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Ants and Grasshoppers

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Revenant

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My wife has an acquaintance she’s known for a number of years. This friend and her husband go on about 3 Disney Vacations a year.

A couple of weeks ago, on the same day we were starting our self-isolation - with coronavirus cases already increasing in our area - they decide to go on an impromptu / unplanned trip to Florida to go to Disney World. The park started shutting down while they were there, and they stayed in their hotel a few more days before coming home. Instead of picking up supplies on their way in they arrived back in town to all the stores being closed, empty shelves at the grocery store, etc. Now they’ve both been furloughed and aren’t working and they’re posting about it on Facebook saying that they have their church and their faith to help see them through.

Why should anyone be helping them right now? This was foreseeable. They should have been able to see the direction this was going in when they left on their trip. Instead, knowing what industries they work in, they go on an expensive trip.

My wife and I haven’t been on a vacation in 2.5 years. The cruise we have planned for October is supposed to be our first trip together in 3 years - but we have savings and we have food. We’ve survived a year-long stretch of unemployment and I never had to sell my coins. We survived all the financial hardship of Sam’s birth without ever asking for help or wondering where the rent was coming from. It was hard. It was depressing seeing all the loss of that hard-earned savings and seeing the financial set-back, but we road it out.

This couple talked about thinking about giving up their 3rd (unplanned) child for adoption because they didn’t know how they could afford it and then less than a year later bought a 3,000 sq. ft. house. Who does that?

I work in a very cyclical industry and everyone that’s been in it for a while knows that we have good times and very sharp down turns and hard times. I still see people that are earning $100,000-200,000 a year, buying expensive houses and $20,000 furniture sets. Then they get laid off and have no savings and a pile of debt and they don’t know what they’re going to do.

Have people always been this way? When did we forget the wisdom of the ant and become the grasshopper?

I have the greatest sympathy in this time for people that live at the margins and who barely scrape by, but I cannot respect these people that I see who could use the good times to prepare for the bad and they just… don’t. Then they cry and whine pitifully.

It is just so frustrating some days to sit here, watching everyone go off and have their fun while you’re trying to pay down debt faster and make responsible decisions for the future - but I know my kids will be fed and taken care of.

/rant

I guess this makes 18 days of self-isolation for the family.

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Have people always been this way?

No. The further removed from hard times like the Great Depression a generation is, the less prepared (or concerned) they seem to be for hard times. Those of us whose grandparents and parents grew up having to struggle just to get by tend to think more like the ant.

 

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I know where you are coming from but I disagree. Did the people you are referring to act foolishly? Yes. Were the people you are referring to living above their means? Yes. Are the people you are referring to making rash decisions, especially concerning their children? Yes, yes, and yes.

On the other hand you should be commended for making all the hard choices and toughing it out. Your children are blessed for having you and your wife as their parents. You have made the best choices possible to ensure that you and your family will weather this crisis and I trust that you all will be the better for it when it passes.

Like you I am well positioned to weather this out. When I retired, I drew up a strict budget on an excel spreadsheet to live by. Now a year and three months later I found that I could live comfortably on half my salary without skipping a beat in our lifestyle. When I took the buyout package my company offered, instead of buying my dream coins I paid off my house. Now the chickens are coming home to roost in a good way even after watching 20-25% of my retirement savings go up in smoke in less than a month. Fortunately, I sold some of my portfolio in January and placed it in a cash account. In July this will be supplemented by social security. All good decisions made at the right time because now cash is king. I heard someone speculate yesterday that they are surprised there hasn't been a run on the banks yet. I hope things don't get that bad because in the end, "We are all in this together."

Here is where I diverge from your well written blog. I refuse to compromise my mercy and compassion for anyone suffering through these unprecedented times. Even for those who made unwise choices. The people you talk about are going to a church for help and that is good. I am a Christian and firmly trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Jesus never turned away people who made bad choices and were truly repentant. Just look at the women caught in adultery, the women at the well, and on Good Friday the thief on the cross. As for me I can do no other. After the COVID-19 passes countless people are going to reassess their priorities and make positive changes in their lives. I pray this will bring about real change in our society. Maybe the people buying that furniture and those houses will think twice before mortgaging their future away. However, before any of this can happen we need to get as many people as possible through this crisis, the marginalized of our society and the more well to do.

