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Can financial peace exist in America? - Jason A. Smith

A couple of years ago, I attended a series of classes at my church, geared toward helping people to manage their finances more effectively.

Readers of this column may have heard of it. It's called Financial Peace University (FPU), and it was started by radio and television host, Dave Ramsey.

My wife and I learned so much during our first experience with the course, and we began to put those lessons into practice.

In the class, participants learn about the value of paying down on one's debts, not using credit cards at every turn and sacrificing immediate gain, in the interest of a secure future.

By the time we were finished with our last session, our finances had improved dramatically, along with our level of discipline with regard to how we spent our money.

Of course, that didn't last long. Although we have never allowed our finances to suffer in quite the same fashion as we once did, we seem to have forgotten the basics, including the concept of not spending money we don't have.

This week at my church, we started attending our second set of classes for FPU. In addition to being reminded of ways in which we have lost our focus financially in the last few years, I began to think of other people who would benefit from such a course.

The main people I thought of were not young married couples, who are where my wife and I were just a few short years ago.

Instead, I began to think of another, quite larger, group of individuals who need to take the class - the members of the U.S. Congress.

In the last few years, the national economy has taken hit after hit, rendering individuals and many small businesses unable to cope.

In response, our political leaders have done little more than throw more money at the problem, resulting in an ever-growing mountain of debt and financial turmoil.

If this were a married couple struggling to see light at the end of the tunnel, they would be told not to spend money they don't have, and to exhibit more self-control.

Why should the response be any different for the government?

I wonder what Dave Ramsey would say to the people in Congress, about the way in which they have gone about rescuing America from the dangers of financial ruin.

Something tells me he would inform them they have gone about their duties the wrong way, putting the country at risk with their spending frenzies and handouts.

Granted, our elected representatives - not Ramsey - are the ones who are charged with the responsibility of addressing the country's economy.

But if we don't demand thatthey act more responsibly with our money very soon, financial peace in America could be impossible to achieve.

Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.