Saturday, May 03, 2014

One FL Teabagger Stops Popular and Desperately Needed Financial Literacy in Our Schools

#118 of My Stupid State

One reason so many Americans are in trouble financially is the fact that Americans lack the most fundamental financial skills. It's never taught to us. The results speak to this ignorance. American students face mountains of debt and most older folks aren't anywhere close to being able to retire. There are few places in America worse off than Florida. Florida ranks number one in credit card delinquencies and has the most cities in trouble with credit card debt: Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and Jacksonville. We lead the nation in foreclosures and have higher-than-average amounts of auto and student loans.

One reason for our sorry shape is there are those who want to keep us ignorant of finance. This is especially true if your entire economic platform is dependent on convincing people that its in their best interests to give the wealthy even more of your money. (Suddenly, trickle-down economics might seem stupid.) So yes, teabagger, an ignorant populace is critical to your base--I get it. But I submit that in the long run it is ruining the very economy we all depend upon. There's only so much people can borrow to make ends meet and we are hitting that limit. That is why basic finance should be taught in all American high schools. They don't need to know complex formulas involving derivatives, spreads, and ratios.. just basic skills like how to balance a checkbook or how credit works.

Our GOP-led House was supposed to approve a required financial literacy course this session, but it was blocked by one member: Marlene O'Toole (R-33rd District)

O'Toole is the one our genius republicans put as chair of the Education committee. She couldn't very well say that she didn't want people to remain financially stupid, so she gave what she thought was a brilliant defense: she supported it but didn’t have time to hear about it on her own damn committee. So she voted against it.

Her name is fitting. She is a tool.

(NOTE to Florida Democratic Party, I know you've never done this before in her multiple runs for House, but do you think MAYBE this year, just this once, you could find one f**king Democrat to run against her? I know its GOP territory but cripes, even if we lose this is the only time we get coverage to hold some of these idiots accountable!)

I admit that a class isn't a silver bullet to fix our financial problems. Heck, the deck is already stacked against the middle class and our plutocracy makes it damn near impossible to raise a family and save any money. Our three-legged stool of Pension, 401k, and Social Security has been systematically dismantled to funnel even more money upwards: pension plans are virtually nonexistent without unions, Social Security is constantly under assault, and our 401ks are being drained by large fees on our returns--which the bastards don't eve have to disclose. (Some Dems are fighting this, but the other side is sticking with the billion-dollar Wall Street lobbyists).

Yet it's something we can do and needs to be done. I recall being a young, teenage airmen and getting sucked into putting my phone bills on a phone company credit card instead of just paying them off. I got a bottle of soda out of it so it seemed like a good deal to me. The monthly minimum got higher and higher until my monthly payment was as much as a regular phone bill--except it went to pay off the interest and didn't make a dent in the premium. Maybe somebody at school could have taken a few minutes out of obsessing about a standardized test and told me about credit cards.

BTW, I was the smart one. Florida payday scams and title loan companies preyed on my fellow airmen mercilessly. Although Florida limits the fee on a payday loan, it charges for short-loan terms and applies verification fees. In applying an annual rate, the 10% fee is equivalent to an interest rate in excess of 500%. (For crying out loud, don't use those people!) Title loans are also horrendous. They give a few lousy bucks at sky-high interest rates... and if you miss a payment, BAMMO, your car is taken. They are scum, and BTW, LOVE themselves some Rick Scott. ick Scott is a freaking hero to these criminals: Here's one title loan ad that waxes on about him. And why wouldn't they? Rick Scott completely gutted business oversight and consumer protections for all of us.

Under Rick Suck: Movers can now change their prices mid-move, mechanics don't have to give written estimates, dozens of professions (like mold inspectors) no longer need a license, and the protections in place against our longtime problem with shady timeshare companies and loan scams have vanished.

So thanks Rick and Marlene. Keep fighting to keep Florida stupid. We'll all suffer but at least it will help ensure your re-election efforts.

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