Monday, February 18, 2013

Permanent Records, Credit Scores, and Chocolate Conspiracy Theories

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The Man knows how to prey on your insecurities. It's how he and his friends entice you to buy stuff you don't need, yet subliminally desire. And if you don't have the money, the Man will set you up with his Bankster friends and they'll loan you the money (at redonkulously high interest) so you'll finally have enough money to fulfill your wildest dreams. They all profit from your internal struggles.

Homes. Cars. College degrees. Second homes. Third cars. Boats. Pristine lawns.

All crucial aspects towards fulfilling the American Dream. If you want it but cannot afford it by falling short for some reason (that reason being the inability to live within your means), then you can put up the appearance of being successful by borrowing the money.

Credit card. College loan. Car loans. Gas card. Mortgage. Grad/law/med school loan. Second gas card. Second credit card. Second mortgage. Third credit card. Borrow from rich aunt. Fourth credit card. Third mortgage. Fifth credit card.

Want. Buy. Consume. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

That's the Neo-American Dream. Not to be debt free and successful, but to have good enough of a credit score to acquire loans so you can put up the image of success. Just like Fernando, the Billy Crystal character from Saturday Night Live explaining 80s gross consumption, "It's better to look good, than to feel good."

When I was a kid, the powers that be tried to keep you in line by threatening you with a "permanent record." It's like a rap sheet for kids who stay out of jail, but sort of like that list Santa Claus makes every year... he's checking it twice to find out who's been naughty or nice. Of course, the permanent record scam was total horseshit and one of the many mechanisms that adults used to keep kids in line so they didn't go ape-shit crazy and take over the asylum.

When you get into your early 20s, the new means of control is your credit score. That's how Citibank scared the bejesus out of me. If I didn't pay my Visa card or my college loan, then it would affect my credit score and they will prevent me from getting future credit cards and loans for cars, mortgages, or potential loan for law school. Heck, some landlords might not even want to rent an apartment to you because you have a crappy credit score, which translates into risky behavior.

Your credit score was like a scarlet letter. Shitty scores were a huge red flag toward banking intuitions and potential landlords. You paid your bills and kept your nose clean to ensure you stayed in good favor with the Banksters.

You should want to pay your bills on time because it's an honorable thing to do, but moreso not to get  labeled as a deadbeat or brokedick. Centuries ago, they put you in prison if you ran up debts. The British crown emptied their jails filled with debtors and shipped them off to Australia. In modern-day America, you declare bankruptcy and get a new batch of credit cards.

In the poker world, I've seen some of the nicest guys (and gals) in the world get shunned by their peers because they were deadbeats who never paid their debts. It's a catch-22 in the gambling world... they can't earn money (and pay back debts) unless they have a bankroll, so they have to find someone to loan them money at high juice in order to get back in the game. It's not just with poker pros and sports bettors. It happens everyday down on Wall Street or out in the suburbs with real estate gurus (gurus, gamblers... same thing) begging banks to allow them to borrow enough money to keep their properties afloat like a dope-sick junkie trying to cut a deal with his ruthless dealer.

Every group of friends has that one guy (or girl) who is perpetually broke, but borrows constantly from friends with no intentions of paying them back. If your friends could hand out credit scores to each other, then you'd see that that person was a huge risk and you'd probably not lend out cash anymore, even if you doled it out in $20 increments.

While on path to fulfilling the American Dream, you have to get a car loan, school loan, or mortgage somewhere along the way. If you don't pay your bills, it could affect your future. You cannot start a family without a good credit score. In the days of heavily-regulated banking, you needed to walk the straight and narrow and show you're not a credit risk in order to be eligible for a housing loan. Otherwise, you needed some rich relative to co-sign the loan for you.

When Glass-Steagall Act got thrown out and other forms of banking regulation disappeared over night, banks quickly lowered the bar and offered sub-prime mortgages so anyone could get a loan. NO MONEY DOWN! Who needs one house? Let's get fourteen! NO MONEY DOWN!

