Saturday, September 22, 2007

Credit: The American Way – Part I

This is the first section of a series entitled “Credit: The American way”, which purpose is to discuss financial issues in society yesterday, today and tomorrow. This first increment of series will deal with personal debts, the increase thereof, and the issues that we face because of it.

Credit is an amazing thing. Without it what could you do? You would most likely not receive any secondary education, own a house, or even a car! Buying on credit has often been called “The American Way”, and is generously indulged in by virtually every man woman and child not just in America but in the world. It seems that the overall goal for many in life is to become “Debt Free”; to own your own house, vehicles, and have enough money left over to hold you over until you die. An interesting side note is that strangely enough after this seems to be achieved they go and sell their house and vehicles, buy a RV, play the tourists, and use their retirement money 10 years ahead of schedule.

It was not always so, or at least not to the extent that it is seen today. Not tot distantly in our past it was the common standard “not to buy anything you don't have the cash to pay for”, but in recent years as interest rates drifted to the lowest levels in decades, consumers responded by buying everything and anything they could on credit. This fed a healthy cycle of economic growth and a growing job market.

Although buying on credit has its obvious advantages, and is almost a necessity in this day and age, it poses several disadvantages, problems, and a great potential for disaster not only on a personal level but on a national and even international level. Let’s take a look at these issues now.

On a personal level there are some definite issues and some troubling statistics. About 43% of American families spend more than they earn each year, the average ratio for Income:Expenditures is 1:1.22, meaning that Americans spend about a dollar and a quarter for every dollar they earn. The average household carries some $8,000 in credit card debt alone not including mortgages, cars, etcetera, (2004 Study) this number is up from about the $3,000 in 1990 that’s a 167% increase in 14 years, if this percent increase continued as it has, by the time I am 60(18 now) the average debt would be over 22,000(though inflation is another issue)! For an $8,000 debt at a rate of 18% interest, it will take more than 25 years to repay and cost more than $37,260 on the credit card alone.

These debts are termed “Revolving” credit which most typically involves credit cards. It accounts for about 37% of overall personal debt (excluding housing). Revolving debt currently totals $735.3 billion in the U.S.; that's about 31% higher than it was only five years ago (2004 Study). Even more worrisome is that about 60% of active credit card accounts are not paid off monthly. The figure has more than doubled in a decade. In 2003, 1 out of every 73 households in America filed for bankruptcy, in this last decade personal bankruptcies, or those who are unable or to pay their creditors, has doubled! (Stats from 1994-2004)

About 63% of debt is “non-revolving" debt such as automobile loans, student loans, boats. mobile home/RV loans, and personal loans. Which work in fixed increments of payment, unfortunately many do not, or cannot, live up to these payments and either forgo the pending payment or take personal loans (revolving) out, which makes the debtor pay more money overall but in smaller increments over a longer space of time.

The largest debt that most people have, is of course housing. Where I live, near Vancouver, you would be hard pressed for find a lot of land for less than $250,000 in the city. Buying a house is a very significant investment, it has great potential financially, but it can also go the other way. Regardless of what does happen, buying a house is the number one expense for Americans, is used to secure loans and as such needs to be treated with great care, as if you cannot fill your commitment you might find yourself on the street.

The total average of personal debt in the United States is $120,000 (2004 Stat) per household; this includes Housing, Vehicles, Loans, and Credit Cards, to use the scientific term “The whole shebang”. Of this total 76% is result of housing. 12% is installments loans (Non-Revolving Debt), 6% other residential property, 3% Credit Card balances (generally Revolving Debt), 3% “Other”.

The actual reasons the Americans take out loans are as follows. 70% for housing, 8% for vehicles, 7% for other residential property, 6% for goods and services, 3% for investments, 3% for education, 2% for home improvements, and the other 1% for the infamous categorization of “Other”.

So the synopsis is the average person in America owes $120,000 in personal debt, while this in and of itself may not seem very significant to some, especially to those who live in city centers where house prices are outrageously high, we must also take into account that this is an average. At the moment the average age in the United States is 56.3 years old which means that the average person is at a point in life where they have lower debt and are preparing for retirement if not already retired. The largest bulk of the population of the United States was born between 1946 and ends in 1960 which makes the bulk of the population is 47 to 61 years old, which is again is an age of lowering debts and retirement. What does this mean? It means that the bulk of this average of $120,000 dollars is coming from the younger generation, so if we were to poll the working population the average would be much higher, and like our fathers we are relishing the joys of credit, pushing its limits, buying more and more on credit. This is causing an even more alarming effect then the high debts; it is causing the average debt to rise each year in astonishing leaps and bounds, it has doubled bankruptcy in the last 10 years, and shows no sign of slowing. Something has got to give! While I do not and cannot supply an overall remedy, the first step in healing is obviously knowledge, while the next logical step is to formulate a plan to control your own personal debt, and in turn educate and assist others.

