Tag: hope

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.

 


The Flip Side

I want to thank Chris, Rose, and Ankhesen Mie for their recent comments, as well as everyone who responded to my most recent article for the Huffington Post. The 160 or so comments I got on HuffPo are the most I’ve received for one article. And only a few people there were nuts and/or unruly.

That post, of course, was about the shooting death of a teenager, which clearly is a depressing topic. So these days, I’m looking for a sliver of optimism out there. I may have found it.

Now, I’ve written before that I’m a fan of PostSecret. This is despite the fact that too many of the secrets are actually just sappy affirmations. And I also think it’s odd that the creator of the site includes at least one image of a female breast in every week’s batch (that’s not a criticism; just an observation).

In any case, PostSecret may have achieved a goal that all we bloggers have, which is to save a life. This accomplishment has, for some reason, eluded me on this site.

But PostSecret may have done it. A few weeks ago, the site ran the following:

Yes, for some inexplicable reason, the illegal immigrant who made this card feels that Americans would be happier if he just dropped dead. I don’t know where he got that idea… unless it was the nonstop barrage of right-wing media outlets blaming the undocumented for everything from the economic collapse to imaginary crime waves, with rage-filled commentary that implied individuals without papers are less than human.

But really, I’m sure that had nothing to do with it.

So did the illegal immigrant jump to his or her death? No one knows.

With hope, however, this person saw the response that the secret provoked, and maybe this changed his or her mind.

“Time” magazine reports that, because of the postcard, “within 24 hours, nearly 20,000 people had signed up for a Facebook group titled ‘Please don’t jump,’ which was … linking in thousands of supportive comments.”

PostSecret adds that in the week since the secret was posted, “over 50,000 of you joined an online community offering encouragement and help” and that earlier this week, “hundreds are meeting on the Golden Gate Bridge to take a stand against suicide.”

I have to admit that this is quite a showing of support for one scared illegal immigrant. The outcome serves as a much-needed antidote to the hateful comments about the shooting death of Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca (again, see my previous post).

Does this mean that there is still a kernel of compassion left in the increasingly jingoistic American soul? Is it possible that many people see the undocumented as fully human rather than as pests to be exterminated?

Well, that would be nice, wouldn’t it?


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