In this government shutdown the piece that disturbs me more than the debt ceiling, more than the Obamacare debate, more than the lack of a budget, is our Congress’ inability to compromise. In truth, we’ve been handed the government we deserve: people we’ve elected are there because they’ve promised not to back down, never compromise, and that they’d “never stop fighting” until they delivered exactly what we, as voters have asked them to achieve.
How are you liking the results?
Sadly, it seems our friends in Washington know the truth about the electorate: If they compromise, we’ll be the first ones to run them out of office for actually reaching across the aisle and trying to pass legislation. There’ll be pictures on MSNBC or Fox News showing them sharing a beer with that horrible person from the other side of the aisle. Two days later it’s billboard material and we kick them out of office.
Imagine trying to be “uncompromising” with your personal finances.
When paying down debt, a popular tactic is to talk to lenders and structure more favorable terms. Is it in a lender’s best interest to compromise and cut you a better deal? Maybe, if they think you’re more likely to pay. At the very least, they’ll listen without prejudice toward anything but your credit score and your request.
We compromise while shopping. You should negotiate all day to score a better deal. It turns out that if you ask a car dealer for more, for example (as illustrated in this fantastic recent series from Matt at Mom and Dad Money), you’re likely to find a favorable response. Why? They want to sell a car and you want to buy one.
At home, you have to have some give and take in your budget. My spouse wants to travel to Italy. I want to hit the Canadian Rockies. What do we do? We discuss our long term goals, our budget, and any opportunities we may have to save on the trip. Once we’ve focused on a course of action, then we search for travel deals, find side income, and begin a monthly savings plan.
If we want anything out of our government, I believe we need to rethink who we elect. Rather than the person who can scream the loudest (Ted Cruz has been using the absurd hashtag #MakeDCListen lately), maybe we should focus on electing people who can give and take. I’ll bet we won’t get everything we want, but this is Washington D.C., not Walt Disney World (although I think many of our Congress people live in Fantasyland).
I wonder if President Obama refuses to negotiate with his cell phone carrier? I can imagine that discussion now: “I’m not paying you one cent until you restructure my contract.” Yeah….that ain’t happenin’.
In Other News
– Thanks to Andrew at Living Rich Cheaply for mentioning our podcast. Check out How to Be Productive During Your Commute.
– A big thanks also to Feeling Financial for discussing our podcast in their What I’ve Been Reading post.
I have many more people to thank! I’ll mention a few more every day until I catch up….
Photo: Putin arm wrestling Wikimedia Commons