I am a punk rocker. I have a history of mohawks and every color hair imaginable. One of the ideas that I, and many others, grew up with was the idea of helping those who couldn’t help themselves. It was a very DIY culture with some flexible morals, but there was no sense of keeping your good fortune to yourself, nor was there any peer pressure. If you had something you generally shared it and, if someone didn’t need or want it, they were free to say no.
Many of the punks I knew wanted to opt out of the capitalist system. Some chose anarchy, Socialism, Communism, or systems of their own making. By getting out of debt, I give myself the choice of opting out. I doubt I will, since it’s almost impossible to opt out of the nation’s primary economic system, but I can certainly operate on a cash basis, which is a form of subversive behavior in its own right. Staying out of debt keeps me from being shackled to the credit companies. I stop paying people for the privelage of using my own money. I will be able to use my money the way I want to use it instead of paying others a huge portion of our income for the right to use things we need or want. I can save up and buy a Prius. I can sponsor an artist (or at least buy a work of art from a struggling artist). I can start my own business that. I can donate more to causes I believe in. Being thrifty and environmentally aware will give me choices.
Yes, I’m an idealist. I believe that every little bit helps. $20 donated to a food bank may not seem like much, but they can make it stretch. Growing my own vegetables saves me money and is that much less pesticide laden food that needs to be produced. Hanging my laundry and turning off the compact flourescent lights saves energy. Supporting organic growers ensures there’s a demand for that kind of food.
I am trying my best to be true to my roots. I live a privelaged existence. We are not worried about food, shelter, clean air and water, or not having enough of what we need. Getting out of debt is about having more choices for us, not a matter of affording food or medicine. I believe it is my responsibility to help others who don’t have as much as we do. I used to walk around San Francisco giving out McDonalds coupons and flowers to the homeless people I saw. Not exactly the most nutritious choice, but it was food. I can’t do that where I live now, but it’s not impossible to help others. And the DIY culture that I grew up with gives me the impetus to try to be self-sufficient. Reducing my dependence on traditional corporate culture wherever possible fits nicely with the punk philosophy.

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