Regret or Discipline: Which do you choose?

Posted: November 5, 2008 in Bible, bible study, children, Christian, church, faith, family, finances, friends, life, money, Personal, politics, Religion, wisdom
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In life we all ultimately have to choose between two pains: the pain of regret or the pain of discipline.

No one but God knows the consequences of our country’s choice yesterday, but we do know that living with those consequences is inevitable. It is a reality of life. We can all blame the establishment for getting us into our current financial mess. But if we are all really honest with ourselves and examine our own bank accounts and credit debt, we are forced to admit some level of responsibility.

And so now we are promised change. Will our government begin to exercise discipline in its financial dealings? Time will tell. I feel compelled to ask, how much does it have to hurt before we are motivated to discipline ourselves? Do we have to be forced by our government to spend less because we have less to spend? Maybe change doesn’t have to begin at the top, maybe change starts with me.

We are a nation of super consumers. I am contributing to the “success” of my economy by raising four mini-super consumers just like me. I think we all realize (though some may be reluctant to admit it) that we cannot buy our way to happiness. Joy is not to be found at the end of the rainbow in a pot of gold. Perhaps if our culture valued giving more than it valued taking our current state of affairs would be playing out very diffrently. We regret the decisions of the past because we did not discipline ourselves for our future.

And my four mini-super consumers? Are they destined to live with the pain of regret tomorrow?

Not if I choose to live with the pain of discipline today.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Heb 12:11

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Comments
  1. CeCe says:

    I am currently on the way to paying off all debt (except the cars and even those may go after that). As Americans we live WAYYYYY beyond our means. Credit cards are in close kinship with the devil in my opinion. Think about it…they really have done nothing but cause us to be more materialistic, shallow and stupid in our money decisions. I rarely find people that have a balance that they can pay off monthly. If you are one of those people,.. you are rare.
    CeCe

  2. morsec0de says:

    Americans just need to learn to take personal responsibility. That’s going to be an easier lesson for some than others.

  3. Rickr0ll says:

    i kinda went into this before, but it won’t be just your children who suffer the pain of discipline in trying to live in a country with no marketable skills (unless we become a nation of mercenaries) we are no longer producers, and THAT, i think, is more economically damning than merely spending too much; our biggest industry IS debt (credit cards, mortgage, insurance, student loans, et al), and it is this lack of any real backing to our economy that makes being this close to the precipace of utter ruin so frightening.
    $550,000,000,000,000, it will haunt us for many generations…

  4. CeCe says:

    I know that my debt has hindered our family from doing truly great things for the Lord’s kingdom and helping orphans (which is my greatest passion). I even went back to work full time with my two year having to go to day care (he is adopted and has some special needs) just to pay it all off in a year.

  5. Rickr0ll says:

    The dfference between the rich and the poor is greater than it has been since the Great Depression, and so it is they who must take the country and put it above their own desires.
    There was another couple of comments that i made that put it better, i’ll go and get them.

  6. Rickr0ll says:

    I don’t understand how no one has mentioned the fact that our government just made one of the largest socialist moves in our history with the buyouts of wall street. It’s unfathomable that “the market” will correct itself. It is people who control the market, so psychology has far more influence than the regulatory power of the business cycle
    (which i doubt is a cycle, more like a fractal; after all, it is a product of our nuerology, so that fingerprint is going to be there). It seems stupid for business to stop hiring people simply because they don’t want to pay taxes; if they knew anything about history, then they would know that That was exactly what contributed to the length and depth of the Great Depression. The whole market deregulation crap which is embodied in laisse-faire economics is exactly how the market came to be so drastically endangered. even if wealth accumulation isn’t a zero-sum scenario, no one can possibly deny that it IS i finite sum, and that it does get split up unequally. Well, naturally it gets doled out unequally, but the richest do hold all that they possibly can; so no, they aren’t directlly stealing from thwe poor, but they are stealing, plain and simple. It is the moral duty for the exceeedingly rich to get as much of that cash back into the system

    Posted by: amk | November 8, 2008 6:50 PM

    I submit a quote from Adam Smith, from Wealth of Nations:

