LONG BEACH (coup2k.com) May 29, 2001 - Every once in a very great while, I do something financially irresponsible. Or at least, that WAS the pattern of my life, until coup2k.
I am one of those foolish souls who believed their teachers when they warned, "This will go on your permanent record." It's true. I was convinced early on that any misbehavior on my part would forever ruin my resume in this world, so I tried to keep my nose squeaky-clean. This slavish devotion to "doing the right thing" didn't stop at childhood's exit. I kept it up right into my adult life. I still believed that bad behavior carried consequences.
So, I paid my taxes (overpaid them, in fact, which is why the one and only time the IRS chose to look into the tax matters of my household, they ended up writing a check, rather than receiving one), and I paid my bills. Not only did I pay my bills, but I paid them early. Any charges I placed on my credit cards, I paid in full each month. My credit report was damn-near perfect. A few months ago, a friend in the mortgage business ran my report, and told me that I could get a home loan at the most advantageous rate without having to shop around. He was a little amazed at my number.
Don't get the wrong idea. I don't have money. What I do have are very modest tastes, and an absolute loathing for shopping. This made staying out of debt easy and almost totally painless. The only exceptions I made for my personal spending habits were loved ones in need. If my cats needed medical care, if my family needed financial help, if my friends needed money, if a good cause needed support -- I provided it, and got back to my responsible fiscal policies after the crisis had passed.
Since then, I've gone for broke -- literally. I've spent money I do not have, with no reasonable expectation of ever getting it back, to fight the coup. Not only that, I've come to care less and less about what creditors in general, and credit card companies specifically, think of me. For the first time in my life, I'm just not all that concerned about my permanent record.
I remember hearing Bill Clinton and Al Gore say during the '92 campaign that they wanted to fight for people who "played by the rules" and were still falling behind. That was me, and I appreciated their concern. I also believed in it. I have no such faith in the current Oval Office Occupant.
The current Occupant has pledged his allegiance to the rule-breakers -- he is, after all, one of them -- to the detriment of "clean noses" like me. I no longer consider myself to be part of any "social contract" with this appointistration. Bush 'n Thugs, Inc. broke the first clause of that contract, the clause that says the people choose their leaders, and in return, must accept the rules they make. They broke this clause in a myriad of ways, and with an attitude of utter unconcern for their victims.
It's called "bad faith" in legal circles, and two can play that game.
I can run my credit cards sky-high with no intention of ever paying them off. I can take my excellent credit rating out for a spin for a change. I am an unmarried woman, which means no one would be harmed by what I do but me... and the companies that put Bush where he is with their millions. For their millions, they got bankruptcy "reform" at the expense of the poor and the sick... and I got absolved -- absolved of any guilt I might have felt in the past about being financially irresponsible with my credit.
Do you remember the millions in bonuses PG&E gifted their bigwigs with right before they declared bankruptcy? I do. What a wonderful notion! Credit cards are unsecured debt. This means that they are loans without collateral. There is nothing to stop someone like me from going on a wild shopping and gifting spree the day before declaring bankruptcy... nothing at all. And there is nothing the credit card companies can do to retrieve that money once spent... nothing at all, except...
Oh, how I wish I meant any of this! How I wish I didn't care -- that I could act with as much selfishness and unconcern as the coup conspirators do. But I can't. It just so happens that I am less concerned about consequences than I am about being a good person. This is another lesson I've been taught in the aftermath of this coup.
You see, as much as I know that the social contract has been forever fractured by the events of coup2k, as much as I know that I owe no allegiance or obedience to the criminals that perpetrated it, I still believe in doing the right thing. I'll find a way to pay off those credit cards, whether I want to or not. That's just the way I am. I don't know why.
Maybe it is liberal guilt. Maybe that's what it is.
Which brings me to a point: At least liberals are capable of guilt. At least we have the ability to look at our actions with a critical eye, and morally judge them. At least we don't believe our own hedonistic rationalizations -- our own self-serving hype. At least we are capable of seeing through our own BS... At least we have a conscience -- a still small voice.
Conservatives don't. And that is why they can act with such selfishness, such unconcern, and such immorality.