The Bailbondsman Approach: Why Some Of Us Stay Broke

by Jabulani Leffall on 4 April 2008 15 comments
Photo: The bailout

I  knew I was wrong but it didn't help me knowing it. I was screwed, royally flushed. On a hot summer's day I was flying down I-55 from Missouri to Chicago and rapidly running out of gas. It was a metaphor, a symbol, an exemplification, a simile of my trifling and irresponsible nature. When you run up your Texaco card buying chips and soda this is what happens. Did I mention it was hot, my shirt stuck to my back. It didn't help that my '94 Jeep Wrangler was weighed down with all my personal possessions. Even Gospels songs didn't help. Wailing like a downtrodden slave could not stop science, gravity, rapidly dissolving petroleum in liquid form. Pulled off the road and......

 I'll save that for later, suffice to say I had no money and I was about 60 plus miles away from my mom's house where I would post up for a few weeks before moving to Baltimore for my first gig. After several rebuffs and a resolution to finally call my folks and tell them to come some 65 miles to give me some money for gas, I got lucky, fortunate blessed. I pulled into a restaurant and a middle-aged white woman -- who from the perspective of a young black man in downstate Illinois seemed like the type to call the police on me -- asked me, without me even appealing to her, how much I need to get home -- a stranger to my rescue. I told her $10, she gave me $15 and now I'm able to blog for you, instead of walking down an Illinois road for the last 10 years, next month actually.

Like then and now, I am the American consumer, living above my means, thinking I can get by, by getting by, borrowing, wandering. I thought of the Good Table story - that was the name of the restaurant where I met the nice white lady - when reading about the $30 billion bailout of Bear Stearns by the Federal Reserve and the proposed $18 billion to $20 billion bailout of borrowers, some of whom, like me, ran up their metaphoric Texaco cards and left their apartment with no money, knowing it was impossible to get where they were going.

Here's a little commentary on the subject from another nice white lady and two other guys you might know. BTW, thank you comment guy for taking me back to church.

'If the Fed can extend $30 billion to help Bear Stearns address their financial crisis," Hillary Rodham Clinton argued, "the federal government should provide at least that much emergency help to families and communities to address theirs."

Billy? Could you do the honors? 

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man," said William Shakespeare.

Mr. Proverbs? 

"The borrower is servent to the lender," said King Solomon some 2500 years ago.

As much as I'm in love with Hillary, I'm gonna go with Shakey and the wise king on this one and assert that building habits of borrowing from Mama, Daddy -- Not to mention Gus the shady mortgage broker, and Uncle Sam to buy Uncle Bens and gas from Uncle Dick Cheney and his boys at Halliburton and ExxonMobil -- is what put America into a credit crunch in the first place and is what had me out there on the highway like Michael Landon.

This is a personal lesson, I'm still learning and that America needs to learn quick. If you can't reasonably afford it, don't buy it and don't be a spendthrift under the proviso that you can just pull into your version of the Good Table Diner on I-55 or call your folks or sing a sad song to a creditor to weasel out of paying.

Message: Be responsible with your money, make better choices.

Now, anybody got some gas money I could hold? Just a lil' sumpin, sumpin.

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Guest's picture
Operagost


"Neither a borrower, nor lender be," said Jesus Christ at some point when he existed some 2000 years ago.

No, he said that the borrower is slave to the lender. He also said some other things that would rightly lead one to the summary you cited. But it's dangerous to quote summaries as scripture.

Guest's picture
Guest

Is that a threat?

Jabulani Leffall's picture

If you know me, like I think you do and more important, like you think you do, then you know I don't even make promises much less threats. I'm a thoughtful guy, not easily intrigued, I also don't scare easily. Keep it comin' guest girl LOL:) This is fun. BTW, what did you think of the post? 

 

Jabulani Leffall

Monetary Gadfly, Common Currency

00000 Broke Blvd. Kitchenette #68 & 1/2

Lowcash, CA 90000-0000

Guest's picture
Olivia

Random memories.

My sister (whose husband teaches at a Christian school in Miami and because of that must have the kids in said school) was talking to the financial aid people. They asked her if the family had any debt. She said, "We can't afford to be in debt".

Growing up, we noticed one of our neigbors got a new color TV. When we asked our mom how come they had one and we didn't, she told us they borrowed. This also was the same family who ripped the foreclosure notices off their house before all the neighbors could see them.