    The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. (there was strong emphasis on this part )

    My response:
    I agree on this stance with Adam Smith amk, that the wealth of a nation is largely the responsibility of the rich, because they do have that unfair advantage over middle class and poor peoples. I wish that all this dumping money into lobbying would be ended. I can’t see how that will happen though…
    In regards to dog-ears, can’t you look at all of the work done during the great depression as Pork-barrel politics? i mean, there’s nothing wrong if it givess pleople jobs and rebuilds infrastructure…

    Oh, i can’t believe that we’ve been talking all this time about economics and i never brougt up the issue of the population bomb. you know, the one where it slowly ticks time down until there are so many people that the global economy collapses… thought?

  7. Rickr0ll says:

    Whoops, somehow the most important part of Adam Smiths quote dissapered: (there was strong emphasis on this part) “It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”
    There we go

  8. Rickr0ll says:

    it saddens me to always have the last word like this. isn’t there anyhone who wants to discuss anything on this site?

  9. Nance says:

    Rick-
    I have been reading your comments and you have made some valid points, but you seem to be all over the board. Your comments regarding business reveals your inexperience in that field so I am not convinced that a discussion would achieve anything. However, I would pose one question to you.

    How do you define “rich”?

  10. Rickr0ll says:

    “rich” is that point wherin the principle balance in the bank ensures that you no longer need to actually do anything, and you can live well off on the interest from your money alone. I think of wealth as beginning at 750,000 a year and going up. that doesn’t necessarilty coincide with “rich”, but i would point out that it is these people that have the greatest economic freedom (if these people can’t pay thier bills, it is because they are not being very intelligent with their income at all). and while it is true that the rich aren’t participating in a zero sum scenario to obtain that weath, the fact that america produces very little and has such tremendous trade debt doesn’t leave the GNP to be quite large enough for the majority of americans to benifit.
    the top one percent make 60% of the money after all, and the top .1 percent make something like 30% (this second one don’t quote me on, i’m not entirely certain). The problem is that these people can easily make tax write off’s for everything and so thier contribution (though very great) is still rather favoring of them, making them secure in thier lifestyles. Bill Gates taxes are pitance compared to his income for precisely the reason that he has such a great amount of effort in charity work. More power to him for that. However, i think there is some point that those write-offs become somewhat of an economic cop-out. I know there’s a better way to say it, but hopefully if i keep going it will sound less like a case of class warefare.
    All taxes based on gas and consumer products are insignificant to them, while to many, these simple taxes become overwhelming because they are a sustiancial piece of thier income. This is not the case for the rich at all. they do contribute a hefty amount of the tax money (80% some estimates say), but their lifestyles as i try to point out, are rather lavish nonetheless. i think it is important to try and bolster the growth of the middle class, in any way shape or form, even if it is at the expense of the rich, because, let’s be honest, they stand to make tremendous gain pout of the current situation. some already have, of course.
    I know you may not stand to gain much from discussison Nance, but at the very least you could perhaps cure me of my naivete, as it were. i implore you to continue with this duscussion.

    Oh, and the reason that my comments seem to sprawl the landscape is because the comments were taken from a Pharangyla post (purple america, if i am not mistaken). There was alot of discussion going on there about economics.

  11. Nance says:

    Rick-
    Let’s try to focus in on one definition that we can both agree to, otherwise this discussion will be apples to me and oranges to you, hence achieving nothing. “Rich” as a comparative term can mean something different to everyone. We are all at a different place in our finances, personally, nationally and globally. So let’s focus on the area that you and I can have the greatest impact, our personal finances.

    Now, I have lived on both ends of the wealth spectrum. Eight years ago with four children and qualifying for WIC assistance. Seven years later we are in the top 10% of income earners in the nation. At every stage of this journey I had obligations to my community, my state, and my country in the way of taxes. Likewise the community, state and nation had obligations toward me in the way of services rendered; be it in the way of security, food, healthcare, education, etc. Now the services granted to me worked inversely, granted greater services the less I contributed.

