3 Things I Learned on Tuesday: Part 1 Debt

Dollar Cleveland TheWholeRuth 5.15.13
#dollabillsyall #makestheworldgoround #orisitinertia #creepyfloatingeye

1) Donald Trump’s companies have filed for bankruptcy 4 times.

While reading the highly trustworthy and classy Examiner, maybe for the first time, and without knowing how I ended up there, I saw a link for an article about people going from riches to rags. I hesitated to click on it because I didn’t want to give any energy to stories about people who finally made it somewhere and then lost it, thinking that I may read something that would make me anxious later. But I clicked it anyway and it wasn’t very scary or life-changing, just people’s natural ups and downs, some from being frivolous, some from injuries, some from negative life events who bounced back even higher… But Donald Trump’s story gave me new perspective. I was shocked to find out that four of his companies had filed for bankruptcy, because they were millions, sometimes billions of dollars short.

I’m short. By inches. And debt wise, I’m barely making it each month, but I am. I sometimes think about how filing for bankruptcy would be helpful, but then I think, “No, no, you can pay back that $15,000 and if you didn’t, the world would end.”

But I bring all of this up because I think there is a cavernous hole between the rich and the poor’s mindset, an overall national wonder, where there are different moral rules that we are raised with that become our internal truths. How can it be that I see on television a lower class citizen saying they don’t deserve health insurance or that they believe a rich person has done so much for society that they can- I’m practicing not judging myself when I write and at this point, I didn’t feel like talking about this any more, so I didn’t.

I’m going to say this next part, but please know it’s very sad. A dear friend of mine is no longer here, and I know that feeling defeated that they needed to ask for help one more time to pay a debt (of $5,000) is part of the reason.

That’s why I bring this mindset up. It’s not a talking point. It’s not a political thing. It’s affecting our friends and loved ones, our nation, in a deeply psychological way.

They say, it’s just for business. It’s just business. But I am self-employed. I am an actor. I am my business. When I am injured, it hurts my business. There is a huge blurred line. Where is that quick empathy, that nonchalant of-course-ness for our fellow man who is hurting financially, but is not borrowing billions? If I owe $50 on my Sprint bill and it goes to collection, I get four phone calls a day and there are huge odds that the voice on the other end of the phone will be a low status person soaring on the high status given to them and they will treat me like a dog. And not a cute Muppet dog who you sing with and wag butts with. The kind you eat in China.

The financial shame that comes with owing smaller amounts of money is woven into our society. It is unhealthy. It fogs our clear thinking. It blocks us from brainstorming our way out of a situation. And at the same time, this reverence for the rich is a magic lamp they know they have in their back pocket at any time, and we are the genie that grants some dramatic, egocentric, malicious people unlimited wishes.

Dollar Pyramid TheWholeRuth 5.15.13

So where does this leave me? What is my new perspective? At first it was, well, Hell Yeah, fuck everybody, I don’t give a fuck about this teeeninie amount of debt that some people spend on frivolous shit in a day. And not the people who invented something or worked their asses off to help society. There are people with that much money who didn’t do anything moral to get it. And then there are awesome genius people who did do all of that to earn their riches. But I’m just saying, I was like fuck this, $15,000 is not the end of the world.

Then, during that last sentence, I tried to think of how many times $15,000 goes into $3.4 billion dollars, which is one of the amounts Trump couldn’t pay. So I tried to type it into a calculator. And realized I don’t know how. How many millions is it again? I couldn’t remember. You may say, well, you’re a moron and that’s why you’re broke, and I’d say, you have a point. But I looked it up and now I know, at least until I forget again. It’s a thousand million, unless you are British, then it’s a million million! (Those Brits make everything more fun to say! Now bounce-trot around your room repeating with a Cockney accent , “A Biwyon is a Miwyon Miwyon!” Wee!) Just kidding, it used to be a million million in British English, now in all English, no matter what, it’s a thousand million. Borrring.

Also, on a Macbook Pro from 2006, the calculator won’t even let you type in a billion. A pop up window says “This laptop is designed for upper middle class people and that number does not compute. What the hell? How many millions are in a billion anyway?”

$15,000 goes into $3.4 billion 226,666.67 times. Aaaa! Satan’s number. Crap. Now I don’t even know what my point is.

If I spent $15,000 every day, I would have to live to be 621 years old before I could spend the $3.4 billion that Trump spent for free. Maybe Trump is a wizard! Or Methuselah, who unbeknownst to us, actually faked his death at 969 years of age so he could continue spending money under the name of Donald Trump forever. Insert ancient hair joke here? No? Not yet, ok…

Hair TheWholeRuth 5.15.13 2
#shirleytemple #birdsnestview #longpubes #hormoneperm

Also, if I filed for bankruptcy with my amount of debt, and then spent that same amount and filed again, 226,666 more times, I’d still owe $10,000. (It’s that lingering .67 that I didn’t include in the math fantasy.) I saved $5,000! This is easy.

I am a loving, idealistic, passionate society member who works, volunteers, enjoys walking in the shoes of other people, animals, and trees with shoes, continues learning, and generally tries to have a sense of humor about it all. Has Donald Trump really lived 226,667 better lifetimes than me to deserve no emotional repercussion for not paying back one of his debts? Not even including the other three? Can I compare our hair here? Nope, all right…

Or is the lesson simply the lack of emotional repercussion? Should those of us whose business debt is keeping us from moving our business forward just flush it down the toilet, pat each other on the back, and bust out a new Indiegogo campaign? Maybe! Or maybe there is a balance, where the new little businesses feel a little less scared to ask for, spend, and here and there not be able to repay borrowed dollars, and where billionaire business people feel more morally obligated to pay back what they owe.

Maybe Trump and his companies did feel bad about it- maybe it’s how much shit society gives itself about debt- yeah, that’s more what I’m talking about- the shit in our minds surrounding ourselves should be evenly spread shit no matter what your class. Shit for everyone or no shit for anyone, or just an inch wading pool of poo as long as we’re all standing in it.

I feel like I learned a lot today from Donald (Methuselah): that as much as I want to make a hair joke, my moral upbringing has left me with only Biblical math humor and $15,000 in debt, but my sense of guilt has been relinquished.

*Shane wonders if there are debt collectors who call people like Donald Trump.

**Here is a second article from Forbes magazine that I read to get a second and different opinion than that of Examiner. It’s all fascinating to me.

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