Elena

My half sister is getting married. Yay! I have found the whole process fascinating to watch. Not just on a family level, but on a human one as well.

If you were to propose to you girlfriend/boyfriend would you know what the traditional engagement etiquette is?

Her fiancee did. And he made it a very public display and chose to include both family. Risky, but it paid off for him.

But for an engagement there are a couple of things that I wanted to point out. The engagement ring is typically given by the man to the woman when the proposal is done. Often, this ring is a diamond ring.

Typically, the woman will want to be surprised on some level prior to the proposal, however most couples will already know they are essentially engaged (i.e intend to marry each other) prior to the actual proposal itself.

I know some women who would want to know every single last detail of the rings and proposals and some who would prefer to stay completely in the dark. I suggest it would be a good idea to have an idea of what your lady wants before making any solid plans either way.

Typical engagement lengths can be anywhere from 6 mos to 2 years. Anything longer than that, people will start saying it's a long engagement.

The wedding bands are usually chosen by the couple together, at some point before their wedding. These are the ones that are exchanged during the vows.

In most cases, she will wear the engagement ring for the rest of her life, so you want to really get an idea of her style before you buy it. That, or buy a temp and then exchange it for a real one that you both pick out later (many places will do so for no charge).

The Engagement Party

An engagement party is not the same thing as getting engaged. You will hold this later. This can be a group celebration or only include the parents of the bride and groom.

An engagement party is not the same thing as a wedding shower which also includes both the bride and groom.

Many people frown on a wedding shower, thinking that a couple shower is avoiding traditional values.

Remember that every tradition and practice surrounding engagements and weddings is totally socially constructed, and you can do whatever you and her want.

What I'm saying is, maybe you should discuss the process with her first and see what she wants.

For instance, I didn't want an engagement ring, and I would have felt really weird if my husband had proposed to me with one.

I also have friends who wanted very specific types of engagement rings (like a family heirloom ring) and would probably have been bummed if they didn't get to use it.

And please do not buy into that stupid rule about need to spend a large portion of your salary on a ring. If you want, ask her parents for their blessing. It's not mandatory but a sweet gesture.

Elena

Our government seems to be in a perpetual state of being in debt, and it isn't like to change.

But why?

Most likely no, it will never come to pass that either the US government will ever be debt free. There is no real incentive for them to eliminate all debt, and there is significant demand for government debt.

It's easiest to think of it like a business (governments are not businesses ), the mechanics of it are similar.

I'm going to focus on the US but most government debt is in the form of government treasury bonds. These bonds are bought by citizens and companies as a form of investments because they are a very safe investment. The first step in eliminating a nations debt would be to stop issuing new debt. This means no more bonds to invest in.

The next step would be to look at what the borrowed money is used for. The answer is pretty much anything. Highways, dams, military equipment, payroll, etc... In order to eliminate our debt, we would have to at least balance total government income with total government spending. This makes large scale spending projects much more challenging.

All this assumes that the government doesn't just "print" its way out of debt. This strategy would lead to high inflation rates, which could hurt everyone. They exist to improve the public well being.

If they were turning a profit, they would be taking more money than necessary, and not providing people with any benefit from that excess.

Ideally, a government would break even. This is a hard target to hit. The next best thing is to have a deficit. There can be some disadvantages if later generations end up with a larger burden of that debt.

However, generally later generations benefit from having better schools, healthcare, and transportation options as a result of government spending.

The only time debt is bad for a government is when it can't be paid. This gives the government a lower credit rating, which means higher interest rates. That bridge that the government wants to build now costs a couple extra million in interest.

But the bridge is no better because of that interest.

The only difference is that the people who loaned the money are taking a larger risk, so will get more money back in return provided the government continues to pay its debt.