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Monday, September 12, 2011

Third of my Bi-Partisan Interview

This is the third 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 third interview is with Matt Smith and he considers himself a liberal. Matt is a very talented actor who has had parts in films such as Outsourced, an internet serial Cookus Interuptus, improvisation with The Edge, along with his own one-man shows. He is also a professional auctioneer and teaches improv. workshops. I don't think I can cover everything he does so here is his website.

Here are his answers to my five questions:

Sustentation Finance:  How do you manage money in your family?  Is one person in charge or is it a family effort?
Matt Smith: My wife does the actual managing of the money.  It’s 80/20, mostly her doing. But the big decisions are made into collaboratively.

S.F.:  How do you view debt?  Do you think there is "good debt" and "bad debt" or is it all "just debt"?
M.S.: I think all debt is bad, but often worth it, like with a house, considering the alternative, which is renting.  Unless you buy at the top of the bubble.  Yikes!  A good loan would be a 30 year home mortgage at 4 or 5%, 2 years later, after inflation kicks in, and the payments seem to get smaller and smaller, as rents rise. But you can’t count on that, can you?

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?
M.S.: Everyone is responsible.  I am responsible. Of course, the bankers who made the policies that allowed other bankers to make commissions on bad loans, during war time (the War on Terror) should be tried for treason. Some of them hung.  At half time of an NFL Football game. How can a banker make a loan without getting 20% down on the house? Would you make that loan?  But the real responsibility is with Ronald Reagan and those that admire what he did. Deregulation means no rules, and we all get screwed by the first people “smart”  and ruthless enough to take advantage. And of course, the buyers.  They got caught up in the delusion, and sacrificed themselves for a corny American Dream.  And ‘dream’ it is.

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?
M.S.: I don’t plan to retire until I am retired.  No complaints though, since I have been semi-retired most of my life, being self employed in the Arts, and doing work that is seasonal.  I think social security  will be taken away, and then come back.   That’s what it will take to wake up the Tea Party as to how they’ve been manipulated by corporate ad men, who prey on the resentments of people who chose stupidity over truth, so they can hang on to their deep seeded rage.  Cause it’s hard to let go of, and to take responsibility for yourself, let alone for others. After Social security is taken away, there will be a revolution. Democracy as we know it (which is not democracy at all) will be gone, “poof”, and replaced by something else, more honest, like real democracy, socialism or a dictatorship. Hopefully a socialist democracy, something like what has been working in Europe, with the dogs sniffing at the door trying to get back in.  But you can’t take away social security and get away with it, cause people will actually go hungry.

It used to be that people voted in their self interest.  That interest was food and shelter.  But it is confused now.  People are “full” because they eat stuff called “food”, stuff that isn’t really food, but the courts have secured the rights of corporations to call it something it isn’t, to promote sales. It’s cheap, and they are fat, so they don’t feel hungry. And much of this stuff is addictive. And they watch TV in a warm place.  So they are reached through the TV.  Whoever appeals most effectively to their fear wins. Until they are fooled into give up their social security. That will be interesting.  So we’ll lose it, and then we’ll get it back.  Or something like it.

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?
M.S.: De-certify corporations.  Change the 14th ammendment  (is it the 14th? That treats corporations as as individuals?) so it actually protects individuals. Make it illegal to spend your own money, or anyone’s money, on elections.  A certain amount is supplied by the government, and that’s it.   That will start changing things.  As far as the debt goes, we missed our chance to NOT bail everyone out , and essentially start over, allowing it to sort itself out.  There would have been great pain, and solutions would have emerged.  But we don’t like pain.  Also, limit military spending to 20% of what we spend for social programs. No more, ever. The “interests” we are protecting with the military are not the interests of the American people. Never have been.  The corruption has reached cartoon-like proportions. And it’s obvious, and we can see it clearly, and it’s STILL not stopping. Cause no one is making them (us!) stop. But changing the election laws would eventually change the courts, and the game, which is rigged so brazenly, will become a little less rigged.  And of course, tax the rich.  Half of the country’s wealth is in the hands of 250 people.  They think the money belongs to them.  It doesn’t.  Not all of it.  Not most of it.  We need it back.

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