scholarship money helps too.

Before, when, for example, a new film maker wanted to break out, he would borrow money. Maybe not just from one source, but likely a bank was involved at some time. Banks would give out loans, and add interest rates on the loan based on how much was borrowed, and how long it takes to pay it back. Credit cards are based on this ideal. Cheap, and easily accessible loaning of money, or credit. This seems innocent enough, only when everyone has these loaning devices, even the unemployed and the welfare lifers, something is wrong. Why are credit card companies loaning money to people who simply do not have it? Because they can charge interest? Perhaps they missed the lesson in grade 3 where anything multiplied by zero is still zero. In this case, you can’t go zero to hero either. As King Lear said in Act one to his daughter “Nothing will come of nothing”. All the current system of credit does before giving the cards out is they check the applicants current credit rating. For most people, it’s all downhill from there. Put yourself in debt, allow that debt to get additional charges on it, and watch yourself paying bill after bill for the rest of your life, not able to go anywhere because you had to have all those things that nobody needs. Maybe your wife goes shopping from time to time and spends a few hundred dollars, maybe you wanted a nice sports car. Capitalism is only a destructive force when you become careless enough to let it. Don’t be so hasty to point that finger, because it is all your fault.

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Parenting Today

There is a pandemic that is plaguing the earth. It leads to lashing out, often times in aggressive ways. I am talking, of course, about bad parenting. I see it all the time. Kids not getting scolded for being bad. Parents buying ridiculously violent games for their 5 year old kids. In fact, it is getting so bad that the parents are starting to mimic the childish, juvenile behavior of their child(ren). Parents today don’t seem to realize that this is not good for their kids. Although I am convinced that they simply wouldn’t care even if they could get it through their heads. I may not be a parent, but I know how I was raised, and sure, some things are questionable, however I turned out well and I at least know how to respect others if nothing else.

Kids today not only don’t respect random people they see at stores or on the street, they don’t respect their parents. I see kids not listening to their parents more than ever. I see kids left in stores because the parent threatened to leave them there and the kids took that as a blessing. Parents need to realize that if things become like this, you need to change the way you do things. Often times I see kids essentially vandalizing stores, taking things off shelves and throwing product around like it was their play room. While they do this, the parent is simply standing right there not doing or saying anything, pretending they don’t exist. I don’t know the “right” way to handle this, but I know if I did that as a kid my parents would not only not be happy, they would have picked me up and taken me out of the store, potentially never to return there again. There was no reason for my parents to keep taking me places where I act like a delinquent. Stores are a luxury. If you can’t handle them, you don’t deserve to have them. That’s how I was raised with Luxuries in my life.

Kids that are my customers at my store have such terrible social skills. When their parent tells them to ask me a question they just stare at me with  a puzzled look on their face, as if I was god and they were trying to ask me the meaning of life. Words never escape their mouth and their parents just say what the kid wanted  to say, but clearly was incapable of talking to anyone else except their mommy or daddy. If they don’t stare at me, they are just staring at their parent as though I had just stabbed someone or shot up. To me, it is not the child that looks stupid here. Despite not being able to articulate anything, that is ultimately the parents fault. Clearly the kid has been sheltered by mom and dad, held away from the big bad world. Nobody can go anywhere in life like this.

I work in a game store. I see a lot of nerds, a lot of socially retarded people, and a lot of spoiled brats. Many of the children that are in my store are clearly raised by their Xbox more than their parents. I strongly believe many parents use gaming as a cheap daycare. Today I had a woman with her son, her son traded in two PSP games that were rated E (for everyone), then the kid grabbed a copy of Mortal Kombat for the PS3 and the mom just grabs it and hands it to my co-worker. My co-worker tells the woman “This is rated M for mature, it is intended for seventeen or older people. It is rated M because of intense violence, suggestive themes and mild language, is this ok?” the woman turns to her son in shock and the kid says “But nobody really dies, there’s no swearing, nobody even bleeds!” This is when I pipe up. I tell the woman “this is probably the  most brutal game that’s out right now” but you know what the woman did? She listened to her son and got the game for him. This is not the first time this has happened, and it won’t be the last. In fact, look how hugely popular Call of Duty is. It is a billion dollar grossing game series, however, a large part of the audience is children. Children who’s mommy and daddy bought them their video games so they could be happy.

Many parents that come in my store say things like “I am looking for a game for my (5-10 year old) son, it can be violent or whatever, just no swearing”. Naturally I have to cater to their needs as I am in the customer service industry, but it makes me feel a huge level of concern. What this does is tells the kids that violence, killing, sexual themes, etc. are ok, but swearing is not. It Should be the opposite. I mean, swearing is everywhere, in fact the father probably swore once in the car ride to my store. Swearing is on tv, it’s suggested in ads, popular songs have swearing in them. The only thing more frequent than swearing these days is sexual themes/stupidity.

I strongly believe if this generation of kids keeps being raised as they are they will turn out extremely messed up. If they are taught violence is ok, that hitting women is ok, then what’s to say this generation won’t be full of murdering psychopaths? Especially with the lack of social skills, many serial killers have brutal social problems as well. I often think these kids would be better off in the brutal confines of the foster care system, clearly their parents do not know how to raise a child.Sure, when I was a kid I was allowed to occasionally play an M or T rated game, but it was a luxury if I couldn’t handle it, my parents would not only stop buying me games, but also take away the games I already had. Sure it was Nazi, but that is PARENTING. You as the parent NEED to set the boundaries and set the law for your child. Children can’t raise themselves, video games cannot raise them, the PARENTS need to raise them, and raise them properly if they want their children to succeed.