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Rebirth of a People

While much of the Northern Hemisphere is blanketed in snow and the Earth rests beneath, we enter the time of year for rebirth and renewal. Many of Earth's creatures take this time to slow down. Some hibernate. Others stocked with food during the late summer and fall months and retire there to avoid the freezing temperatures outside. With fewer hours of natural light, the time we humans can spend in outdoor activities becomes more limited. As the year comes to a close, we tend to review our accomplishments and start to re-establish our goals for the coming year. If we follow the cycle, we, too, should be slowing down, taking time out, gathering our energies, renewing our internal resources, rethinking, restructuring and rebirthing.

SCPE has been dormant for quite some time, and we decided to come out of our hibernation with renewed purpose.

We have seen some amazing events in the last few months, many of which are not pleasant. It is time for us to realize that a deep cleansing is needed in order to repair much of the damage. We have a lot of work to do, and now is the time to regroup. We at SCPE would like to offer some thoughts in an effort to gain some perspective and understanding.

The United States of America was put together by the sweat of the brows of many, by the blood of men and women who believed in something better than they had experienced in their own lives, and by the strength and conviction of tenacious people who were determined to succeed for the sake of their own freedom and that of future generations. It became one of the greatest countries in recorded history while it was still quite young. It took guts and sacrifice. It took people with a shared vision in a time with no internet, no TV and no radio. Somehow a commonality of purpose spread from person to person and village to farm to become one of the building blocks of a powerful, free nation.

It is time we as a collective group took some responsibility for our part in creating the break down of our own system.

Our responsibility as consumers is taken far too lightly. When prices are out of control, we have the ability to take control. It is quite simple. Do not buy what you do not need. Refuse to pay top dollar. Shop bargains. Be informed.

Do not shop in stores where the markup is higher than other stores just because there is some kind of artificial prestige built into walking in the doors of the “exclusive” shops. Look for clearance signs. Plan ahead, and buy at the end the season. Stock up when prices are low. If a blouse costs $130 at one store; and the same blouse in the same color, made by the same company is $19.99 at another store, what kind of thought pattern would EVER make someone think it is smart to pay $130 for the blouse? There are seven grocery stores withing a five block radius of my home. One of them has prices that are consistently between ten cents and a dollar higher on every product that most people consider to be normal items, purchased often. I do not understand why that store can remain open. There is no reason to shop there. If you search the brand names among these stores, they're the same. How is one can of peas any different from another can of peas packaged by the same company when the only difference is that one has a marked price that is higher? What makes it better? The answer is: NOTHING. No one should ever go in that grocery store to shop. If everyone were a responsible consumer, they'd either put their prices down to compete or be forced to close their doors.

If the price of gas is increasing nearly every day for no good reason, then don't buy a gas-guzzling waste of space. If no one buys a product, the product will disappear. Companies do not continue to produce items that do not sell. Our message to the automotive industry over the past 20 years or so should have been: Build me something that lasts and that is fuel efficient. Instead, there are more high-profile vehicles on the road that suck up as much gas as a 47 foot RV than ever before. Large pickup trucks are driven daily by individuals who haul nothing more than a few bags of groceries once every couple of weeks. SUV's are so prevalent, that if you drive a sedan or sports car, you can no longer see anything around you including traffic signs and signals. When attempting to make a turn, one has to wait until the high-profile vehicles are out of the way, since one can't see past, over or through them; and, even though the driver of the high-profile vehicle can clearly see in both directions, he/she seems to be oblivious of the fact that they are obliterating the view of the smaller vehicles beside them. Wait until the end of a car year to purchase a car. Prices do go down on the current year's inventory when the next year's stock comes in. It is not necessary to be the first on the block with the newest toy. Hey, if you happen to own a 47 foot RV and you lose your home because of some poor choices, at least you have a place to live that includes a kitchen, a bathroom and a full sized bed. These are not options available on an SUV.