    Perhaps you have not had much interaction with the poor, I do not know. I have. I have been there and even now I interact with the impoverished. There is a dirty little secret that your economic professors will scarcely mention in passing. Welfare breeds more poverty. If you want more poverty, subsidize a greater portion of the income spectrum.

    I hear it in your comments, that sense of entitlement that our welfare system has bred. We subsidized our banks and now the auto industry wants a hand out. When does it end?

    There are many ways to be rich. Money is just one. I always considered myself “rich” because my hope was not in my bank account or in the health of our economic system. Perhaps a balanced way to measure wealth is the level of satisfaction one experiences. I have been “rich” with little and I have been “rich” with abundance. The purpose of this article is to encourage readers to examine their own fiscal responsibility to their neighbor.

    The way I see it, the more I have the more I can give away. Believe me, this is a foreign concept to many. When we shopped for a home recently, all the realtor saw were dollar signs. She couldn’t understand that we chose to give away a portion of our income. We did not want a half a million dollar home regardless of what we could afford.

    I write all of this to lead to this point. Rich seems to be less about what my stuff is worth to me, and more about what my stuff is worth to you. I am “rich” because I have what you want. But the reality is; I am poor because none of it is mine. I think our nation needs a reality check not a stimulus check.

  12. Rickr0ll says:

    before moving on i would like to ask you: how exactly did you manage to get that far in 7 (or 8) years?
    “I am poor because none of it is mine.” I thought christians were into thie stewardship thing. you are supposed to behave as if it is your stuff, that way, you will take care of it better. The govenrmnet has no qualms whatsoever on spending money that isn’t theirs, so your conclusion seems to be rather off-base. you start off by saying “personal finances” which, if they weren’t yours, would be contradictory. are you obfuscating? i’m asking for a dollars and cents approach, not your philosophy, i’m sorry.

    if you had read my comments you would understand that i’m outraged by the fact that many businesses took the opportunity to increasee thier assets by buying out their competitors that were failing. You know that the Bailout of Wall Street Bill – that was laden with 104 billion dollars of pork, by the way – is one of the more socailist moves in all of our nations economic history. Nonetheless, i will review what i’ve said and get back to you more thouroughly.

  13. Rickr0ll says:

    or 8 years

  14. Nance says:

    We improved our financial situation the same way many others do: sacrifice and hard work.

    When I say I am poor because it is not mine, who do you think I am implying owns it all? You and I operate within two very different worldviews. If I am confusing you I apologize, I cannot expect you to understand my reasons for stewardship, but you can understand that it is a big part of our lifestyle.

    We are in agreement that the moves to bailout wallstreet and nationalize the banks was a giant step away from capitalism toward socialism. Perhaps we can even agree that this is not a good thing.

    “Perhaps if our culture valued giving more than it valued taking our current state of affairs would be playing out very diffrently.”

    What are your thoughts on living out this statement for yourself?

  15. Nance says:

    You reject a new philosophy and asked for a dollar and cents approach. Do you really think that one can change their behavior with money without changing their attitude?

  16. Rickr0ll says:

    “giving more than taking” speaking of which, it’s Christamas time again! I don’t know how it got to sneek past Thanksgiving, but it did. I would say that That is an exaple of people wanting to give, and give, and give…. lol. Kidding, we all know it is about the money.
    There have been several people who think that nationalizing charity work and community service (or rather, instituting it as a staple of our society) would be a worthwhile endevour. I can fully understand that type of move, and would get behind it any day.

  17. Nance says:

    Nationalized charity . . . are you serious? Why don’t we reinstate the draft, too?

    Forced volunteerism is not volunteerism.

  18. morsec0de says:

    “Forced volunteerism is not volunteerism.”

    Does that matter if you’re helping people?

    I’m sincerely asking, I’m not sure how I feel either way.

  19. Nance says:

    Let’s look at it from the side of the one being served. Say for instance, I am homeless and my family and I are being served a meal by a dozen people who are forced by the state to be there. They hate every minute of it and they grow more angry and hostile with every plate they have to serve to “these people” who are taking away time from something else they would rather be doing.

