Money, Wants and Needs, Goals – This One is Mental Therapy

Bobblehead DollDear reader, you might want to skip this article.  I write this mainly to organize some thoughts for myself.  I am not preaching; I am not trying to teach anyone but myself; if you find something that helps you, you are welcome to the words and lessons.  I have been struggling with learning a couple of things surrounding a couple of topics, and I want to take a minute and jot down some thoughts that have come to me.  I will return to weightier matters another day.  Please excuse me.

Money

My best friend, traveling companion, and spouse, once said something that stuck in my mental processes, “Money is sacred! [emphasis in original]”  She continued over time to add words to the effect that, since money requires effort and sweat to earn, money should be considered sacred and spent with purpose.  When spending money with a sacred purpose, we would necessarily change our spending habits to reflect the sacred nature of money, and in doing so, honor our sacrifice in earning money, respecting ourselves more.

Working DollarSince 2000 the software industry has undergone a very subtle shift; no longer do you purchase software, you rent it.  You make a monthly purchase for that software, which becomes more than the price you would ever have paid for the software previously.  Now, some argue this is due to the cost of upgrading software.  Some argue this is due to the price of intellectual property.  Some argue this is to reduce the cost of piracy of software.  Regardless, does this shift honor your sacrifice in earning money?

Games, especially phone games, are really expensive.  I have an addiction problem to phone games.  I quickly get hooked, then I justify making a dollar purchase here, a two-dollar purchase there, and then at the end of the month, look at the bill and see I spent $400 on a phone game.  True story.  I turn on the passwords; I turn on the purchase blockers, I try hard to avoid making purchases.  I can only succeed when I delete the games, put down my phone, and stop playing games.  I have tried playing games without making purchases and would argue that it is nearly impossible to play any game without making purchases. The games are not designed to be played; they are intended to be cash machines for the game manufacturers.  Maybe I am jaded, but I have yet to find any game that does not require regular cash infusions; believe me, I have tried to find a game that can be played without spending money, and I quit looking.

I am thoroughly embarrassed, shocked, dismayed, and disgusted by how much I have spent on games.  I lost my head some time ago, and it is past time I got myself back together again.  I turned off the last game this morning and will begin the slow addiction recovery process this morning; if I am grumpy, edgy, and bearish to be around, my apologies.  For the last couple of months, I have been overcoming sugar addictions that I think will kill me, gluten addictions that are harder than chocolate and tobacco combined, and I thought chocolate would kill me.  In the quest to lose weight and clean up my life to improve my diabetes, I am left with many questions about addictions and crutches.Question

I was speaking to a medical professional a month or two back and jokingly said:

Food for too long has been my comfort zone; I wonder what will take its place now that diabetes has ended food being the comfort blanket.”

Me and my big mouth!

For those going through addiction recovery for the more common drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex, etc., know you are not alone.  I have been there for tobacco, now for sugar, chocolate, gluten, money, and food!  It never ceases to amaze me what humans will become addicted to, what we will use to find comfort in, what we wrap ourselves up in to find security and peace to silence the voices in our heads and a good night’s sleep.  I offer you the same hope I cling to, “We were born to succeed; we can do this!”

Wants and Needs

Robert Fulghum explained this one so well in one of his early books.  I will summarize his story but take the time to look up his story; you will laugh, HARD!  He is staffing a reception desk at a Dude Ranch Hotel on a night shift where he gets his meals included, but he has to pay for them from his salary.  The employee meals have been sauerkraut and sausages for a couple of weeks.  He is frustrated; he is mad; he wants to quit.  He reaches a boiling point.  He unloads one night on his relief an older gentleman, a WWII POW camp survivor (I think if I remember the story right).  Anyway, after listening to the rantings and ravings of a childish teenager, this older gentleman gives Mr. Fulghum a piece of advice, “you have to learn the difference between wants and needs.”

