Eli was born at Truman Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri by emergency c-section.
Truman is the "public hospital" or at least used to be. It's the place where the indigent go, victims of violent crime, the ones who waited through sickness until nearly dead before finally attempting to get treatment, and people like us.
Many of Truman's bills were forgiven, as was mine. It was the equivalent of a years' wage. I offered to give them back the child which they considered, then declined.
But by the time he was ready to start kindergarten I had changed jobs to one with a nearly livable salary (still no health care insurance, needless to say), saved a little bit of money, and set out to pursue the American dream; home ownership.
It was 1998 and times seemed good. Times were good.
The nice lady at Mercantile Bank (now US Bank) got us into a "first time buyers program" and helped to clear the bug-a-boos from my precious credit report (remarkably, the Truman Hospital bill was not amongst those). Seemed miraculous, but in no time at all we were handed the keys to 'our own' home, in a seed area (the upper ghetto) where we were gifted 10 percent of the purchase price through the CHIPS program at closing.
Thusly, the dead-end ghetto estate era began rather joyfully- house payment less than rent- elementary school a short walk around the corner- wife in the midst of a period of minimal insanity.
But ah, the beginning of the end was soon to come. When things seem to be going well, watch your back!
Credit report being recently scrubbed shiny and a few mortgage payments made on time, card offers began to roll in.
At 40 years of age I had never had or missed having a credit card, but rationalized that it might be nice for emergencies, etc. (as I had been told), and succumbed to the temptation.
One card with a five hundred dollar limit, at first. I tentatively made a small purchase, enjoying slightly the absurd notion that they had given ME one of these crazy pieces of plastic. HA, but that day, somewhere deep within, I knewthat I had taken my first step towards the most slippery of slopes.
However, being too smart for them, I paid the bill in full on the day it arrived. Whew.. no balance left, no interest paid.
Little did I know that I had passed a test that day.
The accounting gremlin, who had been banished to the North Dakota branch for what must have been some terrible misdeed, deposited my check, raised my FICA score by a hundred points, then sent a handwritten note via winged monkey courier to the big guy himself at his marble palace in the Hamptons.
The note read "BOSS, WE HAVE A LIVE ONE!"
The boss, a true one percenter who had never raised a finger for any sort of labor, snatched the note from the exhausted monkey, let ring an earthshaking BWAHAHAHAHA, then summoned a brace of hookers who had previously been virtuous young ladies before letting their credit scores drop below five hundred (he kept the girls on retainer, at minimum wage), to file his hooves- his way of celebrating.
In two years time my property had 'doubled in value.'
-Refinance, well of course! Used some of the money to buy another house, a HUD foreclosure, for cheap. Fixed it up, rented it out, re-fied, bought another.
The cards kept rolling in, ones with larger credit limits. I used them to buy materials to fix up the investments. That seemed justifiable. I had a long term plan now!
I had 9 mortgage payments, and near the same number of credit card payments each month, but the rents rolled in including a tidy profit... I re-fied large sums out of each property, tax free profit as it was a loan which in theory was paid back by the renters.
Until... they didn't pay. Our collective had bubble burst.
Still I plodded on. I had a project that needed materials to finish and times were no longer good, but then as if an answer to a prayer, CHASE raised my credit limit by a thousand!
I bought what I needed on the card and then... the bill arrived. My preferred customer 6% rate had been upped to 24% because I had used the credit they had offered, putting me over some imaginary boundary they had made up overnight, without telling me. Never once, had I made a late payment... up to that point.
The gig was up. My minimum credit card payments were over a grand per month... all interest, and the one percenters were pleased, until I stopped paying them.
Recently I received a credit card offer. The VISA lemon card.
I threw the lemon card offer in the trash immediately. Wish I would have scanned a copy, because not surprisingly there are no images of it to be found on the net.
I am no longer a slave to that portion of the one percent known as bankers, the ones who soak us that work. I wonder, really I do, what would happen if everyone in this country, in the world even, just quit making payments on their unsecured debt?
Think that would get the attention of the Wall Street elite?
Occupy my shorts parasites.