Tag: spending

A New York View of the National Debt

New York City offers a unique snapshot of what it means to be American. After all, Ellis Island recalls the historical arrival of many of our ancestors to “the land where dreams come true.”

Snapshots give a glimpse at something. And many people choose to only share the happy and positive peeks at their world. Such a one-sided view could be the root of much of the selective ignorance that abounds in our country.
My guides in New York reminded me that New Yorkers repeat everything three times. Basically because no one is listening to the announcements. Or each other. That simple fact could preach its own sermon.

One of my guides was quick to point out all the examples of mediocrity. In the four years he’s lived there, he’s found that most of New York is a study in mediocrity. There’s no, “If you’re going to do it, do it to the best of your ability.” It’s more like, “Just get it done already.”

Sadly, I think that’s becoming the American way.

The National Debt Clock

I might have walked by the clock without paying attention. From a distance, it’s just a stream of digital numbers that change in a random pattern.

Our guide pulled on my arm and pointed it out. I had to snap a few pictures because…the number kept going up.

This is a full-frame of the first snapshot I took.

Here is a brief history copied from Wikipedia:

The National Debt Clock is a billboard-sized running total display which constantly updates to show the current United States gross national debtand each American family’s share of the debt. It is currently installed on the western side of One Bryant Park, west of Sixth Avenue between 42ndand 43rd Streets in Manhattan, New York City. It was the first debt clock installed anywhere.
The idea for the clock came from New York real estate developer Seymour Durst, who wanted to highlight the rising national debt. In 1989, he sponsored the installation of the first clock, which was originally placed on Sixth Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets, one block away from Times Square. In 2004, the original clock was dismantled and replaced by a newer clock near 44th Street and Sixth Avenue. In 2008, as the U.S. national debt exceeded $10 trillion for the first time, it was reported that the value of the debt may have exceeded the number of digits in the clock. The lit dollar-sign in the clock’s leftmost digit position was later changed to the “1” digit to represent the ten-trillionth place. In 2017, the clock was moved again to One Bryant Park, near its original location.

A little bit closer view of the second number: taken maybe two minutes later.

***Inquiring minds want to know HOW MUCH the deficit increased in that short lapse. $4,726,692,000 (nearly 4.75 BILLION in a couple minutes). I wish I was kidding.

Watch it running LIVE here.

Living Outside a Budget

Our government is a poor example of living within its means. Seriously, as much as they tax everyone and everything, there shouldn’t be a problem meeting their expenses.

It’s not like they hand out free healthcare on the corner. Or offer up free college educations to anyone and everyone.

And if you’ve spent any time inside a public school (believe me, I have), you know that the money isn’t being spent there to improve the education of one of our best resources: children.

But, what should we expect? Most people don’t even know what a budget is. Or if they do, they don’t have one. A Gallup poll says only 32 percent of Americans maintain a household budget. That’s only one-third of the millions in our great (if highly indebted) nation.

For more information on this, read the article I reference on debt.com.

There weren’t any statistics on how many of the Americans who had a household budget actually lived by it every month. Based on the free-spending mentality in Washington (DC), I’m thinking it might be another low percentage.

If we want to shake our head at the government’s poor planning, we need to take a closer look at ourselves.

As goes the citizen, so goes its government.

Externals or Internals

The problem isn’t just about budgeting. It’s about priorities.

We’ve become a society fixated on the next new gadget and making everything ultra convenient.

Ten years ago, no one would know what I meant if I said, “Looking for a dog sitter? There’s an app for that.”

Because phones were still NOT all that smart, and not everyone had access to the Internet in their pocket (or purse).

But these days, we don’t even wonder or ponder questions. We just Google it. And Heaven forbid if Google is wrong. It might take a million signatures to verify that inaccuracy.

This mindset makes all the external niceties in life the focus. Where we’re going to eat dinner takes precedence over if we can afford to eat dinner. Or better yet, if we SHOULD go out to eat because it might not be the best for our health.

Internal things like deep relationships are exchanged for fleeting interactions on the latest social media application. Oh, I sent my dad a SnapChat photo on Father’s Day. He knows I love him.

Is that really how we express our internal emotions? Or have we become so shallow that we don’t appreciate the years, and work, and emotion, and sacrifice our parents contributed to our lives.

Really, a phone call only takes a second. And it even uses fewer keystrokes than sending a text message.

Putting Numbers In Perspective

Let’s face it, our mind cannot even comprehend a billion dollars. Most of us believe a million would solve all our financial woes.

