Both of my grandmothers and the oldest of my aunts would say, “Have We Lost Our Ever-Loving Minds?” to describe things people did that made no sense. I have a great fondness for the peculiar phrase. It points me back to my wonderful upbringing. It makes me remember that the human mind is truly made to be “ever-loving”. This thought fuels my desire to always keep love alive. But without getting too literal, the common meaning of this wording was always clear. If not using your mind is a bad thing, then losing your mind is worse. And losing your ever-loving mind is the ultimate insanity.
Trusting the Label
I’ve used this expression all my life whenever I encountered something bewildering to me. It popped into my mind when I first encountered a most bazaar product in the grocery store. It was labeled “fat-free half and half”. The description probably sounds good to those desiring yummy taste and creamy texture without consuming fat. But what on earth is it? Half and half, by definition, is one part whole milk and one part heavy cream, right? From my high school home economic classes I learned that whole milk is 3.5% milkfat, and heavy cream. As the name implies, it is the heavy, creamy, high fat portion of milk.
How can these be combined to create a product that is fat-free? They cannot, of course. However, we’ve been conditioned to accept marketing ploys like this one at face value, not bothering to read the ingredients on the label, or delve into the processing concept to determine what’s in the product. In many ways I find that the labelling, marketing and common practices of our world have lured us into accepting things that just don’t make sense.
Understand and Agree
For example, I have a growing concerned about the “lies” we are forced to tell every time we set up an account on the internet. “I HAVE READ, UNDERSTAND AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS AND AGREEMENTS, POLICIES AND PROCEDURES, etc.” How often have these words stared at me on the page? They’re always accompanied by a little square box on the side, waiting for me to click to confirm. Of course, I agree. I have no choice except to agree if I want to gain access to the next screen. So, I hastily click the box even though I have not read anything.
A couple of tough problems draw me into this lie. The first problem is that the document I’m asked to read is long. If I came to the site to order something online or to check funds in my account, I have neither time nor brain power to read a long document. Second, it’s written in legalese rather than plain English. I don’t have the education to understand it – despite my many years working in the insurance industry. I dare say that the majority of people are just like me. Few will stop to actually read and understand before clicking the box. In my opinion, these electronic agreements can be defined as following: wicket little contracts between two parties—an individual and a business entity—in which both parties know that one party is lying! Yes, we’ve lost our ever-loving minds!
The financial industry promotes many twisted thinking patterns that sound good but can’t hold up under scrutiny. Take the F.D.I.C., for example. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is believed by many to insure the deposits that we have in banks, thereby giving us confidence in putting our money in these banks. Most have never stopped to read the fine print, to discover exactly which deposits are insured or to evaluate the stability of this insurance arrangement. Recent bank failures have driven many to take a closer look. So I’d like to offer just one thought for our consideration, starting with what we know.
The F.D.I.C. is backed by the federal government. As of this writing, the federal debt stands at $31.9 trillion, according to the US Debt Clock. Many economists point out that despite the enormity of this number, it does not include certain “unfunded liabilities”. The largest of these is social security, making the actual debt over $100 trillion if these were included. The F.D.I.C. as an insurance vehicle has liabilities that exceed its assets. As depositors, we are putting our trust in an insolvent insurance vehicle. This is like giving our money to our broke Uncle Sam. We’ve lost our ever-loving minds! This is truly insanity.
Find Our Ever-Loving Minds
Indeed, when it comes to money, perfectly sane people can sometimes adopt insane practices. The financial landscape is changing rapidly, and we struggle to keep up. The opportunities and products available for us to consider are complex, multi-faceted digital innovations that would take years to fully understand. We are generally required to move forward with our money decisions before acquiring full understanding, creating an uncomfortable dilemma that is enough to drive a person crazy. The key to maintaining sanity in these times is to collaborate in a good, financial literacy community. Together we can find our “ever-loving minds” and put them to proper (and profitable) use.
Learn more from Gail here.