GearsI fully appreciate I struggle with this lesson.  I keep getting wants and needs confused.  Do I need a chocolate bar?  Do I want something to eat?  Do I want food?  Do I need food?  Much of my weight problem is trying to figure out wants versus needs.  Much of my mental state is wants versus needs and the confusion between what I want and what I need.  Going back to the games, do I really need a bucket of gems, or that shiny bottle of vitality?

While writing this section, the Grammarly word choices reminded me of another aspect of this conversation, words that confuse the wants versus needs selection cycle.  The English language continues to be a double-edged sword, sufficient to describe and to confuse in the same stroke.  Trying to figure out what I want and distinguishing between what I need has become clouded.  Why?  How?  I have learned that it does not matter when or where the clouding occurred, these happened, it is done; the job is to get them unclouded and get moving forward!

Goals

I do not know the original source.  I have heard several people make similar statements; I am not the initial source of the following thought.

If you have a dream, write it down.  Now you have an action item.  With that action item, give it a date you want to have it accomplished by.  Now you have a goal.  With that goal, set specific steps to achieve and milestones.  Now you have a plan.”

I would add a final thought.  Upon completion of each milestone and especially upon completion of the goal, CELEBRATE!  Celebrate failure, celebrate success.  Then the day after, hold an “After Action Review (AAR)” and review what was learned, pain points, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Start anew!  Too often, we miss the celebrations, and we forget to hold the self-reflections, and in doing so, we do not bring a goal to a close, and we do not write down lessons learned.  Failure to learn lessons means we relive those lessons.  How very tragic!Exclamation Mark

To answer the inevitable question, yes.  I have a list of goals for the coming year.  No, I will not be sharing this list publicly.  Yes, the goals are written down.  Yes, I have an end date.  Yes, I look to have the goals completed in 365-days.  Mental therapy is useless if I do not apply the lessons in my own life!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Truth About Casino’s and Lotteries

Government Largess 4In the late 1980s, I was a newspaper delivery boy for the Bangor Daily Newspaper.  My route included Bayside, home of the Northport Yacht Club, the marina, and the cottages that make up this secluded community.  One day, a yacht-owning customer bought a paper, then asked me about the hottest topic, Maine was about to adopt a lottery program to “help pay for K-12 education throughout the state.”  As a kid of 11, I had no opinion on this topic; I just sold the newspapers.  But, the conversation got me thinking, and that following Sunday, I sat down to the editorials and read both sides of the contest.  Including a political cartoon that has never left my mind.

Stupidity-TaxAs I have aged and experienced, this cartoon returns to mind quite often.  As does the premise behind lotteries and casinos, the house always wins.  While living in New Mexico, the gaming commission complained that with revenues from lotteries slumping, less money could be paid to the state for K-12 education, causing a cash shortage requiring higher taxes for public education.  With their high six-figure salaries, their enormous cash outlays, and income, the gaming commission could not find sufficient money; I am not buying the excuses!  But, the house always wins.  Believe it or not, the announcement that higher taxes were looming because of a slump in lottery buying led to higher sales of lottery tickets, and the “cash crisis” was obverted.

Worse, casinos saw an increase in gambling attendees, which also helped to avoid a cash crunch causing higher taxes.  The increase in sales on lottery tickets and casino gambling also saw an expontential increase in gambling debts, gambling addictions, and gambling-related crimes to feed the people’s gambling obsessions, worsening the public burden on gambling support programs and increasing the costs of these programs.  The house always wins!King of Id-Casino

Richard Brookhiser authored “What would the Founding Fathers Do? (Our Questions Their Answers), and on pages 97-99, discusses President Thomas Jefferson’s debt and his pitch to the Virginia Legislature to hold lotteries arguing both for and against state-sponsored lotteries.  In Jefferson’s remarks, we find the trouble and the social consequences of state-sponsored lotteries.  Pres. Jefferson stated, “If we consider games of chance immoral, then every pursuit of human industry is immoral; for there is not a single one that is not subject to chance.”  Further pointing out that farmers bet on the weather, Captains of ships bet their lives and crew lives, builders bet on market conditions, etc.  Jefferson’s second point on state-sponsored lotteries makes two compelling points to today’s discussion, that of the addicted gambler and the responsibility of the state to protect them against their actions, and that building, shipping, trade, farming, etc. all produce or handle real products and services that pay off the debts; but games of chance are pure diversions and thoroughly unproductive.

