domingo rogers: Capturing Life in the Fullest

Health, Debt, and Happy?

What can be added to the happiness of a man who is in health, out of debt, and has a clear conscience?

Adam Smith – Economist

The above quote, by Adam Smith, the Scottish political economist and philosopher of the mid to late 1700’s made me stop and think today, “Having ones health is definitely priceless, but just because one has a clear conscience and is out of debt doesn’t necessarily mean that ultimate financial happiness has been achieved.” Perhaps he was writing about happiness in general…Then again maybe he’s talking about bad debt not good debt. In either case, I challenge the following: Outside of nuns, monks, and those on the opposite side of the spectrum – money addicts, why do people from all walks of life strive in some degree to enter into debt?

For those that have entered into a vow of poverty, they have not entered into a promise to be “dirt poor” but rather a vow to not own any of their own belongings. Instead money, tools, clothes, and other “earthly” items are shared as a community and put back into society. Monks, nuns, and many other religious devotees focus on Heavenly treasures and the spiritual well being of themselves and others. With this focus and servitude they are often times living in the exact life that Adam Smith speaks about; healthy, clear conscience, and debt free individuals. However, there are others in society that though being debt free, penny pinching, healthy individuals are content but not happy. These individuals are constantly worrying about their future in some way or the other. They cut coupons, sock money away in the bank where it’s “secure.” Others don’t trust the government and stash the money away in their backyard or underneath their mattress. Oh they don’t have any debt, they own their house free and clear, drive an old reliable vehicle, and boast quite adamantly about these accomplishments. Are they truly happy, though? Are they happy in their mind because they don’t know anything different? Is the colloquial saying, “What you don’t know, can’t hurt you” true? As one considers these questions and ponders the fact that the movers and shakers of history have started from both very financially wealthy and poor backgrounds, one must keep in perspective that these individuals have chosen to remain in their sec of society while others have gone to the opposite side of the spectrum and choose to become very wealthy or live a very meager lifestyle.

While there are those that choose to live a life of meagerness because of religious beliefs or because they want to have as little risk of loss in their life; there are those that live in excess and are living in debt and beyond their means to a grand level. Whether society puts these individuals under the label of those dealing with gambling addictions or money addictions, these individuals are living in denial of a deeper problem. I found an interesting link from the University of Maine on addictions to money and am including it here for consideration:

http://www.umaine.edu/eap/money_additions.htm

My further reading found that according to an article on the Center For Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) website, “[The] combination of bubble-induced wealth effects and declining wage income has led to record levels of borrowing. The combined level of mortgage debt and consumer debt stood at a record 108.3 percent of disposable income at the end of 2003. This ratio of debt to income is almost 16 full percentage points above the 2000 level, which was already a record.” They based this statement from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and Federal Reserve Board. For those of you wanting to do more research here is their links:

My research and thought process must take a pause, but this discussion will continue and so will the journey…

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