Tag: economic burden

Put It on My Tab

A friend of mine once cut up her credit cards and closed her accounts because, she said, “those pieces of plastic are evil.”

creditcards

I thought this was a bit overly dramatic (she was that type of person). I also thought it was convenient to blame her chronic debt on inanimate objects rather than, say, her nonexistent self-control and materialistic tendencies.

In any case, we all know people who live beyond their means, and it’s true that many individuals teeter on the edge of bankruptcy because of their shopping addictions or love of new shoes or willingness to fly first-class to Italy for the hell of it.

But a recent study has found that when it comes to Hispanics, living large is often not the reason for going into the red. The study found that almost half (43%) of Latinos who have credit card debt depend on the plastic to pay for basic living expenses. And a significant chunk of the rest are using credit cards for tiny splurges at best.

So if Latinos are not slapping down credit cards on impulse buys and charging luxury items, why are they in so much debt?

Well, Hispanics report that the main reason for their debt is the loss of a job, and they’re more likely than other groups to say that medical costs also contributed to their financial issues.

The researchers theorize that because Latinos lost so much of their wealth in the Great Recession, they’re having trouble restocking checking or savings accounts. So putting basic items or medical expenses on credit cards often seems to be the only option.

This, of course, sucks. But as is often the case, the survey also found that Latinos are more optimistic than the overall population. So they’re more confident about paying down their credit card debt quickly.

This optimism, which borders on delusion, leads to some interesting contradictions.

For example, another poll found that almost half of Latinos (49%) said they were worried that someone in their household might become unemployed soon. Yet the same survey found that almost three-quarters of Latinos (73%) are optimistic about their finances and future opportunities.

Frankly, that’s a bizarre balancing act of fear and hope.

But maybe these results just show that Latinos are still jumpy about their financial status, years after the economic meltdown. The Great Recession so ravaged Hispanic households that many Latinos are leery about declaring that the worst is over.

At the same time, Latinos tend to be more optimistic than other groups about their future. The main reason for this positivism seems to be the immigrant mindset. Many Hispanics remember struggling in their home countries, or they hear the harrowing tales of their parents. As such, these Latinos usually have more faith in the American system and a stronger belief that their financial situation will improve.

We should all really, really hope they’re right.

 


Show Them the Money

I used to write for a website whose target audience was upscale Hispanic men. My job was to find the hippest, most happenin’, muy caliente places and products.

Of course, I soon grew weary of writing for guys who think $5,000 stereo speakers are their god-given right. But I also got tired of explaining the gig to people who asked, “Just how many rich Latino guys can there be?”

To continue reading this post, please click here.

 

 


Party On

Due to unusual circumstances that I won’t even get into, I found myself at a ritzy event, surrounded by wealthy individuals. I happened to be standing near the door, and I saw members of the one percent walk in.

For the most part, they were polite and just like you and me. However, the exceptions were numerous enough to notice.

To continue reading this post, please click here.


Remember, Envy Is a Deadly Sin

“There’s class warfare, alright. But it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war. And we’re winning.”

—Warren Buffett

Eat the rich!

—Aerosmith

In Manlio’s Argueta’s gripping novel, One Day of Life, soldiers of a repressive Central American government beat and abuse poor villagers. The peasants’ crime, as one militaristic thug puts it, is that “they don’t love the rich.”

It’s a rather harsh reaction to expressing displeasure with the ruling class. We haven’t come to that in the United States, at least not yet.

Still, the concept of class warfare, invoked primarily by right-wing politicians, holds that middle-class and poor people are simply jealous of rich individuals, or that they are being riled up to hate the wealthy.

To continue reading this post, please click here.



Climbing Out of the Hole

As of right now, America still has a functioning economy. We’re not sure if we can pay all our bills, of course, and maybe China will just take ownership soon and have a fire sale on things we never use, like national parks and the state of North Dakota.

But for now, we’re still standing. That fact means different things to different people, however.

For example, the gap between Hispanics and prosperity has rarely been so vast.

To continue reading this post, please click here.


Marketing 101

Many thanks to everyone who has recently commented on my posts. You’re all in the running for copies of Raul Ramos y Sanchez’s novels as part of my latest giveaway.

I have to admit, however, that Emmasota’s comment about the Dream Act’s demise conjured up an unpleasant memory for me.

You see, last year I worked with a nonprofit to advocate for the passage of the Dream Act. I knew the odds were long, and of course, the legislation ultimately didn’t pass.

