The question of whether you should pay off your mortgage is a complex one and everyone has an opinion. Some radio talk show hosts say all debts should be eliminated as fast as possible, including your mortgage. Debt presumes on the future they say. Your ability to pay might be impacted by health, job, or other unforeseen factors.

The barricades are down, the parks, monuments, and museums are open, the pandas are back on TV, licenses, passports, and IRS letters are being issued, and government workers can resume work and consuming. Headlines focus on the futility of the effort and disarray within the Republican Party, with some suggesting 'civil war.' Traditional backers from main street to Wall Street are furious with both the Tea Party and the leaders who allowed the derailment. And Democrats are doing their best not to gloat.

These are difficult times for Americans as we watch in disbelief our government's continued dysfunctionality in the face of impending crisis. The rising shrill of the media and political jabs only make matters worse. We wanted to share some facts we hope will assuage fears and put the current situation in a more realistic context.

Welcome to the Beacon Weekend Reader: Our weekly compilation of interesting articles and videos designed to keep you informed and engaged in the areas of economics, personal finance and life. We hope you enjoy this week's edition. Please send us your thoughts on this week's articles and suggestions for future posts.  Have a great weekend.