Monday, October 8, 2012

Collections Scam


Many people don’t really know how corporations deal with their noncollectable consumer debt, and I believe if they did, many of those same people would not be very happy about it. I, personally, didn’t know until I went to Business College. There’s no reason to know if you wander through life believing that what you get in the mail is gospel truth. Those of us who have had a run of bad luck know what I’m talking about when I mention letters from collection agencies. Before I even start, I’m not proposing that anyone, in any way, cheat the system. But some of us, out of necessity, have had to use a great deal of credit to get the things that were necessary for an improved lifestyle. Mine was college, and it paid off. I got a really good job after college and had plenty of money to pay down my debt. And then it all fell apart when I lost that job and had to settle for something around half the money. I could barely keep a roof over me and my son’s head, and feed us. There wasn’t anything left to pay off the massive debt, so everything went into collections. This is where the corporate sham begins.
What do they do with their noncollectable consumer debt? Debt that has shown little or no activity for a year or two? They write it off for tax purposes and then sell it for pennies on the dollar to the highest bidder. Yes, your debt is considered noncollectable by the corporation; it is thrown away, so-to-speak.  Say a corporation had 5 million in profits the past quarter. As the tax law is written, they would pay 175,000 in taxes. But they do everything possible to reduce that amount of tax paid, one of them being the sale of your credit. This is the sneaky part.
Instead of carrying the debt as they should or take a total loss, they will sell it for pennies on the dollar and write it off. Say they have a half a million in noncollectable debt. They sell it for $50,000, and write off a loss of the half million, bringing their total profit down to 4.5 million and bringing their taxes down to $166,250. That’s a savings of over 8700 dollars. They took what was considered worthless and made $58,700 approximately. Pretty neat, huh?
What happens to the debt? It ends up in some collector’s office, or lawyer’s office, who have no real relationship with the corporation. They don’t work for them; they are not collecting the debt on the corporation’s behalf. The debt doesn’t exist to the corporation anymore. Instead, we get hounded by debt collectors, some of us end up in court, having to pay the entire amount, plus interest, which we don’t have or we would have paid the debt in the first place. So some of us end up garnished, and still don’t have the money to pay it, so it takes food off of the table. And, lengthens the time we need to get back on our feet. If we are really lucky, at least that’s what they’ll want you to believe, the collector’s will settle for half of the original debt. That’s why you get those offers in the mail. It’s just another example of how the people with money work the system. They are saving tax dollars while we can’t afford to feed our families and have to take one or two more jobs just to get by. That’s certainly not the American dream.
So, let’s work this out. These corporations, who probably pay people much less than they are worth to begin with, probably not enough for many of their employees to make ends meet. They do everything they can not to pay taxes - this, by the way is why some of those accounting firms got in big trouble in the recent past. Sometimes, their creative accounting is against the law. I think this should be, too. And, they pay their top VP’s and CEO’s millions of dollars. There is such a disparity in wages across this country that I won’t even get into that. But, the point is, they sell your debt to collection agencies, then write it off for tax purposes. Reducing their taxes, increasing their bottom line. 
These collection hounds are not working for the corporation that originally held your debt. As I’ve said many times already, the debt doesn’t exist to the original lender anymore, because they wrote it off. The collection agencies re only working for themselves, to fatten their wallets. And, they can also take you to court. Why is this legal in the first place? Why didn’t the corporation take you to court? Because it costs money. Lawyers are expensive. It would cost more to collect the debt than the original debt, which is why they write it off. Do you understand yet what is really irritating me here? The debt is written off! Why are other people allowed to collect it? Because we are basically defenseless.  
The only reason this continues to be in place is because of those dreaded special interest groups. Big corporations save a lot of money in taxes and other corporations make a lot of money off their debt. Some of these other corporations are indirectly owned by the first corporation. Some of us even work for corporations that make money off of us, sell us out, pay us bare minimum, and indirectly profit from us two or three times. Make them pay their fair share and let me get back on my feet and start paying my debt again as I intended to do in the first place. I don’t want a free ride. I just want to stop the corporations from getting so many free rides. 
So, this seems like a good time, economically, to make this case to our government. Will you help me? There needs to be more safeguards for people who experience devastating losses like mine. There needs to be more stringent laws for credit approval. Corporations should have to hold onto their debt or dismiss it as worthless. It shouldn’t be allowed to belong to any other entity, unless that corporation is bought by another. The government itself doesn’t have that luxury. They don’t write off debt. You owe the government, you owe it forever. It’s all about taxes, profit, bottom-line, greed, to these corporations.
Please don’t get me wrong. I want to pay off my loans and other debt. I just want to pay it to the corporation that gave it to me in the first place. I don’t want to pay it to someone else after the corporation made it worthless. This shouldn’t be allowed. Either the corporation directly hire a debt collector to collect their debt, continue to try and collect it their selves or write it off and forget about it. I truly believe what they do now is unfair.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Liberal Arts