If you know you can't afford something, don't buy it. It doesn't take Einstein to figure out that paying interest only on a huge amount of money – a mortgage, for instance – will never pay off the balance borrowed. Somewhere along the way, the loan payment is going to have to go up in order to begin to pay the principle. If the mortgage lender had to be “creative” to get the home buyer to qualify, what's going to change that much over the next few years (five of them in many cases) that will increase the buyer's income substantially enough to absorb the increase? They just bought a new house and want new furniture. The house was not brand new and the water heater needed to be replaced, along with the refrigerator. Then the home owner decided that the carpet that was fine when they looked at the house is no longer the right color after the new furniture (that is a different color than the old furniture, which did match) was delivered, so they bought new carpet. Guess what? These major purchases were all put on credit cards; so, over the course of the five years when that home owner should have been planning on how to make that increased house payment, they've pretty much dug themselves into a financial pit. It is not difficult to understand that if your monthly payment is killing you right now, when it goes up, you will be in trouble. Where was the surprise?

If something doesn't make sense, get the facts and take the side of reason. Don't get your neighbor's opinion. Don't ask the guys at work what they think. Don't just listen to Uncle Ed's thoughts based on WWII economics. You're on the internet right now. Look it up – at a reputable source! You are seeking facts. Discretion is not just the better part of valor. It is also how some of the best decisions are made. Read. Evaluate. Think. If two plus one in someone's opinion is five, then their opinion is not worth much. Seek out the truth! If someone tries to convince you that red is blue, stop listening to them. Please remember that there are people on the radio and on television who spew garbage in order to get ratings and receive large paychecks. If what they say is not based on facts, find the facts. If they continue to spew garbage, change the station, but only after you find out who their sponsors are. Then, do not buy anything from those sponsors. Get on the sponsor's websites and tell them that you will not purchase their products or services any longer because of their lack of integrity in sponsoring programs that you do not hold in high repute. Be specific and business-like. If a newspaper or magazine writes tripe, stop buying it. Again, we need to be responsible consumers.

Stay informed and vote. We cannot take the chances we have in the past. We have to pay attention to what is going on. If what we see on the surface is dirty, imagine what goes on that is invisible to us! I'm not a political scientist, but normal reason says that the longer our representatives are in public office, the more time they've had to build up relationships with those who are not maybe so interested in the public good. I don't want to say that all politicians are dirty; but everyone has a price, be it in dollars or other types of favors. Everyone has an agenda – good, bad or indifferent. The beauty of a democracy is that we have the choice to replace our representatives every so often. Unfortunately, we have taken the lazy way out for a long, long time. If we are voting at all, we don't look at the issues or the track records. We don't watch out for our own good. Some of us go vote for the guy whose name we recognize, paying no attention to the fact that the reason why the name is familiar is because he was indicted on seven counts of theft of public funds a week before the election. We don't use our heads when one candidate attempts to slander another. Stating that someone associates with a known terrorist is pretty low-down, especially when the “known terrorist” might have been a Viet Nam war protester back in the 60's. Terrorist or protester 38 years ago? Fact or fallacy? Good campaigning or flinging pooh? Dealing with the issues and informing the voting public on where one stands or grasping at straws because the candidate can't address the issues because there is no plan? This rant could go on and on – based on facts. What we need is a cleansing! We, as a nation, stood up in this last election in many ways. This needs to continue. We cannot let down our guard! We did that, and take a look where we are.

At this time of rebirth and renewal, we, the people, need to look at ourselves. We need to be responsible. We need be discerning. We need to quit blaming someone else for the shape of things. We need to realize that we brought this upon ourselves. We need to re-prioritize. We need to take back control. We need to take action every time we can. We need to stay informed. We are the watchdogs. We cannot be complacent. We need to educate ourselves on what we can do to make a difference and get ourselves back on track. We are the country! It is not the land. It is not the governing bodies. It is not the facade some put on to appear to have more wealth than they do. It is not the vehicle, or the house, or the furniture, or the electronics, or the high-end restaurants. We need to get it together and do what's right.

The United States of America is us, not The U.S., US!

Take charge!

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