These financial issues in the United States are rather reflective of the actual governments’ situation that these citizens belong to. In the next increment of “Credit: The American Way” I would like to look at debt on a bigger scale, and examine the troubling National and International debts, which a center of the United States of America, which are more significant, less controllable, and a serious problem that will have to be dealt with in the next few years.

Mormon Web Links

LDS Official Website
The official Homepage of The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints(Mormons)

LDS Information Site
An official website dedicated to inform those interested about the LDS(Mormon) church.

LDS Scriptures
The LDS canon online.

A Introduction to the Book of Mormon
A brief intro to the Book of Mormon(LDS Scripture) by Leff Lindsey, along with an FAQ of facts and history of it.

All About Mormons

A site to dispel some of the many misconceptions and an attempt to build cultural bridges between Mormons and those of other Religions/Philosophies.

Black LDS Site
A site designed by and for Black members of the LDS(Mormon) church to dispel and explain common myths, misconceptions, and history.

Book Of Mormon Evidences
A complementation of physical and external evidences of the authenticity of the Book Of Mormon(LDS scripture) by Jeff Lindsey.

Brant Gardner's Page
A scholarly site that investigates LDS and non LDS topics.

BYU
Brigham Young University homepage, with a great resource of papers.

BYU TV
Watch BYU TV live, or pick from 2 weeks of showing time.

Barry's Page
Barry Bickmor's site on Early Christianity and Mormonism, and links to Discussions of The Book Of Abraham (LDS Scripture)

Divine Comedy
A LDS theater comedy site, with videos uploaded from performances and spoofs, with a varying level of wholesome humor. with some more generic humor items, and Mormon jokes.

FAIR
The Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR) is a organization dedicated to providing well-documented answers to criticisms of LDS (Mormon) doctrine, belief and practice.

The Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies is an organization affiliated with Brigham Young University, and now under the wing of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. A good source for historical research related to the LDS Church.

FARMS Multimedia Productions
A collection of multimedia presentations from the Maxwell Institute.

Finding Cumorah
An effort to piece together Geography from the Book of Mormons (LDS Scripture), specifically to find a hill were purportedly there was a large battle.

Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture
A nonprofit, independent, peer-reviewed educational journal focused on the scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its publications are available free of charge, with our goal to increase understanding of scripture.

Jeff Lindsey

A website Maintained by a LDS author named Jeff Lindsey, along with LDS FAQ's, Explanation, Science & Religion Question, and a massive LDS archive, he deals with social events, local, Global Event, Science Technology, photography,humor, magic, and international events, and more.

Joseph Smith Site
A site dedicated to Joseph Smith, the LDS(Mormon) Founder, or prophet. Gives information about him and his life.

LDS Teaching & Lessons

A new forum to discuss, post, or read various lessons talks

Mormon Site
A site made by Allen Leigh that contains basic information, apologetics, spiritual guidance, history, scholarship, essays,jokes, receipts and more.

Mormon Sites

A web site devoted to finding physical evidences of nephites(A group of people found in their scriptures) in the Americas. This focuses on
Book of Mormon geography, though stretches at times to archeology, anthropology, and all that 'junk'.

Mormon Cult
Objective irrefutable proof that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a MORMON CULT.

Mormon Doctrine
A study of Doctrine and teachings found in the Bible, Book of Mormon(LDS Scripture), and Pearl of Great Price(LDS Scripture).

Mormon Fortress
LDS Apologetics resource


Mormon Haven
A place to ask quetsions about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints(Mormons)

SHIELDS
Scholarly and Historical Information Exchange for Latter-day Saints. Mormon apologetics and information about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).

New Jerusalem
A good source for LDS(Mormon) information and questions.

Prophet or Pope?
Berry Bickmore, LDS member talk to Roman Catholic Steve Clifford, a catholic born and raised in the LDS church about Apostolic Secession.
* If anyone has a web link they wish to be added to this list please contact me with the request at Lynden_Jensen@hotmail.com

Sikhism Web Links

Sikh.org
A Sikh page dedicated to knowledge, history, philosophy, and learning.

Sikh Net
A site for Sikh information, theology, guidance, enlightenment, answers, and peace.

Sikh Encyclopedia
A Sikh Encyclopedia for the accurate information distribution about Sikhism.

Sikh History

A web Site Dedicated to give an accurate history of the Sikh Movement.