    Right now the people who serve the homeless are there because they choose to be there. We serve because we sincerly care. There is no hostility, but words of encouragement. The offering of service is an outflow of the heart of the one offering it.

    The same idea works in our armed forces. We have a uniquely strong military because it is completely volunteer. The people who serve do it because they want to, not because they are forced to. Reinstateing the draft would compromise our security, in much the same way forcing volunteerism compromises the security of those being served.

  20. Rickr0ll says:

    Can you say “Strawman”? besides, what about all those lovely scholorships that require you to do at least some volunteer work. what you are saying is ridiculous.
    Compared to Isreal’s tiny, efficient army ours is a lumbering giant. And guess what, they are required to serve! Your argument clearly is out of touch with what reality is and what would help.

  21. Rickr0ll says:

    anyway, they never said WHAT KIND of volunteer work had to be done. I’ve volunteered for the local Odd Fellows Hall (ironic, i know), and i thought it was great.

  22. Rickr0ll says:

    one last thing, and i know this is an annoying thing to Protestants, but “Faith without works is dead.” in other words, faith necessarly prduces works that we would be considered, by all conserned to be Christ-like. It is the complete failure to grasp this concept which makes the Protestant Reformation, in my mind, to be one of the greatest failures of a religious institution. (in addition to the fact that all the necessary tools to become knowledgable about the world became much more common place, which led, over time, to the present schism between the scientists and the believers) I say this not because i believe that works are necessary to go to heaven, but that the argument “by faith alone” is a non-sequiter.

  23. Nance says:

    rick-
    What are you trying to achieve with comments like that? If my argument is a strawman argument you should be able to very logically and concisely dismantle it with out all of your emotional tirades and personal attacks. You expect me to treat you with respect, you should be held to the same standard. Otherwise, don’t waste my time.

  24. Rickr0ll says:

    What personal attacks are you referring? ok one time i said “what you are saying is ridiculous.” perhaps that was a stretch. And i was inferring Protestantism (word?) as a whole when i stated that “faith alone” is a non-sequiter. i never attacked you. your argument is worth more than your attitude, as far as i’m concerned. Being all defensive and victimized because i use exclamation points is disingenious. you’ve been far more emotional than i have, and i don’t have a problem with it at all; but using it as an excuse to ignore what i’m saying is not going to get us anywhere. Right?

  25. Nance says:

    I’m still waiting for you to dazzle me with your precise logical argument. . .

  26. Rickr0ll says:

    the bail out situatiion? I’m not sure anyone has a Good answer to it. It’s a lose lose situation. Let the companies go under, and millions of poeple will be out of jobs, bail them out and you will essentially be rewarding failure, as you said. However, the groups that ought to be bailing out the car companies has always assumed to be the government, however, the biggest debt of thanks has to go to the oil companies, because of the boondogle that is the “green SUV” and similar projects (ethanol being the biggest laugh of them all- it is completely covered over by the additional cost of food). No car conpanies in the US have ever given over to energy effeciency, and the world market is primed for big developments in this area; the corperations that ought to continue to support this trend in the automotive industry are the ones who will undoubtably profit the most from it. Oh, and it would generally help if the ones that control these corperations to invest more of thier money onto saving them. The owners are the ones who ought to pay for what is ultimately thier mistake, by risking it all to get the corporation back on track, as opposed to simply asking the Government to hand out the dough,
    which leads to substantially more debt because we get that on loan from other wiser countries (according to Wikepedia, Japan, China, and Britain are the top three countries that we owe cash to. I’ll go and find the link)
    If you ask me what needs to be done, it is move away from the ultimately finite sources of energy and expend some in the direction of energy production. Beaming solar energy down from space in the form of microwaves is one such possiblility, and another is a return to the moon. Helium 3, a rare isotope on earth, could very well pave the way to fission technology that would be massively helpful to alleviating the stress that comes from this addiction to foriegn oil. Energy is the future, and the country that manages to find itself on top of that market stands to be the next Supergiant, and if america wants to regain that status, these measures must be taken. Again, i’ll look for the links on pharyngula, and be back later. I don’t know how dazzling or precise it is, but it seems to be a reasonable conclusion.