Finally, I see this crisis as an opportunity. An opportunity to show Christ's love to others. Though I am spending LOTS of time with my wife at home away from others I am looking for ways I can help anyone who seeks it. We'll see, right now I just pray that people who are not currently infected don't get infected and those that are recover. Really that's all any of us can do right now. Coins while fun and important in my life don't light a candle to my faith and family. In the end if I need my coins to live on, then so be it. Gary  

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6 minutes ago, Just Bob said:

Those of us whose grandparents and parents grew up having to struggle just to get by tend to think more like the ant.

 

I grew up in a house with my grandmother, who was born in 1924. I never understood as a child why anyone would get so happy / excited over getting a loaf of bread that was just "so fresh and soft." I guess that still influences how I plan and prepare, but I never want to go through a period when I worry about affording food.

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I have to agree with Gary. all of us have been grasshoppers at some time in our life its like growing up, 21 doesn't make you an adult. There are a lot of 40 year old that need to grow up and a lot of 18 year old  that are way beyond their age in the way they make choices. Some become ants a lot sooner than others. Hopefully those going through a rough time will learn from this and become more like the ant. During the great depression there wasn't much money. People banded together and helped each other. That is what made our great country strong. Back then God was in a lot of the decision making . We have to remember that times change but GOD never does. He always makes the right decision and with his help and learning to wait on him to guide us through the short time we are here on earth most of our decisions will be the right ones. (Patience grasshopper) We are all part of Gods great plan for creation and he wants us to strive to possess the unconditional love for each other that he shows to us. I am surely not a preacher but in my 73 years have never been happier than I am now. The coins are a great hobby and wish someone else in my family enjoyed it half as much as I do. Maybe one of the grand kids will, who knows. I think God for every tomorrow and try to live for him every day.

 

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7 hours ago, gherrmann44 said:

 I pray this will bring about real change in our society...

 

1 hour ago, Eagles Nest said:

I have to agree with Gary. all of us have been grasshoppers at some time in our life ...

 

You're both good guys / good men and I respect your opinions on this. I don't rejoice in the suffering of others and I've given aid the past whether I felt it was deserved or not, just because I don't think children should suffer because their parents are pinheads. However, I don't share your faith in people in general and these people in particular. They've shown me too much in the last 5 years for me to think they'll get things together and start preparing for the future in a more responsible way.

As far as positive change in society? My Facebook feed is starting to look like the precursor to a modern re-imagining of the French Revolution. Even if we do somehow get to a better place at the other side of this, I suspect it's going to get extremely ugly first.

Edited by Revenant

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No doubt your FB friends will be joining the ranks of gofundme hopefuls.  

The good news for them is it seems everyone will be getting gofunded by our government

It looks like coin collectors are disproportionately ants.  these auctions I've been bidding in the last 2 weeks have not shown any evidence of easy pickings.

Anyways, this country has turned before and in our lifetimes from a country of mostly ants to mostly grasshoppers.

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1 hour ago, deposito said:

It looks like coin collectors are disproportionately ants.  these auctions I've been bidding in the last 2 weeks have not shown any evidence of easy pickings.

Anyways, this country has turned before and in our lifetimes from a country of mostly ants to mostly grasshoppers.

Well, the coin collectors are going to tend to be disproportionately older. Given that, whether you see it as coming from proximity to / experience with past hard times (Per Just Bob) or as a process of maturing with age (Per Eagles Nest), you're going to see them tend to be more fiscally conservative and more prepared for times like these than the people in my generation (Millennials - I'm an old millennial, but I'm still included with them).

Edited by Revenant

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Interesting journal entry and certainly some food for thought, as long as folks continue to get bailed out be it by a government or a church the lesson is not learned.  I read Gary's reply and I 100% agree that its the right thing to help others when you can, but its somewhat naïve to think that all those people will pivot in place and change their ways.  That will not happen we need look no farther back than the 07-09 timeframe when the housing market crashed because of these very same irresponsible behaviors, you would have thought that people would have learned from that but sadly no.  There are numerous contributors to all of this, lack of emphasis on history in our schools, massive immigration without assimilation, most folks today have no idea just how difficult a time the great depression really was because we as a society are too far removed from that time.  And perhaps; imo; the greatest factor is the people have become accustomed and even reliant on government bailouts.  People have become dependent on the government to the point that being prepared is just not even thought about.  Those are just some of the reasons why many people in our society have and will continue to make poor choices when it comes to financial maters, lessons not learned lead to the same failures over and over again.

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