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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First of the Bi-Partisan Interviews

This is the first in a series of short interviews I'm doing with public figures who have different political beliefs. Everyone will be asked the same five questions and I'm curious to see if their political stance makes any difference on their view of personal financial management.

My first interviewee is Peter Bagge. Peter is a successful comic book artist and writer who has been creating popular art and comics for decades now.  His website does a much better job of describing him and his work than I could. He describes his political beliefs as "I'm a libertarian, and reject the idea that government should micromanage the nation or individual's finances."

Here are Peter's answers to my questions:

Sustentation Finance:  How do you manage money in your family?  Is one person in charge or is it a family effort?
     
 Peter Bagge: Joanne is in charge of paying bills and bank accounts etc., though we both agree on what and how we spend money on before we spend it.

S.F.: How do you view debt?  Do you think there is "good debt" and "bad debt" or is it all "just debt"?

 P.B.: Good debt is when you borrow to pay for a practical investment like a home, car or a business, and that under normal circumstances you'll be able to pay back.  Bad debt is borrowing more than you can realistically can pay back, and/or is for unnecessary items (vacations, boats, home theaters etc).

S.F.: What are your thoughts on all the foreclosures in the last few years?  Who do you think is responsible for the high rate of foreclosures - buyers? real estate agents? banks? someone else?

P.B.: All of the above, but mostly the US government for pushing the nice sounding idea of the "ownership society, which resulted in encouraging banks to make loans to people who otherwise aren't credit worthy (and guaranteeing to bail them out if the plan backfires, which is exactly what happened). The government is still pursuing this policy, while never for a second acknowledging their major role in this fiasco.

S.F.: Do you have any opinion on Social Security?  Do you think it will still be around in twenty years and if not do you think about what your financial plan will be if it's not?

P.B.: It certainly won't be around in the form it is now, since it's financially unsustainable.  The retirement age will have to go up, at the very least.  Social Security wasn't originally meant to be a pension fund when it started.  It was solely for people to old or otherwise unable to work, as well as provide for widows and orphans.  But it quickly got away from any kind of means testing and was soon offered to everybody by a certain age as a way for politicians to buy votes.  People also used to live sorter lives in the 1930s, and generally did much more physical labor.  So a retirement age of 62 or 65 in 2011 is both absurd and unrealistic.

S.F.: If you could be all-powerful and had no limits and could change whatever you wanted in our country - what would you do to bring down the huge debt in our government and balance the country's budget?

P.B.End all foreign wars, and reduce our military by at least half what it is now.  Ban ALL government funding of private businesses. Get out of health care entirely.  Social security only for those who need it, regardless of age and pay them more than they get now).  Reduce government employees wages and benefits .  Kill Homeland Security, the Dept of Education, HUD, the NEA, Fannie May and Freddie Mac, etc.

Coming up will be an interview with Suzanne Venker for a conservative's viewpoint.  We will also follow up with a liberal's viewpoint, a tea-partier's viewpoint, and a communist's viewpoint.

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