It’s been a pretty uneventful week. I haven’t had an epiphany about what I wanted to write about. I haven’t been pissed off enough by somebody doing something completely idiotic to want to write about it. There is nothing pressing on my mind. Perhaps I have reached some sort of Zen. I know I have been much calmer this week than I have in a long time. But that doesn’t mean I ignore what’s going on in the world around me.

Politics in general always piss me off, but I don’t want to go there. At least in the traditional sense. Too many people are too misinformed about everything to actually have a productive conversation about democrats and republicans. I believe it has to go much deeper than that in the 21st century. There aren’t just two sides anymore. There is only one. Humanity. It makes me sick to see what is being printed and what comments are being posted in reply to those articles. I know it comes down to a lack of education, but even then, people learn only what they are taught.

I look back at my life and where I grew up and it’s not much of a stretch to see where racism comes from, and discrimination comes from, and how things escalate from just one person talking to another and that person believing what the other person is saying and taking it as truth without any kind of research on their own to find out if it is really the truth. Many people are just too lazy. They go to work, see the same people every day. These people have opinions they talk about with each other around the water cooler and quite honestly the stronger personality intimidates the weaker personality into believing what they are preaching. Even if the weaker personality knows better, the more they are around the stronger personality, the more they tend to follow their opinions.

It’s been happening for tens of thousands of years. It’s not going to end anytime soon. I really believe the only way things are going to change is by educating people about the truth. I believe it is possible, it’s just not probable with the way the press prints whatever they want to, truth or not, and the way the educators are lowering the bar, producing graduates who haven’t really learned how to think for themselves, only to parrot what someone has taught them.

Even within the same college, there are two extremes to the political spectrum. You study something in the arts and sciences, you deal with a lot of democrats. You study something in business and you deal with a lot of republicans. The thing I don’t understand is a college is supposed to be a liberal, free-thinking institution where they educate people in the ways of analytical and philosophical thought. After all, it’s called a liberal arts college for a reason. It’s not called conservative design. I don’t think the two should be allowed to coexist on the same campus. A business college is a glorified trade school. I know. I graduated from one. The only claim I have to knowing what I’ve been talking about is I also have an degree in social sciences and a minor in psychology, so, at least I’ve taken the courses necessary for free thinking individuals to actually think freely.

I basically have two bachelor’s degrees, just not on paper. I hold an associate of arts in social science and a bachelors of science in accounting with a minor in psychology. I’ve take the prerequisites in the college of arts and sciences and the college of business. My opinion is they should be the same. If you give a student in the college of business a liberal arts education, s/he won’t grow into some money-hungry, selfish, nonsensical individual running some multi-conglomerate corporation trying to figure out how their company can screw the masses out of their money while personally pocketing as much as they possibly can. Instead, we might find a person who actually cares about the masses and wants to invest in the people who work for them and to give everyone the chance for a piece of the American dream. I know, I know, I’m not going there.

My point is there are thousands of student in the United States getting a streamlined education in various college of businesses around the county and they aren’t learning philosophy, psychology, sociology, theology, classical literature, arts, theatre, dance, music, all of the things which are necessary to sculpt a free-thinking individual who could actually do some good for this country and the people in it. Instead, we get narrow-minded accountants, marketers, and administrators that know only one thing and live by only one thing, how to be the most profitable without concern or care for the people who work for you, the people who live in the community in which you operate, or the people who simply purchase your products or services.

I don’t want to be a rich man. I don’t think anybody needs to have more money than they could possibly spend in a lifetime. I know, you need a summer home in the Hamptons, a winter home in Florida, a nice little flat in London and perhaps a chalet in France. And the expense of keeping all of those houses, come on, right? You need more money.  Um, no you don’t. You need to see the true meaning of life through humane eyes and realize no matter how much money you make, you can’t take it with you, so you might as well leave something significant behind. If you’ve got lots of money, help everybody you can. If you don’t have much money, help a few. Every person you affect in your lifetime in a positive way will remember you long after you are dead. Nobody gives a crap how much money you had. We want to know what you did for the survival of our species. Did you give, or did you just take, take, take? 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sobriety

Someone recently asked me, “How did you gain/obtain your sobriety?”

