I published a piece here in my early days on Steemit (which was only a few months ago) called, Embrace The Wobble. Without going into all of the details the post explained how, despite making what were considered to be responsible financial decisions and having good jobs, my wife and I nearly ended up in financial ruin after buying a home shortly before the bottom dropped out of the real estate market in 2008.
To make matters worse, when we purchased the house our mortgage broker recommended an 80/20 mortgage, which was actually two loans. He explained this would allow us to pay a smaller monthly payment by financing eighty percent of the home price with a traditional mortgage and the other twenty percent with an interest-only fifteen year loan. The idea would be to refinance in a few years as our salaries and the market value of the property increased. This seemed like a safe bet. After all, real estate prices in the area had gone in only one direction for the previous fifty years...UP!
Just a few months later the unthinkable happened, the Housing Crisis hit. Four months after we closed on the house it was worth over sixty-thousand dollars less than we owed.
We weren’t alone; there were many homeowners in America who got screwed. In our neighborhood there were two to three homes on nearly every block that were vacant due to foreclosure. This made the market values plummet even further. The banks were bailed out with our tax dollars and American citizens were left to figure it out on our own. My wife and I spent the next seven years of our lives attempting to bail ourselves out through overtime pay, revenue from my writing, and an online tea business we ran on the side. The hole was so large that hard work wasn’t enough.
It seemed the harder we worked the more we fell behind. Even though the market price of our home went down local property taxes skyrocketed. In one six month period alone we were hit with over four thousand dollars in, “special tax assessments” by the city that had to be paid in ninety days or it would be rolled into escrow (raising our monthly payment) and we would be charged interest on top of it. What was becoming clear was, the middle class was the cash cow of every level of government and they were pulling those teats with wild abandon until they were completely dry.
We saw the real estate prices trending higher late 2014 and decided to roll the dice and get the house ready to put on the market. We were finally able to sell in September of 2015 but only after taking out a pretty sizeable loan and credit card debt that allowed us to make the improvements to the property that would warrant a large enough market value to pay off both mortgages.
This period of life taught me some lessons that I’ll never forget:
The foxes (big banks) are lording over the henhouse (financial regulatory bodies of the U.S.) So embedded are these banks that they are not only not being regulated but are actually directly and/or indirectly writing legislation that is in their best interest; and
No one (and I mean no one) is looking out for the best interest of us, the American citizens, in any way. In fact, the opposite is happening, we’re being systematically preyed upon.
Fast forward to Summer of 2016, along came a new social media platform called Steemit. Every aspect of it was new to me except for the writing, that I had been pursuing for twenty three years.
I had heard of Bitcoin in the media but I had no real understanding of what cryptocurrency was or how it worked, nor was I really that interested in it. It was only through cashing in my Steem Dollars (SBD) through Poloniex, converting to Bitcoin, and then to US Dollars that I learned more about the concept of cryptocurrency. Even a month after joining Steemit it still didn’t feel like the money I was making was real. I saw my earnings rising steadily and I was ecstatic but it felt like a game.
By the end of August I attained a novice-level of experience with cryptocurrency and I was beginning to enjoy it enough to have a desire to learn more. I was getting some helpful pointers and learning by proxy from a few folks I met on Steemit. This is around the time things really began to click in my brain. Most importantly I began to see the potential of blockchain and cryptocurrency had to change the whole paradigm of our world by shifting more power back to the individual.
By the end of Summer I was making smarter trades by selling when the prices were high. Three months after joining Steemit, around mid-September, I had already made a sizeable dent in our massive debt with revenue from my writing. For the first time in my entire career I was able to experience what real success as a writer felt like. I was telling everyone I knew about Steemit and recruiting as many as I could to join the platform.
By this time I had no doubt that cryptocurrency was real because of the tangible impact it had on my life. If all goes as planned, within the next few months, our own crypto-fueled bailout will be complete thanks to Steemit and all of your support. Without Steemit it would’ve been anyone’s guess about how long it would’ve taken to free ourselves from our incredible burden. Most importantly, this newfound financial freedom will make it much more feasible to make a pivot in my career that I’ve always dreamed of, retiring from my day job and devoting all of my time to writing.
If cryptocurrency is a glimpse of our future I say bring it on. The opportunities that cryptocurrency offers are real and it’s Wall Street’s worst nightmare. The entire traditional system of finance is like a carnival where every game is rigged. Only an infinitely small percentage of players on the very top can win and they win big. The elite and the central bank desires a future in which our society struggles on this way forever. I hope the we the people don’t let this happen. My greatest concern is the system has been rigged against us for so long it feels normal but it's not.
Only now that I’m nearly debt free do I realize the weight debt had on my psyche, subconsciously, every minute of my existence. So many around me are carrying the same heavy burden and I have this great desire to free them of it. These are good and decent people, they work hard, they pay their taxes, and no matter what they do they simply can't get ahead. For the past decade this had been me, walking a financial tightrope, living paycheck to paycheck never feeling like I would ever get ahead. The dream that I would catch a major break with my writing was all that kept me going.
What has cryptocurrency done for me? I’m far from wealthy but at least I have real hope of a better tomorrow, I feel like I have a chance, and have the confidence to make the kind of pivot necessary for substantive change. There is more than enough abundance to go around, life doesn’t have to be so harsh and difficult. Wall Street and our broken archaic financial system has failed each and every one of us, for a long time, and in the worst possible ways. Thanks to Mr. Satoshi Nakamoto and other cryptocurrency visionaries, we now have a pathway to a very different kind future that has the incredible power to set us all free.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that all of us on this platform are taking part in a great experiment that very well could go down in the history books. Like all pioneers we’ve experienced a few bumps in the road but this is to be expected with anything this revolutionary. I hope I live to see this concept and others like it hit the mainstream. One thing I do know is if this happens, our children and grandchildren will live in a much better, transparent, and equitable world.
Eric Vance Walton is an acclaimed American poet, novelist, and blogger. Eric won a 2005 Thurber Treat Prize for his fable The Heiress and the Pea. Eric’s poetry, essays, and short stories have been published widely in literary journals, magazines, and he has authored eight books.
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