Sunday, March 25, 2007

Thank You Robster!

Even though friends do not comment, as Mash once said, they do read your posts and think about it. Robster read my '100% contentment and simplicity'entry, and found an interesting article that teams up with the theme of materialims and having too much.

America is very wealthy country, but one has to wonder how much of our wealth is in fact a chimera, spun of a consumerist ideal and given the appearance of solidity by a flood of easy credit? How much poverty and real economic pain is covered up by an endless succession of pay-day loans and EZ-finance rip-offs that eventually just bury people under mountains of debt from which they have little chance of digging themselves out.

Today's bankruptcy rate is ten times what it was during the Great Depression, foreclosures are at a 37-year high and the United States has a negative savings rate, yet we're told every day that the economy is going gangbusters.

George W. Bush often points out that more Americans own their own homes today than ever before. He doesn't mention that they also have less equity in those homes than ever before. Every day brings news of the potential scope of the emerging "sub-prime" loan scandal -- what Robert Kuttner called "deregulation's latest gift" -- and new indicators that the housing market that's driven so much of the economy for the past five years is a bubble that's begun to burst right before our eyes.

Compounding our personal debt problems are our representatives, equally profligate spenders who are just as happy to run up enormous budget deficits and who reflexively guarantee and subsidize trillions of dollars of new loans to already strapped American businesses and consumers.

It's a pretty good time to ask ourselves just how we got here.

Writer and film director James Scurlock does just that in the documentary, and now book, Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders. The film is a sprawling look at the seamy underside of the American credit industry -- an industry whose practices have changed dramatically since deregulation, and not for the better -- and at those who end up caught in a trap of their own creation.

This is what I 'fight' with being married to an American. It seems that everyone, no, mostly everyone has bought into this 'debt trap'. Where are the days of spending what you have and 'only' spending more when buying a house or a car and that's it? It's much too easy for college students to get credit cars and this confirms what I have always noticed from the very beginning since I came to the US; a good credit rating means you're in debt, not being in debt, means not being considered worthwhile lending money too even though you're the lesser risk.
Good grief!

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Blogger Robster said...


You're welcome. I just happen to stumble on that article right after I read your post. I had no idea there was a YouTube trailer for the movie. I may have to check it out.


6:13 PM  

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