Before I begin, I want to make it clear your sobriety is something you most certainly gain. It’s not something you obtain. It’s much more of something you would achieve, not receive. It’s hard work, someone doesn’t just give it to you. You don’t just go down to Wally World and buy something that’s going to make you sober. You work at it. You gain it.

Now for the question. The simplest, easiest, most direct way to gain sobriety is to just stop drinking. I know that’s lame, but it’s true. The tricky part is to not ever drink again. That’s why you have to have a really good reason to stop your destructive behavior. And believe me, you probably don’t have to look very hard. In my life, there was my son; he was all the reason I needed. That isn’t to say I didn’t drink for a while when I finally got custody of him, and being the non-custodial parent for those couple of years prior certainly led to my drinking more and more, but he is the main reason why I stopped. I wanted to be the best dad I could and give him the best chances in life.

What kept me sober outside of that was knowledge. The more I found out about the disease and the more I realized how my family and my father affected my drinking, the more I understood it wasn’t something I needed to do. Nor, by that time, wanted to do. I grew up believing that fun and beer went hand in hand. I didn’t do anything enjoyable without having a beer or something else along for the ride. What surprised me the most after I stopped was that I had had so much more fun sober than I’ve ever had drunk and I enjoy the memories so much more because I actually remember them.

People drink for a number of reasons. But, people drink too much for only a few reasons. My father was an alcoholic, so I was raised in an alcoholic family, I didn’t know any different. I drank because my life really sucked, and the more it sucked, the more I drank. I was self-medicating myself because I also discovered I had anxiety and depressive symptoms. People who drink too much either drink to escape or drink to have fun. That is to say someone may have started drinking while having fun, and for a certain amount of time, years probably, they continued to have fun while doing it. Then they woke up one day and realized drinking to have fun turned out to be not so much fun after all. Not to mention, it sure took a lot of alcohol to even find some semblance of fun. Drinking becomes a burden if you drink in excess every time you’re out having fun.  If you’re in school, your education suffers, if you’re employed, your job suffers, if you’re married or in a relationship, your relationship suffers. People finally realize their life is going to shit when they look around them and see that they’ve destroyed every good thing they’ve ever had. I’m not saying everyone reaches that point. Some people never realize they have a problem. They are called high-functioning alcoholics. But I guarantee you they really aren’t that functional, they really aren’t happy, and the people in their lives really aren’t happy with them.

The other reason is to escape. Same principal, same result. I drink, it feels good, I sober up, it feels bad, I drink more, it feels better, I sober up, and it feels worse. It gets to the point very quickly that I have to drink just to feel okay. That’s another reason why it’s so hard to stop. The day you stop, you start to feel worse, the next day, worse than the day before. I’ve found, by trial and error that if I was able to stop for three days, I would start to notice an improvement in how I felt on day four. I would start feeling better. After that, it was just one day at a time.

I’m actually in the editing process of a self-help book I am publishing entitled, “It’s Never Too Late: Be True to Yourself” that really has a very good explanation of my personal method in it and I really believe it will help those of you who happen to struggle with addiction, and even those of you who know someone who does. At the very least, you might discover something you didn’t know and it will lead you to ask more questions and search for more answers.

The same old cliché applies, though. The only person who is going to get you to stop drinking is you, and it’s a very difficult struggle that lasts years. And then, after you start on the road to recovery, you’ll find it’s something that never leaves you, either. But eventually, doing without seems so much more productive than having it in your life. You just have to truly want to stop. Then you’ll see why life is so much better without it. My life completely changed when I stopped. I rediscovered myself and who I truly was. Now I’m doing the things I love to do and I have no reason to ever go back down that road.

There are those people who are luckier than me who can see what a detriment alcohol and drug abuse is without going through their own personal hell. They are called social drinkers. Others were raised in hell and never knew any better, much like me and many of my siblings. Only difference is, they continue to deny their problem because they have refused to accept the fact they are all adult children of an alcoholic. I would venture to bet most people who abuse drugs and alcohol are from families who fall into that category. If your father, mother, grandfather, or grandmother used to drink a lot, you really should take a good hard look at your own consumption and ask yourself if you’d be better off without it. If you already know the answer to that question or you’ve hit bottom for the last time, then it’s time to make that commitment. In my opinion, there was never any need for alcohol in the first place. It’s an evil drug. Everyone is better off without it.

