Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bear Traps

Please don't step in one of these!  If you see one, put up a sign saying 'Warning! Bear Trap!' to warn others.  And please, please, don't try to convince me that stepping in bear traps is 'safe, if done carefully'!

You are walking the woods, and you see a Bear Trap.  It is deadly and dangerous, and if you put your foot in it, you will likely lose your foot - or have to gnaw it off to get to freedom.

Now, you might see that Bear Trap and get pissed off.  Who is setting these Bear Traps?  Whoever the asshole is, he ought to be held accountable!   We should go protest at the house of the guy who sets bear traps!   We should pass a law against setting Bear Traps!

And guess what?  There usually are such laws.  But people set the traps anyway.

And it is tragic when someone stumbles into a Bear Trap unknowingly, and loses a foot.  It makes you angry and sad at the same time.  But few people step into these traps unwittingly.  Most have their eyes wide open at the time.

Many folks, when they come upon a Bear Trap, they say, "Hey Look!  A Bear Trap!  Let's play with it!  I bet I can put my foot in it without setting it off!  Watch Me!  Arrrrrrrgh!"

And that is exactly what people do, when the see such traps.  And they will call me a fool (or worse) for saying, "Hey, watch out!  Bear Trap!"

And when I heard the sound of metal springing and the screams of agony, I walk away.  After all, the person I just tried to warn was calling me every name in the book.  Let him figure it out for himself, then.

Bear Traps come in all sorts of forms, and they are usually baited with sweet honey to entice you to step in them.  While hunters may try to camouflage such traps in the wild, in our world, they are usually out in the open, in plain sight, with a huge sign on them saying "Bear Trap!"

And people step in them anyway.  And you ask them why, and they say, "well, for the sweet honey!"

Human Bear Traps are financial instruments.  And such financial instruments can hurt you - or force you to gnaw off a leg to get away.  And they are all baited with sweet honey - new cars, frequent flyer miles, cash back bonuses, granite counter-tops, a new jet ski, rent-to-own furniture, etc.  And no matter how sweet the honey is, it ain't worth losing a foot over.

And there are other, far safer ways (and far easier ways) to get sweet honey.

How do you avoid getting hurt by a Bear Trap?  Give them wide berth.  Never step in one.  Ignore the sweet honey.  Move on and don't look back.  And don't listen to people who dare you to step in the trap, snatch the sweet honey, and jump out before it springs - because you likely will get caught.  99% of people who step in these traps do.

Leasing a car, high-interest rate credit cards, nothing-down toxic ARM mortgages, high-interest consumer loans, car loans with disguised interest rates, payday loans, pawn shops  - these are all Bear Traps, and there are many, many more.  They do nothing but take from you and give nothing in return.  The sweet honey, you end up paying for - at a price many times its actual value.

Just stay away from these traps.  They are well marked, if you know where to look for the signs.  Usually these financial documents themselves tell you, in fine print, what horrible deals they are - in fact, the fine print usually is an indication of what a rotten deal you are getting.  The more fine print, the worse the deal is.

And if you see a trap like this, don't be afraid to warn your friends and neighbors about them! 

But don't be surprised when one of your neighbors, his leg already in the trap, ridicules you, telling you what a lovely trap it is, and besides, he can't feel that leg anymore, anyway.