January 4, 2010 The New York Times announced that “Hillary Rodham Clinton has been raising money for the United States…” My first reaction when reading those words was, “Oh! Good! We need all the help we can get.” However, the rest of the sentence was, “…which needed $61 million to build a pavilion at a world’s fair in Shanghai.” I usually don’t pay much attention to announcements like this, but my reaction to the last half of the sentence was very different from the first half. The idea of spending $61 million to build a pavilion in Shanghai, which is half a world away, was instant dismay. “Can we afford to be spending money like that?” I asked myself. I have always maintained a sense of hope and excitement about the future, and have been certain that by working together we can come to a place of balance and prosperity without returning to the days of wanton consumerism. Anyone who is working to balance their budget and honor their debts while struggling to hold up their end of the numerous agreements made long ago with bankers, utility companies, and credit card companies might feel the same way. Here are the questions I am sitting with today: Where are the signs of responsibility in our leaders? How long can we ignore the idea that they seem to be deliberately leading us into long-term financial slavery? If businesses, banks, and corporations can suddenly change the terms of our agreements with them to suit themselves, when do we get the right to change the terms to accommodate the ups and downs of our own lives? If corporations can send credit reports on us to a Credit Reporting agency, and banks and insurance companies can use this information to charge us higher interest rates or deny credit altogether, where is the corresponding consumer agency that penalizes banks and corporations when their fees, interest, and miscellaneous charges generate a certain number of complaints from us?