Sunday, January 31, 2010

Are YOU a Hoarder? Are You Sure? (Part I of a Four Part Series)

Hoarding is a word often bandied about as if everyone intuitively knows what it means and it is usually, in this day and age, associated with something disdainful. We know that hoarding has to be evil because when someone uses the word they crunch up their face, crinkle their nose, and look as if they are trying to barf up their breakfast.

Has the common usage of the word “hoarding” strayed a bit from the dictionary definition? We’re a bit suspicious the meaning of the word has been intentionally hijacked on a couple of fronts and we think we understand why. We are going to attempt to cull the stray usages of the word out from the more accurate dictionary definition and properly throw a rope on ‘em, brand ‘em and send these bawlin’ strays back to their mommas where they belong.

The inspiration for this post came from a couple of postings by Craig Ford at Money Help for Christians titled How Much Savings for Retirement is Enough? and The Rich and Poor: My Interview With The Poor People of PNG. Both articles are linked below and are worthy of a close read.

Craig Ford is a missionary evangelist in Papua, New Guinea (PNG). Craig was curious about how the poor people he interacts with perceive his standard of living, as compared to theirs, and what their attitudes were about money, how they defined or described the “rich," what they thought they needed to do to be rich, whether being rich was a worthy goal, the advantages and disadvantages of being poor, and what they expected of the “rich” when it comes to benevolence extended them. This article was of particular interest to us because it demonstrates very clearly how our beliefs about money affect our financial destinies. It also reaffirms how unquestioned beliefs are often passed from one generation to the next with rather predictable outcomes.

The first article we linked to, on retirement, deals with the very interesting and elusive topic of how much is enough when it comes to saving for retirement. Craig uses Luke 12:16-21 as a guide in determining when enough is enough and labels those who have too much as being hoarders. Craig derives his conclusion from focusing on the fact the “rich man” in the story had what might be considered an over abundance of riches. We disagree with Craig’s conclusion because there are Biblical examples of those having an over abundance of riches who were not disparaged in this manner. So what is the answer? In our view, as stated in verse 21, it was not the “rich man’s” over abundance of riches that was the problem, but rather his scarcity toward God. In other words, the “rich man” was rich in things, but was bankrupt toward God. A person not rich toward God is a person not living with an attitude of gratitude.

How do the two linked articles above relate to one another? The two articles deal with two groups of people…the rich and the poor. The assumption is that those who have a surplus they’ve set aside for retirement are rich and those who don’t have a surplus set aside for the future are poor. An additional assumption is that the “rich” have a duty to help the poor and that the rich might really have more than they need anyway.

We thank Craig for these two postings because we will be drawing heavily from them as we form an answer to the question stated in the title to our post…Are YOU a Hoarder? Are You Sure? Normally, we avoid attempting to answer questions for others and prefer, instead, to seek the answers to life’s critical questions for ourselves since we’ve learned long ago that we have no control over the behavior of others nor believe such control is desirable. In this case, however, the answer to the question of hoarding is so universal, unequivocal, and straightforward that we felt we were safe in directing the question to the reader directly.

The question of hoarding is a vitally important question because the perversion of the meaning of words is the basis of misunderstanding, social conflict, tyranny, and oppression. In our view, the perversion of the meaning of words has facilitated the advance of collectivist (socialist) thinking and action in government, public education, AND religion. When these misrepresentations are appropriately stripped away and we see the naked truth underneath them we are then faced with the choice of clinging to our old beliefs or accepting new and more empowering beliefs. Our beliefs and associated choices determine our destinies. We urge you to begin this journey with us by reading the linked postings above before going any further as they will give much weight to what we have to say going forward.

We will not only be answering the question of whether or not you are a hoarder, but we will also be chasing down the ever elusive answer to the question of when enough is enough when it comes to saving for retirement.

Defining Our Terms

Words have significance. How can we logically communicate with each other and share vital information if we don’t understand how we each may be defining important words? We don’t have to agree with each other’s definition of terms, but if we want to understand the human dynamics going on around us and how the world works we had better define our own terms, determine how other people define them, note the differences, and have a plan to deal with these differences when we interact with one another so we can have more harmonious interpersonal relationships and outcomes. The goal of good communication is not uniformity in our thoughts, beliefs, and actions, but rather it is about understanding how our fellow human beings think, believe, and act so we can better interact with them in relative peace and harmony.

So, let’s begin by exploring the meaning of the word hoarding. How can we know if we are a hoarder if we haven’t yet defined it?

The dictionary defines hoarding as the simple act of…storing up supplies or money beyond our current needs. That definition doesn’t sound so evil does it? When someone crinkles up their nose and crunches up their face when using this term, what definition are THEY using? It must mean something more to them than what the dictionary implies.