Yes, really, you are.  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rudeness

When did it become fashionable to be rude? I grew up in a small town in Wyoming and although there were many things not so right with the morals of the people I grew up around, at least they were friendly and didn’t act like they had a huge corncob stuck up their respective asses. When I walked down the street people looked at me and smiled and said hi and acted like they were genuinely concerned about me and glad that they had saw me that day. My father used to tip his hat at every woman he passed, whether he had a hat on or not. I never figured out if that was him just being nice, or his womanizing disability. Nowadays, you’re lucky if you get someone to look up from the screen that they are texting on. Yet, that has only happened recently.

Three or four years ago when everyone wasn’t texting, they might have been talking on their phone, but they were still usually looking down at their feet. And, even before cell phones became so popular, people still looked at their feet. I used to wonder what the fascination was with everyone’s feet. I’ve seen my feet hundreds of times, I can walk on a sidewalk without looking down, why do people stare at their feet when you encounter them? Not to mention that their used to be these booths on corners and in front of stores all over the country that contained phones in them. They were in booths for two reasons, one, for privacy, and two, so I didn’t have to stand there and listen to your conversation because it’s rude. But, I digress.

I went back to college in my late thirties to finish my bachelor’s degree and had firsthand experience with how the younger generations treated each other and the people around them. For the most part, they were still respectful to most authority figures. They would call their professors by their appropriate titles when they addressed them. Not so much when they were talking about them with each other. And, well, they had some manors, but it could have just as well been a big front. I certainly didn’t get deep into the belly of the college beast. I wasn’t allowed because of my age. Most everyone was nice to me and I made quite a few friends. Friends I’m sad to say, lost touch all too quickly after graduation. Which makes me think that they behaved differently around me then they did amongst themselves. But, back to my point. Even though they acted nice for the most part, there wasn’t a day that went by where I wasn’t appalled at what someone did or said. And many times, these were the people that I just referred to as my friends. These were my cohorts, too.

I wonder where manors went? When did they become exstinct? Because, really, when I pass you on the street and you completely ignore me as if I’m not even there, I want to tell you to go fuck yourself. I want to ask you, “who made you so special that you think you can just completely ignore another member of the human race?” Of course, I know all about the fundamental attribution error. That person could have any number of things going on with their lives. Perhaps, their mother just died or their spouse just asked them for a divorce. I know that some people have bona fide excuses for being rude, but you can’t tell me that 95% of all people I meet on the street have the same kind of excuse for their sad actions.

I suppose the problem has hundreds of different contributing factors, and I could spend a lifetime trying to research and dissect the problem. I just want people to understand that the planet is getting smaller and smaller every day. As long as the birth rate is higher than the death rate, there is going to be less and less space for all of us to live. We are all going to be forced to see more and more of each other on a daily basis. So, I ask you to please make eye contact with the people you pass on the street and smile at them. Pay it forward. It’s the only way that this planet is going to be a place worth living on. We all simply have to be nice to each other. We all have to take care of each other. We all have to step back and decide which is more important; selfishness, or the environment in which our kids are going to grow up in? Our kids, their kids, their kids’ kids, and so on. No one, not even the people that actually own land, have the right to treat it any which way they want to. It’s the same with public spaces. No one has the right to be an ass when they are present in a public space. I’m trying to raise my kids right. I don’t know about your problems, but I bet they aren’t much different than mine. So, get over yourself.

Maybe it’s just me. I don’t know. To be honest, I don’t like too many people, as you may have guessed, but I do care about other people. I think that everyone has certain inalienable rights and since everyone’s space is starting to overlap everyone else’s, you have to be a bit more careful what you do, because you just might be treading on someone else’s rights. It’s not tolerance we should be striving for, it’s cohesiveness. Humanity must eventually come together and act as one. I believe that we can all have one set of morals. That we can all treat each other as we would like to be treated. With respect, with courtesy, with kindness, with care. I believe that there are certain human attributes ingrained in all of us that would allow this to happen. We all know what to do, we just choose not to because we are all so busy ignoring each other, that we don’t see outside of our living rooms anymore, or in this case, the tops of our shoes. Ignorance is not bliss, it is downright criminal. Be nice, people. I guarantee you’ll feel better, because you will be making a difference.