Our biggest personal debt is probably a home mortgage. I choke at my nearly $200K one, but my oldest son owes closer to $450K. In that case, a million dollars wouldn’t even pay off that bank once Uncle Sam took his cut.

But what about tens of trillions of dollars? Or HUNDREDS of trillions of dollars? That’s how much money the United States of America owes to its debtors.

And we can’t fathom how much that is or where that money will come from or how it will ever be paid off.

Here’s a little comparison in something we might understand better: Time
113,052,009,072,912 seconds would be 1,308,472,327 days. Which translates into 3,584,855.69 years. Still can’t fathom it?

Using the worldwide average life expectancy of 70.5 years, this 3.5 million is equivalent to the lifetimes of 50,849 people.

Makes me wonder if it will take that many lifetimes before our country can pay off this debt.

And still, the national debt counter continues to rise.

Trifecta of Relaxation

What’s a vacation at a resort with at spa without a few spa treatments? Let me recommend a particular trifecta in the recipe for relaxation.

Worldmark at Indio has a plethora of activities for people of all ages. For women who think being pampered is a must on vacation, there is The Spa at Indio.

Usually, I’m tight with my money. After all, if I was trying to feed myself on those four “royalties only” writing contracts and that substitute teaching salary, I’d be lucky to get one meal each day.

But this is vacation.

It still took me an entire day to convince myself to splurge on some treatments.

In the end, I built a package of three treatments so I could get a ten percent discount on all of them. See? Frugal to the end.

Balancing Massage

I began my two-and-one-half hours of pampering with a therapeutic Swedish massage called “The Balance” in the spa’s brochure.

My esthetician, Lydia, lead me into a cozy room and told me to “undress to my level of comfort” but “less clothing” is best to receive maximum results from the treatments.

Before you could sing a verse of “Happy Birthday,” me and my birthday suit were lying face down on the massage table, covered in a fresh-smelling sheet and fluffy towel.

Lydia set the microwave to work. Soon weighted, heated packs were covering my shoulders, lower back and butt. She moved to my feet and began the manipulation.

Massage therapists and chiropractors are the only people authorized to manipulate me.

“Relax,” she says.

And I tried. I really did. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Lovely Lydia decided my neck and shoulders were made of steel cables. No matter how often she applied heat and pressure, nothing was converting them to molten lava.

It felt wonderful-even when my body screamed for mercy-and I was more relaxed in the end.

Elixir Hair Treatment

The second step in my trifecta of wonder was the one I was anticipating the most. If you’ve never had a thorough scalp massage, you don’t know what you’re missing.

She worked some sort of oil into my scalp and the back of my neck. The softening treatment she combed through my hair smelled of aloe and sage.

I was nearly asleep by the time this thirty minutes had passed.

Was it really that long? It seemed like it ended much too soon.

Renewing Facial

It’s been several years since I’ve had a facial. I used to get at least one per year, but then my regular income stopped, and the facials went the way of my monthly pedicures.

This was one of the best facials I’ve ever had.

The cleanser and exfoliation scrub brought me to a mango tree and suspended me in gleeful rapture. Citrus scents are among my favorite for body washes-and now facial cleansers.

The steam that accompanies a facial can become suffocating or borderline scalding. Not so at this spa. The constant infusion of warm air did nothing more than open my pores and carry the delicious fruit scent into my olfactory memory banks.

I was surprised when the extractions began. I didn’t think my 50 minute facial included them. Sometimes this process yanks me from floating on clouds and sends me to the stretching rack. As in torture (opposite of relaxation in every way).

Not this time. Yes, there were twinges on my forehead, brow line and nose when Lydia did her digging. They didn’t lift me from my fog of relaxation, though.

The only drawback to this service was that the mask that I had to wear for the last twenty minutes of the treatment wasn’t citrus flavored. In fact, it didn’t smell pleasant in the least. Heavy perfume smothered me.

If it wasn’t for the pleasant hand and foot massage occurring at the same time, this would have left a sour taste in my mouth. The stench was carefully massaged away, though, and the soft, suppleness of my glowing skin made me ignore the insult to my sensory fiesta.

In the end, I left a gratuity in the same amount as my discount.

Why not? The expense lost when weighed on the scales of price verses value. Money or positive attitude and physical benefits?

Somehow, I managed to wear the hair treatment until the following morning. Even with sunscreen and a hat, my tender nose managed to get reddened during my two-hour stint beside the pool.

Ah well. With such a trifecta of perfection, there had to be some negative side effects, right?

What is your ideal way to relax? Have you been to a spa? What’s your favorite treatment?