If you type in the word “hoarding” into your favorite search engine what usually comes up first are articles associated with obsessive compulsive behavior disorders involving people labeled as “hoarders” who have an obsession to collect things to the extent their lives and sometimes their health (physical or mental) are adversely affected. People diagnosed with this behavioral disorder will sometimes collect so many things that they can hardly traverse from one room of their house to the next. Items they’ve collected are stacked floor-to-ceiling or from furniture-to-ceiling and they move about their house and from room to room via narrow passageways and aisles they’ve created between these stacked items. They are not generally collecting these items as a means to an end, but rather seem to be collecting these items as an end unto itself.

We will dismiss that usage of the word “hoarding” as not being germane to the discussion because most people saving toward retirement are looking forward to retiring with great anticipation and saving money is a definite component to achieve that end. And, many retirees are finding out that they’ve miscalculated how much money is needed in retirement. Most retirement calculations are based on the government’s calculation of the inflation rate which is deceptively low compared to the actual rate of inflation. The government’s purposeful miscalculation of the inflation rate excludes the high cost of housing, food, and energy from its index. This deceit is by no means an accident because the government’s calculation of the inflation rate is also used to determine cost of living raises for government employees, government retirees, and social security recipients. The government’s calculation of the inflation rate is often factored into the benefits and compensation packages of corporate employees and retirees. This deceit has allowed for the scaling down of wages and retirement benefits across all sectors, public and private. This deceit will no doubt continue and become even more pronounced in the future since most people are seemingly unaware of its existence.

It is also becoming even more important to save aggressively for retirement, of late, due to the current economic conditions prevailing upon us as more and more corporations are going bankrupt and not honoring their pension promises. In addition, banksters and politicians have reached and are continuing to reach into all of our wallets to fix what they broke. The banksters and politicians we are relying on to fix this mess are the same ones who did not see the financial train wreck coming until the derailed cars were strewn for miles and miles in all directions. Matter of fact, these very same banksters and politicians were the ones shoveling coal (credit) into the engine of this runaway financial train while ignoring the numerous warnings of impending disaster just up ahead. Well, the train wreck is still a work in progress and the taxpayer is on the hook for picking up the tab. So, saving for retirement and emergencies are even more important now than ever before.

Far too many people, including Christians, have placed far too much faith in government to fix the very things the government broke in the first place. The deceived taxpayer is literally signing a blank check and has no idea of what the final amount printed on the check will be. Again, this is an on-going swindle of uncertain duration and cost; and the moral hazard associated with its continuance is compounding by the day. Before it is over many individuals will want and expect a personal bailout themselves without any regard as to how their own choices and misplaced faith in government and political hacks contributed to their plight. These individuals will show increasing willingness to use the political process to pillage the wallets of their neighbors and there seems to be no shortage of political prostitutes to accommodate their lusts and desires. The ranks of the unemployed are growing by leaps and bounds and there seems to be no end in sight; and there is also a growing expectation that their basic needs will be met by society at large.

What does all this mean? It means that the remaining employed, are not only going to be pillaged by government and corporate pickpockets, but they will also be pillaged by the growing entitlement mentality among the newly minted “poor.” There will, however, come a day that the entitlement check bounces and it will be returned marked with the startling words, “account overdrawn.” There has never been a society that has traveled the path we are currently on that has escaped the inevitable conclusion of national bankruptcy and the end of empire.

Should it give us any real comfort to be able to blame others for our individual plight once we recognize our own choices may have contributed to the crisis? Did we buy into the credit bubble swindle? Did we flip houses and use our homes as ATM machines thinking this real estate bubble and associated credit bubble were somehow different than the financial bubbles of the past? Did we buy the lie that spending money, beyond our means, was the patriotic thing to do? Did the deceivers snooker us or did we snooker ourselves with our own financial greed, the lure of easy credit, and the lust of the eye? In blaming the banksters and the government for our plight, are we not piously negating our own personal responsibility? If we so easily exercise tyranny upon ourselves, with our own false beliefs and choices, what hope do we have of overcoming the tyranny of the government, the banksters, or the political prostitutes and their johns (voter)? If we continue to place our faith in these scoundrels are we not, to some degree, accomplices to the tyranny and economic oppression that befalls us?

To be continued…


Len Penzo said...

By keeping the status quo, we are absolutely *all* accomplices in the government's continuing debasement of our currency.

I fear for us all because, if we do not quickly abolish the Fed and its ability to create money out of thin air, the coming economic Armageddon will be so great that most of us will be incapable of ever "hoarding" enough dollars to keep our heads above water.

Our only hope is to elect politicians this November who understand the danger of unrestrained deficit spending. It would be a bonus if they feared our Central Bank as much as great Americans like Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson did - and actually tried to do something about it.


Len Penzo dot Com

Steven and Debra said...

Hi Len,

We certainly agree that our present economic course is unsustainable and, sadly, it may take a complete financial meltdown to end the Fed.

Fortunately, we can reduce our exposure to paper promise default or devaluation by trading our fiat dollars, as quickly as we receive them, for tangibles. We don’t have to play the part of victim or accomplice any more than we choose to.

I our view, voting for tangibles, by buying them with our dollars, is preferable to voting for politicians. Political and paper promises have historically fallen far short of the mark.
We appreciate your valuable comments.