In Johann von Goethe’s famous tragic tale “Faust,” Mephistopheles offers Faust all of the riches in the world, love and a life of luxury. In exchange, Faust must give him his soul. The two parties agree and Faust eventually faces perpetual suffering.
Oscar Wilde’s famous story “The Picture of Dorian Gray” maintains the same type of account. Dorian Gray wishes to be youthful for the rest of his life, but he endures unimaginable misery for years to follow.
The classic F.W. Murnau picture “The Devil and Daniel Webster” has a similar Faust tale. The main character sells his soul for vast wealth for seven years and nothing harmful ever occurs in his life. However, when the seven years are up, he must spend his time in hell (I won’t reveal the ending).
All of these narratives can be related to the present government economic and fiscal policy. In other words, the Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, have supported Faustian Economics, measures that spend today and neglect tomorrow.
Not just governments are guilty of this practice, but the common folk are also applying these concepts to their own lives. The average consumer spends their hard earned money or uses his or her credit card today, while putting it on the tab in order to address the problems tomorrow.
Is it anyone’s fault? Yes and no. For decades, we have experienced unfathomable wealth due to free enterprise, free markets and capitalism. The rich and the poor have become richer due to the innovation of man, whether it’s in technology, energy or miscellaneous goods and services. Also, the past couple of generations haven’t really had to make considerable sacrifices compared to the era of the Great Depression.
Therefore, it can be concluded that it can take a lot of willpower to save and invest the money in your wallet or bank account. Everywhere one goes, he or she is tempted to shop and spend and attempt to rationalize the behavior with such sentiments as “it’s good for the economy,” “I’ll cut back on my groceries next week” and “I can afford it.”
Furthermore, easy credit, low interest rates and stores offering zero down or monthly payments are also contributing factors, but it should be noted that it’s not these establishments’ fault (except the Federal Reserve) because no one is forcing a consumer to consume.
We have all been spoiled. We have all lived beyond our means. We have all neglected the future for the present. Unfortunately, we all must address the fiscal issues at hand and start becoming virtuous with our finances. Indeed, we must enhance our willpower strength and it will take sacrifice, but it can be done as long we learn the notions of saving today to enjoy tomorrow.