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Modern slavery

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Jim Thompson

By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

We read about human trafficking and other forms of modern slavery. They are universally horrible, and we should do everything possible to eradicate them.

However, the most ubiquitous, most insidious form of modern slavery is in your pocket or purse. It is the credit card. Like most evils, it comes to us in alluring attire, displaying its convenience and excellent features (and it does have some excellent features).  

Dave Ramsey, the financial adviser for the common folks, rants about the credit card.

I can tell you when you get in trouble with a credit card – it is the first time you don’t pay the monthly bill off in its entirety. The interest rates are usurious, and once you get into that trap it, is a hard hole to dig out.  

Now, don’t think I am standing here as some sort of perfect person. I have been stuck in this hole before, too. It is a horrible place to be, and I am glad I am no longer there.

Borrowing (that’s a rich word in this context!) a bit more from Mr. Ramsey, he says the way out is to pay off your little debts first while putting away some money (he suggests $1,000) for an emergency fund. Then, the next time the car needs a repair, you can pay cash for it and start rebuilding your emergency fund again. I’ll not go any further into Mr. Ramsey’s material, I don’t want to steal his thunder. Look him up if you are drowning in debt.

Our slide down this slippery slope started about 100 years ago with national advertising on radio and in magazines. First, such ads and so forth were about soap and other daily necessities. Then came appliances and other things we were taught we “need.”  

Then we get to today where there are shiny baubles everywhere and we can “just charge them” on our credit cards.

By the way, do you know who persuaded the population that daily baths were essential? The soap companies. It was a slick way to multiply soap sales times seven as compared to the old Saturday night bath.

Ironically, The HCP and my own media company depend on advertisers to operate our business. So, perhaps, I speak a bit with forked tongue.

We also buy cars we can’t afford with payment plans longer than it takes to raise a child.  

As Ramsey says, we buy things we don’t want to impress people we don’t know with money we don’t have.

Now comes the new scourge – widespread sports betting. It is all over television and radio now, especially during sports shows. This is another slippery slope I have seen explode in my lifetime. I remember when Maryland was the only state with a lottery, let alone all the other betting going on today.

This will impoverish many more.

There are reasons why the Bible talks against usury and gambling. The inspired writers of old were not so dumb as to think these things were good for us.

Finally, our federal government is no better than the citizens when it comes to responsible spending. We have gone from a national debt in the single digit trillions to the mid-30 trillions in less than 20 years. 

The day of reckoning is coming for this, too, and we will all suffer from it.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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Matthew (not verified)

16 February 2024

About 15-20 years ago, I remember the shame I felt when I carried a credit card balance into the next month because I bought plane tickets to visit family on the left coast. Then I had to cover the costs of college that the Montgomery GI Bill didn't cover. During the Obama years, I had the burden of a credit card balance. But I was able to squash that balance during the Trump years. I don't have an answer to vehicle loans. In my neck of the woods, it's very important to have a reliable mode of transportation. For work, that's usually 20 plus miles away. To attend Christain services and to chip-in for the Missions that one feels called to do. For training and education. For groceries and a gasoline refill. And if there's time and availability, to visit family and friends.

Matthew (not verified)

17 February 2024

I cleared $35 last year on a sports betting website. I'm not smart enough on who to wager on every Sunday or for those parlays. But I'm wise enough to cash out while I'm ahead... In full disclosure, I hope the Reds win the World Series this year... Veterans' Day lunch is on me if Cincinnati wins in October. (I can see how gambling can overtake a person in their quest for the chance of big winnings. Moderation has always been the key to many things on this Earth.)

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