Hump Day Hmmm 1-23-08

What makes you go hmmm? Check out Julie at Using My Words for more takes on this topic. Or better yet, use your words and join us!

When you look at American society today, it’s a little hard to wrap your head around it. There is so much about our society right now that is worrisome that it was hard to pick one issue that I thought deserved special attention. But after some serious thoughts I decided that the Cult of Instant Gratification is the biggest threat to our society.

As a whole, we have come to expect everything NOW. It’s all “on demand”, “thirty minutes or it’s free”, “buy now, pay later”. I can fall into this trap as well. But we need to be more careful, because this way of thinking is highly destructive, and not just in the obvious areas.

Let’s start with the obvious first: Consumer spending. It is now the cultural norm to get something now, and worry about paying for it later. Now I’m not saying all debt is bad. Constructive debt, like mortgages, student loans, and car payments (within reason) are good. Even responsible short term financing for a large purchase isn’t something to get worried about. But what about those “convenience checks” that come in the mail and entice you to spend it on yourself? Or putting a small purchase on your Home Improvement Store card with no payments for 90 days? Or, and this would never happen, what about obtaining a mortgage that you really can’t afford? What happens when those bills finally come due? Well, they usually won’t get paid off all the way, and you use the card a little more, and then a little more. And then you get into trouble. If you get enough people at the same time who are having trouble…

But it’s not like we’re getting the best of examples from our Uncle. You know, Uncle Sam? He’s been borrowing and borrowing for years. With no real plan on how to pay it back, I might add. Right now, things are looking a little scary. So, what’s our plan? Give people more money so they can spend it. That’s right, we will (probably) be given money in the hopes, nay expectation, that we will go and be irresponsible with it. By the way, where is this money coming from anyway? If there was all of this extra cash just laying around the halls of government, wouldn’t it be better to spend it on schools or our crumbling infrastructure? Ah, but those are results we have to wait for. And we have to see some results now.

The Cult can influence some less obvious areas as well. First, our children. We want our children to behave and behave NOW. But what if it takes them a little longer to settle down? Well, we have a pill for that. What about education? We need a quick fix, so instead of seeing what works, let’s find the minimum each child needs to know (and who decides *that* btw), and give them a test on that. We’ll see some results in pretty short order, I’m sure. And in college? The number of engineering and scientific degrees keeps declining. Could it be that careers in these fields don’t command the same out of the gates salaries that law and business do? Or is it because these areas are seen as being “harder” and require more work?

The Cult is influencing our health, too. Need to eat in a hurry, so let’s stop off at the drive through. Feeling in the dumps? Here’s a pill, or perhaps you’d prefer that in a patch? (Not that for some people these pills aren’t lifesavers, but how often would you suspect they are overprescribed?) No time for the gym? Here’s a device that in four minutes a day will give you the body you’ve always dreamed of!

The Cult has caused us all to forget about waiting, watching, and working to make something happen. It rewards instant results, no matter how they are gotten, at the expense of long term accomplishment. By continually seeking the short term solution, we are in danger of having these issues repeat themselves, usually with more dire consequences, in the future.

So, what are we to do? We need to start making the hard choices. We need to start deciding what our priorities are and make sure those get taken care of. We need leaders who are not afraid to tell the truth about how problems need to be fixed. And we need to be strong enough to hear that truth and elect them anyway.

The next time you hear the Cult knocking at your door, stop and think. Take a moment to fully understand the actions you are about to take on their behalf, and then act accordingly. If we can all do this, I think this society can still deprogram itself. We’ll just have to wait and see.


8 responses to “Hump Day Hmmm 1-23-08

  1. Oh Melissa, well-done. This strikes at the heart of so much, and is even a support to some of my points about the immediate focus. I’m struggling beyond saying bravo (LOL).

    You know, the side argument about the debt is WHAT the debt is going to. We’re accruing debt. Why? Dog health care, expenses beyond our budget (which is so tight—I appreciate Obama lumping us into the lower class with $5000/year to spare), and so forth. We are one crisis away from destruction. We make cuts and good choices as we can, but life is getting so expensive, and we aren’t earning more money.

    I think we represent so many citizens.

    It’s easy to say it’s all gratuitous spending and I bet a lot is, but it’s also people going into debt to finance groceries and doctor visits.

    Low spending at Christmas and now they admit a recession. DUH some of us knew it a while back and curtailed spending because we didn’t have the money.

    Okay cut off…good post. 🙂

  2. This hits on such a big issue in our culture. Thanks so much for posting on it! I think it even comes down to adjusting our expectations for what we really need. I know people who get by well on very little because they manage to see many things as wants that I see as needs.

    And I think a big part of the cure is in how we parent our kids. We need to learn that good payoffs take hard work and teach that to our children too.

    Great post! And can I really get the body I’ve always wanted for only $14,000 and four minutes a day? Think I can put that on my Visa?

  3. painted maypole

    oh… you are so right about all of this.

    thanks for stopping by my blog!

  4. There are some nice comments here. I think a lot of it began with remote controls. Do you remember having to get up to change the channel? I channel surf so fast now it makes me dizzy sometimes. Although I will stop and watch the new Domino’s commercials. Have you seen the one with the guy making a suggestive comment to his wife? Really funny.

  5. Unfortunately the nation’s economy depends on people spending on credit. i must say, though, that I get those convenience checks two or three times a week, and they all end up going through the shredder.

  6. Great post, Melissa! Thanks for stopping by.

    Blessed be! Life is good.

  7. I think this “I want it now” idea goes right along with the nation’s entitlement mindset. There was a time in our country where the only things that were unailiable rights were life. liberty, and the chance for each person to pursue happiness. Now, we think that education is a right, medical care is a right, and having a 5 figure job is a right. When we implement things like the minimum wage and buy now pay later, and welfare, then people think they have a right to stuff without working for it or a right to only have to work if its a job they like. We wouldn’t need so many illegal immigrants to boost our economy if we didn’t all feel like we deserved stuff that we should only get when we work for it.

  8. Here here to the original post and to LE35. Our society is overrun by the “Me” generation’s mindset (and no, it is not only the members of that generation who feel that way). We’re also overrun with people who have no idea what personal responsibility is, let alone exercise it. The more our citizens expect the government to do, the less we get to choose for ourselves. Give me back Reagan. Give me back more of my dollars so I can choose for myself how to spend it.

    In high school, I took AP Government, and we were given the challenge of eliminating the deficit in seven years. I did it in two, then the debt in ten. Every year I had a tax cut except the first. That was over a decade ago, but it’s still achievable. We just have to change our spending. A good start is to take away the money we send to Washington.

    Once again, great post.

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