In high school a classmate refered to a difficult year for her family. "We had gruel every morning for breakfast." It wasn't until years later I realized she meant oatmeal. The same stuff us kids grew up on. Sometimes "poor" is a matter of context. We were never rich, so it seemed normal, they had a vacation house in Avalon NJ, so to them it was scraping the bottom.

PS I like your thoughts, and am grateful for the same kinds of unexpected kindnesses shown to us over the years by others.

Guest's picture
Lucille

Even a few decades ago the idea of borrowing money was very unpleasant. Having a bank own your house was considered a bas situation you wanted out of as soon as you could. Now everyone borrows for everything, house, cars, day to day things.

Credit cards used to be more of a convenience than a tool for financing minor purchases. Our neighbors at a previous residence had paid cash for their modest 50's ranch house in 1953. He was a blue collar worker at the air base and his wife didn't work. They still live in it today.

Guest's picture
Alyson

Mattresses and televisions on credit!

Great post. Loved it. My thrifty self just ate PB &J.

Guest's picture
FinanciallyChallengedbutLearning

I love this blog and the responses I have read so far. Oh I initially wanted to comment on the PB&J oh how I love it and tuna fish, cheap and easy yet you don't feel like you are sacrificing.
In the last two years I think I have made every financial mistake known to man except for insider trading because I did not have anything to trade. But I have re-financed my house to help with kids college tuition, filed banktruptcy to buying Louis Vuitton purses I just had to have. I am learning that a savings account should have in it more than the minimum amount to keep it open. Hopefully as I continue to grow and learn my future lessons won't have to be so difficult or my head not as hard. Thank you for this forum. NY

Julie Rains's picture

It took me a while to figure out why you referenced bailbondsmen -- I am thinking that they (the Fed) make promises on someone else's behalf (Bear Stearns), guaranteeing payment if Bear skips town.

At least you knew, 10 years ago, where you were driving and the amount of money you needed to get there. Not knowing the extent of the problem (and why don't the investment banks know how much?) is what I find most disturbing.

Jabulani Leffall's picture

And what's sad about it is I don't think the people at Bear cared where they were going and what eventually would happen, as long as those advisory fees and points on vigs and trades and hedge positions were coming in, it didn't matter to them and this is why James Cayne, the CEO left with $200 million, he could've gave a rats pitootie. He had surety, he knew he would be bailed out and acted accordingly that sucks. 

 

 

Jabulani Leffall

Monetary Gadfly, Common Currency

00000 Broke Blvd. Kitchenette #68 & 1/2

Lowcash, CA 90000-0000

Guest's picture

Nothing wrong with being the borrower on good, appreciating (over the loong term) stuff like real-estate.

Nothing shabby about being the lender, either, if the vichy is good ...

Praise for the prose :)

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Guest

I am commenting more on the title than on the article, which I haven't read.

I would just like to state that in areas of my city, billboards are going up proclaiming the new ability to pay bail by credit/debit.

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Guest

I think this was a great post.
Wonderfully written, you always were a talented, thoughtful writer.

I'm not interested in taking this further. In a moment of nostalgia, mixed with an intense sadness and regret for some of the decisions I made in the past, I wrote that other note to you. What's sad is, I live with it, but do you? Certainly not.

By the way, I did not write all of those guest comments.

Best wishes

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Guest

I hope you get this "guest." Again you always underestimated how I felt about you. Time after time. With more elaboration in your last message, now I know who you are and I think about you more than I care to admit or in fact you yourself would even ever concede to. It's more convenient for you to write me off as a jerk because then you don't have to deal with ugliness and imperfection reflected in your affinity for me and vice versa. So you know I even google you from time to time. It wasn't just a game to me, you should know that it never was frivilous never was a game at all. And I didn't even have an idea until now who it was and I'm not bluffing. I KNOW who you are. I know you didn't write all of those guest writer comments but you know that I know which ones you did. Don't you think it's time though that we stopped the hot and cold, on again-off again correspondence and at least agreed to be good friends. You brought value to my life, great value and it would be a shame to let the past dictate the present or the future. I think that's the point of everything, I'm doing now, the point of my blog. Even here I admit somethings will never change and that weaknesses are there but I've always admitted my shortcomings and "limitations," and you knew then and you know now. Stop being cruel and wishy washyLOL:). We could both benefit from at least being civil again.

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Guest

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Guest

Again, a wonderful post. Many thanks.