Sikh Wiki
A Wiki initiated by Sikh adheres to further enlighten and to notify of Sikh practice, theology, and doctrine.

* If anyone has a web link they wish to be added to this list please contact me with the request at Lynden_Jensen@hotmail.com

Shintoism Web Links

Shinto Sacred Texts
Resources for Shinto Scripture, teachings, and sacred text.

Shinto Encyclopedia
A Shinto Encyclopedia that defines basic concepts, words, and ideas.

Shinto Online Network Association
An organization that publishes Japanese Tradiation and tried to publish correct understanding of the Shinto Religion

Shinto Information
Basic information compiled by the Religious Tolerance Website.

* If anyone has a web link they wish to be added to this list please contact me with the request at Lynden_Jensen@hotmail.com

Judaism Web Links

Aish
A Jewish center for learning, correspondences and worship.

Torah.org
Jewish studies of the Torah of Moses.

Jewish Encyclopedia
A Jewish Encyclopedia for theology, doctrine, practices, history, and general information.

Jewish.com
A center for information and links about Judaism

Bible Quiz
A Jewish Bible Quiz

Jewish Wiki
A Wiki site initiated by Jews to spread knowledge about Judaism.

* If anyone has a web link they wish to be added to this list please contact me with the request at Lynden_Jensen@hotmail.com

Jainism Web Links

Jainism Links
External List of Jainism Links

* If anyone has a web link they wish to be added to this list please contact me with the request at Lynden_Jensen@hotmail.com

Islamic Web Links

Al-Islam
The Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project, which is a study of religion from an Islam perspective.

Sunni PathMusud
The Online Center for Traditional Sunni Islam

Masud
A Online Center with articles by Traditional Sunni scholars

Masud
A Online Center with articles by Traditional Sunni scholars

Shia
A Shia Website

Surfi Order

The American Sufi Website

UGA on Sufism
An Academic website on Sufism

Al Islam
The Official Ahmadiyya Website

Islam 101

An educational site on Islam, its way of life, civilization and culture. A source for historic research, theology, debate, and perspectives.

Islam Tormorrow
A media central for Islams, a community for Islams to talk, to listed to conversions stories, to understand, and to uplift.

Islam Wiki
A Wiki initiated by Muslims for the furthering of knowledge of Islam.

Qu'ran Explorer

A resource that provided further accessibility to the Qu'ran, with audio
recitation and translation online.


* If anyone has a web link they wish to be added to this list please contact me with the request at Lynden_Jensen@hotmail.com



Hinduism Web Links

Hinduism Today
A site to inform about Hinduism, to enlighten its Adheres, to be a teaching resource, and dispel misconceptions.

Hinduism Wiki
A Wiki site initiated by Hindus to provide a resource for learning about the Hindi religion.


* If anyone has a web link they wish to be added to this list please contact me with the request at Lynden_Jensen@hotmail.com

Buddhism Web Links

BuddhaNet
Buddhism Information and Education Network

Buddhist Sacred Texts

Sacred religious texts of Buddhism.

Buddhist Wiki
A new Wiki initiated by Buddhists.

Insight

Readings in Theravada Buddhism


* If anyone has a web link they wish to be added to this list please contact me with the request at Lynden_Jensen@hotmail.com

Baha'ism Web Links

Official Baha'i Home Page
The official Baha'i Home page designed to inform about Baha'i Theology, to educate in history, and to enlighten it adhere and viewers.

List Of Baha'i Writings, Teachings, and Sacred Text

A BBC list of Baha'i Sources for information

Baha'i Wiki
A Wiki initiated by Baha'i adheres for further information about the Baha'i World Faith.

* If anyone has a web link they wish to be added to this list please contact me with the request at Lynden_Jensen@hotmail.com

Christianity Web Links

Roman Catholic Encyclopedia
A Roman Catholic Encyclopedia with theological, religious, and Catholic definitions, with short explanations and elaborations.

Early Roman Catholic Literature
Early recorded documents of Christian saints and religious figures.

Catholic Answers
Roman Catholic and Christian apologetics site.

Roman Catholic Wiki

A Wiki created and maintained by Roman Catholic Adheres, for Catholic Apologetics, Theology, Evangelization, and Catechetics

Catholic Wiki

A new Wiki page initiated by a Roman Catholic for the further knowledge of Catholicism.

Orthodox Wiki
A Wiki initiated by Orthodox Christian in an effort to provide in death information about orthodox Christianity.

Lutheran Wiki

A Wiki initiated by Lutheran Christians in an effort to provide in death information about Lutheran theology and Christianity.


* If anyone has a web link they wish to be added to this list please contact me with the request at Lynden_Jensen@hotmail.com

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