OPINION | MIKE MASTERSON: Spend and earn


I learned years ago from my financially astute younger brother a wise way to live in today's world was to use a credit card that paid you each time you used it, as long as you resolved the balance each month.

Until then, I'd been using a debit card for purchases to have a record of my expenses. But his logic made sense. "Why not use a card that documents your expenditures while paying benefits?" he asked. "You're spending the same amount of money either way. Just have the discipline to pay the balance off monthly and get 1 to 3 percent of those purchases back. I get hundreds back each year."

I embraced the idea and last year I, too, got hundreds returned from using my paid-up credit cards while boosting my credit score. It was discouraging to learn I'm in the minority when it comes to erasing my balance each month.

Delinquency rates on both credit cards and auto loans spiked to their highest since the Great Recession, according to a New York Fed report last week.

"Credit card and auto loan transitions into delinquency are still rising above pre-pandemic levels," an economic research adviser at the New York Fed told the media. "This signals increased financial stress, especially among younger and lower-income households."

In other discouraging financial revelations, the House Budget Committee reports that since Jan. 20, 2021, the gross federal debt has increased by $6.4 trillion."To put that in perspective," the committee said, "the federal government has accumulated more debt in the last three years than in the first 214 years of the U.S. federal government."

I find that beyond obscene and irresponsible. How about you?

The latest Congressional Budget Office baseline projected that gross federal debt would increase by $18.2 trillion in the coming decade, reaching $52.4 trillion by 2033. CBO projects the gross federal debt will more than quadruple over the next three decades, increasing by almost $120 trillion.

Tough luck, children, grandchildren and beyond. History will show politicians today couldn't be rational adults and control their self-interests when there were votes to be bought. Enjoy your lives!

Pits kill father

Sadly enough, it's happened again, valued readers, as it has--and will continue--under current circumstances as long as criminally negligent owners of pit bull and pit mixes leave them unrestrained to maul and kill innocent people across our country. And, as promised, I will continue to inform you when I learn of such tragedies.

This time, the victim was a well-liked 35-year-old Detroit father of six named Harold Phillips, who had departed a bus and was walking home on Jan. 29 when he was set upon by three pit mixes.

"The dogs bit a pretty big hole out of his arm and tore his artery, so he lost a lot of blood. He is on dialysis. He has to keep getting transfusions. They cut off his right arm," his wife, Shauntaye Phillips, told CBS News afterwards.

Phillips' family announced he died from his injuries after four days on life support.

"It's with my deepest regret to inform you that Harold has passed away this evening. I appreciate every prayer donation and message. Thank you all for the love and care you've shown my husband," his wife wrote.

What I found interesting and unacceptable was that none of the TV or print accounts I saw named the breed involved. They only reported he was attacked and killed by three dogs. Why basically cover up for America's most dangerous breed as if it were a politician favored and coddled by the partisan mainstream media? Did editors and news directors decide this wouldn't look good for pit bulls to document yet another of their killings due to owners who failed to restrain them?

I had to hunt outside routine news stories to learn the breed's identity through an item from DogsBite.org that said Detroit's Department of Animal Care and Control reported the dogs were pit mixes. That means this relevant information was there for reporters but not included, either by intent or incompetence.

What makes this worse is these animals had a history of biting, including a child, according to their owner, and still they'd gotten free from an inadequately fenced yard to take Phillips' life.

Detroit officials said the incident could have been prevented had owners followed the city's ordinance that dogs have to be secured and limited the number of dogs per residence to two. The owner of the animals that attacked Phillips kept four. The three involved in the attack were euthanized. The fourth was seized. The owner has been fined $5,000.

"To the Phillips family, I'm so sorry," the owner said. "Nothing I can do can make this right, but if there's anything I can do, I will." The family planned to sue the city and the dogs' owner.

It would have been much better for everyone involved had he made certain his savage dogs couldn't get loose to maul and kill.


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at [email protected].


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