But I would feel better today about fighting the good fight if I hadn’t known, at the time, that our approach was doomed. I had a queasy sensation early on, when I saw one of the video packages that the nonprofit put together (I wasn’t involved with that stage of the campaign).

The video featured kids who would directly benefit from the Dream Act’s passage. Much of it was good, with heart-tugging stories from all-American, clean-cut teens.

But then the bottom fell out. The voiceover threw around terms like “fairness” and “justice.” And one of the teens stated that he “deserved” the rights that the Dream Act would confer.

I knew it was over as soon as the kid said that word.

Americans don’t want to hear that anybody deserves anything. Hell, many citizens will lose their minds if one implies that they deserve basic healthcare (and that’s in their own self-interest!). They certainly don’t want to hear that some whiny kid who wasn’t even born in this country “deserves” his rights.

Sending a video to media outlets and political leaders that featured this tone-deaf tactic just stunned me. Clearly, many advocates of immigration reform haven’t learned the importance of basic marketing.

They continue to push the compassion angle, or back up their assertions with facts that impress no one.

But if the Bush years taught us anything, it’s that sympathy is for suckers. More important, we learned that the truth is irrelevant. Or it’s at least a distant second to proper messaging.

How else do you think conservatives got an overwhelming majority of Americans to embrace a war that made absolutely no sense?

Other progressive movements have learned this tactic.

For example, gay rights are also issue of fairness and basic justice. Yet, advocates of repealing the DADT Policy went easy on this essential truth. Instead, they successfully presented the issue as one that was necessary to America’s well-being.

The message was, basically, “We need all the help we can get establishing a strong military and intelligence network. This will keep America safe, so drop your prejudice in favor of simple self-preservation.”

It worked. DADT is history.

Immigration-reform advocates need to adopt this strategy. Instead of pointing out about how unfair or irrational our policies are — which is true but a loser’s lament — hit people in the wallet by making it clear that a massive-deportation philosophy will cost them money. Or hammer home the idea that policies such as the Dream Act will improve the economy and strengthen the military.

In other words, let’s see more about how immigration reform will benefit current citizens, instead of pleading that civil rights be extended to strangers.

It may not be pretty, or even that principled. But it has to be more effective than what we’ve accomplished so far.


You Can’t Kill Optimism

With hope, this is the last post I will write about the Great Recession. Like every American, I cannot say goodbye and good riddance quickly enough to this horrific period of economic malaise.

By the way, is the word “malaise” ever used in any context other than economic? But I digress.

The past few years have been, to use sophisticated analytical terms, a total financial clusterfuck. And yes, Latinos were hit harder than most.

I’ve written before about the sky-high unemployment rate among Hispanics and plummeting rates of remittances to Latin America and general economic depression in the Hispanic community. To put a capstone on these stats, the National Hispana Leadership Institute released a study showing how sucky it is to be Latino right now, particularly if you’re older. The study was undertaken with AARP, so it looked at Latinos age forty-five or older.

What they found was that Hispanics in this age group were twice as likely to lose their jobs as the general population was. Latinos were also more likely to suffer a decrease in earnings. In addition, almost half of Hispanics had trouble paying for the bare essentials, and over one-third cut back on basic medications. Finally, about twenty percent lost their health insurance (I’m sure the rates are much lower among Tea Baggers).

With stats like that, it would be understandable if we Hispanics curled up in a corner, sucking our thumbs and trying vainly to think happy thoughts. But we’re talking about people who routinely ditch old lives for a shot at a better future.

So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that Latinos have shown resiliency during this nightmarish time. The report points out that Hispanics were more likely than the general population to look for new jobs, to seek advanced training, and to work toward keeping their skills up to date.

Most interestingly, Hispanics were twice as likely as the general population to start their own businesses. Yes, even in a disastrous era, Latinos were among the first to take a chance on making things better.

I can’t say that happy endings are in store for all those Hispanics who got through this mess. But again, I hope that I never have to return to the topic of how terrible things once were.


Will They Take a Check?

Recently, I wrote about the inaccuracies and myths surrounding the supposed crime wave that illegal immigrants have created in America.

I’m sure many readers said, “OK, Hispanic Fanatic, you displayed sound reasoning… even though you have a creepy way of referring to yourself in the third person, with an alias no less, and you remain obsessed with hourglass-shaped blonde women. But logically, you were correct.”

The Fanatic appreciates your vote of confidence.

As such, I will now address that other boogeyman of the illegal-immigration debate: the economic burden to our country.

To continue reading this post, please click here.


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