The Banksters didn't even finish shoveling dirt on Glass-Steagall's coffin before shit got out of control. It didn't matter if you paid your bills or not because the sub-prime lenders had lowered the bar so low that they were turning away anyone with a shred of financial responsibility. They wanted the biggest fuck-ups out there just to fulfill a quota. After all, any shitty loan wouldn't be on that bank's books because they were waiting to ship them out to bigger banks who were going to bundle up all those shitty loans and use it as lunch meat with other fancy investments. That's how immigrants who couldn't speak English walked off the street into banks to secure a home loan. They weren't even in America a few months and they were leveraged to the hilt, but at least they were on the right path to home ownership and fulfilling the American Dream.

If you cannot afford to live the Dream, then you could borrow from unscrupulous Banksters to make it happen. The Man knows how to prey on your insecurities as he lowers that golden carrot in front of the donkey cart.

Enter Valentine's Day. Talk about a polarizing holiday that whips people into a frenzy. You would think that Americans could recognize the absurdity of over-consumption during Christmas, but we've all had fucked up childhoods at this point so it's pointless to try and change tradition. After all, it's a family holiday and nothing is as crazy as your particular family.

But Valentine's Day is not a family-oriented holiday like Turkey Day and Christmas. If you're single, it's a reminder from society that you have failed to find a "soul mate" or at least a fuck buddy. If you're with someone, it's a reminder from society that you're a shitty significant other so you better buy some shit (made in China) so they won't figure out that you really suck and they'll leave you for someone else.

It's truly the most absurd holiday when you think about it. Screw the couples. Make them pay. And while we're at it, let's totally mind fuck everyone else too.

Valentine's Day used to be called St. Valentine's Day. It was originally a Catholic holiday to celebrate a rogue priest willing to marry star crossed lovers. Makes you wonder if the Pope or Shakespeare wrote the original story of St. Valentine. Like mostly every other religious holiday, it got hijacked by the Don Drapers running Madison Avenue, who bent, stretched, and twisted the holiday through their massive media machines, and when the dust settled the sheeple were bombarded with advertisements reminding them that true love only comes in the form of blood diamonds from De Beers, or milk chocolate from Hershey's, or some other high ticket travel item that includes airfare and resort fees.

Here's the crux of the conspiracy... well, it's not really a conspiracy because everyone knows the truth... Valentine's Day is a fabricated holiday designed by Madison Avenue to increase chocolate sales for corporations (Hershey and Mars) in between Halloween and Easter, so they hijacked Valentine's Day.

These days, V-Day carries so much societal pressure that it drives people crazy. I've seen it first hand the last few years with the rise of social media. Man, you really see the anger bubbling to the surface starting about a week before and leading up to full-blown volcanic explosions on February 14th. Most of the time, guys think V-Day is moronically stupid because it's just another way for the Man to sink his hooks in us and take away our money by trying to trick us into thinking we're bad people for not buying into the hype. Women either love it, or hate it. Most of those lines are drawn between those with someone special, and those without. Everyone deep down likes attention. It's a drug. It's hard not to like a holiday that strokes the ego and provides you with free stuff (gifts). Most guys see V-Day as a monetary issue and a holiday forced upon us. Some women see it as a personal attack by the Man who preys on their self-image insecurities and there's not a worse day of the year for single women to feel horrible about their lack of a mate. Most people can rise about it, but it's not easy when you're bombarded with non-stop images and ads. Yeah, it's an evil holiday that corporations make people feel like shit just to turn a profit.

2013 Valentine's Day came and went without any problems. Nicky and I made Valentine's Day really mean something special for us, so we decided it would be the day we celebrated our anniversary. It was almost six years ago when I came up with the idea. Unless you're talking about a wedding anniversary and a set date of nuptials, non-married couples have to deal with an arbitrary date anyway. Some relationships have a clearly defined starting point. Others? A little more complicated. We weren't one of those couples who constantly broke up with each other and reveal an estimation of how long they've been together with a caveat "on and off." We started officially dating sometime around Valentine's Day in 2006, so it made sense that we picked that as the date to celebrate. It was a perfect coup because I was able to kill two birds with one stone. Valentine's Day wasn't a fake holiday the Man forced us to celebrate. It was a celebration day because we decided so. Feels awesome to hijack a holiday like that for your own purposes.

And and happy seventh anniversary to Nicky. Seven years? Cannot believe its been seven years. That's a story for another time.

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