  27. Rickr0ll says:

    well crap. for some reason i can’t copy links anymore. i don’t understand what is the issue. i guess it will be a while for thise links. sorry

  28. Nance says:

    Great, Rick. You are making sense. Since you and I have a greater impact on our own pocketbook rather than that of our government, can we get back to the personal side of finances? How do you impliment the virtues we have been discussing? Giving, financial responsibility, service to the less fortunate, etc. Is it true that if our culture valued giving more than taking, we would all be in a better circumstances? Why do you suppose that is? Why is giving better than taking?

  29. Rickr0ll says:

    because socialism isn’t as evil as you make it out to be? Consider all the affluent European nations. Many engage in weaker incarnations of socialism, and FDR was a socialist on accout of what he did while in office, and Unions love Obama the Socialist lol (my mom works fro the AFL-CIO in fact; amazing health benefits). FDR didn’t (and couldn’t really) help in a fundamental way, but it was a nice thing to do regardless, and was a relief from the suffering. He is without a doubt, one of the greatest Presidents in our history, regardless of the fact that his policies were overall failures.

    However, the work on the infrastructure and energy aspects of America were what drove the prisperity that was the 50’s in particular and upwards until the Reagan era, where our insipid lust for “stuff” was beginning to dig our current pit. Ironic how the fiscal policy of the govenrment was emulated in the populous as well. Perhaps this has to do with the lack of realistic comparisons to ourselves in society, but instead wish to compete with others in completely differnt tax brackets (Juliet B. Schor- The Overspent American, “The Culture of Consumerism”, 1998)

    WWII was what got us out of the 30’s officially, and in fact, all wars since the Civil War the US has ever been in have been very profitable, with 2 glaring exceptions… gee, i guess it was all those tax cuts and 0 financial responsibility from Americans – endorsed by Bush, i might add. but that needs to be forgotten. I guess you could say that i am financially negligable, sad to say. the awkward hours of my classes make work difficult in addition to the fact that no one wants to hire at this point.

    I still stand by what i said earlier in that this is the time when corperate owners and executives need to dig deep and hold on, instead of impovrishing citizens. I think contracting out enormous jobs in the third world to build infrastructure would be both benificial and perhaps profitable, even if it is a low margin taken back; the friends that we would win over would be worth the trouble, and since the industrialization of the third world is/will be the single biggest event in history, i say that getting some trade debt coming back our way for a change from grateful nations would be something to look forwatd to!

    The best thing for us individuals to do is to chop up our credit cards and pay them off as soon as possible. Student loans are a huge detriment, and take decades to pay off. Not something we want. But again, given that the U.S has no real industries, i can’t say how well.

    Saving. it is essentaial. After all, FDIC still insures. It is the psychology of a recession that deppens and widens it. I think the monetary wisdom of those who grew up during the Depression to be utterly invaluable, and it would be wise to take a letter from them, if such knowledge is available.

    The specifics of what people need to do is a whole lot less complicated, so sorry for giving your question so little air time, comparetively. However, a look at Shor’s essay would more than make up for the drought lol.

  30. Rickr0ll says:

    “given that the U.S. has no real industries. i can’t say how well”… such efforts will help to fix the core issues. Those being outright economic stupididty, and our breathtaking debt in general.

  31. Nance says:

    You haven’t answered any of the questions I posed to you. You are talking about everyone else’s responsibility but your own. I think we are done here.

  32. Rickr0ll says:

    We all have the same responsibilities! did you look up that article?! if not, then you aren’t addressing the most important personal statemaent of responsibility that i was making. I answered your questions perfectly fine. You don’t need to delude yourself in to thinking that i’ve evaded the questions. Besides, what about the statements i’ve made? Do NONE of them deserve comment? The only one who’s time was wasted was mine, so don’t even pretend that your glibb remarks constitute a serious discussion!

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