Lottery Tax QuoteBrookhiser noted, “Libertarian Jefferson saw chance everywhere; Republican Jefferson saw the damage that pursuing games of chance create, and both Jeffersons dueled to Jefferson’s death.”  Worse, both of President Jefferson’s ideas are found in current society and the gambling crisis prevalent in every state in the American Union!  We find thoroughly unproductive state lotteries raking in cash through tickets and casinos, balls, and scratch-offs, creating a regular addicted population of gamblers for the government to expand to take care of, protect, and guide.  As a conservative, I ask continually, why is it the government’s job to protect and guide the addicted through their own choices, behaviors, and lifestyles?  If President Jefferson were here today, I would ask him why he considers it the government’s job to engage in thoroughly unproductive lotteries and games of chance and why the addicted need government intervention?

Detective 4Since President Jefferson is not here to ask, I put the question to you.  With the expense of holding games of chance, casinos, and lotteries, is this money well-spent by the taxpayers?  Since these games of chance, lotteries, and casinos breed social problems, creating poor people, and destroying morals, ethics, and values, is the government responsible for the addicted people crushed by gambling?  I have worked on Indian Reservations, where gambling is a significant industry, and I witnessed how much casinos create trouble, damage, and chaos.  My heart wept at the lives destroyed, the potential wasted, and the land blighted through gambling, and I cannot shake wondering why the state would allow and support the gambling and games of chance.

Brookhiser quoted President Jefferson, “… As in those of insanity, idiocy, and infancy, etc., it is the duty of society to take gambling addicts under its protection; even against their own acts, and to restrain their right of choice of these pursuits, by suppressing them entirely.”  I say NO!  If you choose to gamble until you are addicted, it is not the responsibility of anyone but yourself.  Sure, you will need help to overcome the addiction, but society should not foot the bill!  Like every other addiction humans become entangled with; society should not have to foot the bill to help the addict.  Helping the addict is the role of the church and non-profit, non-government-supported relief agencies, not the taxpayer!  The house always wins.

ArizonaUsing Arizona as an example, the Arizona Lottery gave back to the community $226.14 Million in 2020.  In 2019, the Arizona Lottery, using a Multi-State Lottery Association scheme, exceeded $1 Billion in revenue.  Speaking of how the house always wins, see the disparity between raised and given back?  More than $8000 Million went to overhead, salaries, and other sources, but somehow Arizonans are expected to feel grateful for the $226.14 Million in crumbs returning to Arizona.  Why again is the state sponsoring games of chance, creating new and “exciting” games of chance, and helping gambling addicts created through state-sponsored lotteries?

In researching for this topic, I have reviewed resources for and against lottery winners’ ravages, from the lottery’s curse, where people have gone broke and are worse off than before winning to the exact opposite where up to a decade after winning, the winners are better off financially and emotionally.  The deciding factor always comes back to the individuals involved’ attitude and choices, just like everything else in life, how you choose, how you evaluate consequences, and what you do with this information determines your destiny.  Yet, I return to the same questions, time and time again, why is the state sponsoring games of chance?  Where does all the rest of the money go?  Why is the state involved in addiction recovery programs when they caused and supported those populations becoming addicted in the first place?

Stupid People TaxA “Liberty FIRST Culture” needs to be asking more challenging questions and demanding more answers that make sense logically, that open doors for success, not addictions to unproductive behaviors.  I learned early that gambling was a tax on stupidity and have avoided the lure of lotteries.  The curse of gambling addiction has affected my family, city, state, and country for far too long without accountability from the state for their abhorrent actions and behaviors in supporting lotteries and casinos.  We, the citizens of America, need to understand and have clear information to improve choices and government directions.  Where casinos and lotteries are concerned since the house always wins, who owns the house?

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.