from Casey Research:
“Raise your hand if you’re scared of flying.” The professor of my Intro to Psychology course made this request of the class on the very first day of college. Of the 30 or so students in the room, six raised their hands.
Even as a dumb 18-year-old, I knew my professor’s example was bogus. The mathematical odds of death are just one of several valid reasons to fear something. Another is a lack of control: flying makes me nervous because I’m putting my life in the hands of a stranger. There’s nothing irrational about that.
Debt worries me much more than flying, but for the same reason: I have no control over it. Not personal debt, of course: I have 100% control over my credit card, auto, student loan, and mortgage debt. I’m talking about Uncle Sam’s big, fat federal debt, which today stands at over $17.5 trillion. As one of 115 million taxpayers, my own personal portion of that is $152,000. Add in my wife’s share, and we’re up to $304,000. Do we have to include that in our net-worth calculation when we apply for a mortgage?
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