Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Priceless Debt

It is always interesting to come across some archival television footage where children were jumping around in the back seat while their father drove down the high way. There were ads for Winston cigarettes on the Flintstones and folks riding motorcycles without helmets.

It appears that public health and safety now commands what is acceptable to be shown on broadcast television. Ads for products that contain alcohol are quasi acceptable again, but strongly regulated.

So the government is looking out for out health and safety on the surface. What about our overall well being? The point I’m trying to press here is, why are ads for credit cards allowed on TV? They give the impression that debt doesn’t matter because the things you will go into debt for are “priceless.” And not only that, but you can switch from cash back to points anytime you want. They make it all appear that every transaction with a credit card grants you unimaginable benefits not only to your pocket but to your precious time and soul as well.

Presently the average savings of the average American is 0. Consumer debt has taken away all savings and people are perpetuating their existence on credit. Eventually this massive debt will crush our country. People in this country have little chance of paying off their debt before they die.

The United States is in debt to China for hundreds of billions of dollars. What happens when this debt is called in? What would happen to you if all your debt were called in? What will happen to you if you miss a payment and you suddenly find your interest payment quadrupled?

Lobbyists from banks and credit institutions paid for legislation that is now favorable to their business interests. They changed the rules on interest and on how consumers can go bankrupt. The cards are stacked against consumers to the point that they will never be able to recover. This massive debt may cause the next depression and this depression will change the United States as we know it.

Every time you whip out that Visa Card and not pay off the total balance at the end of the month you are adding another nail to the coffin of your personal and the national economy. How long can this go on before it all crashes?


Anonymous gearhead said...

Debt is a malady, similar to a cronic illness.
Debt hangs over and degrades every aspect of ones life, wheather or not they are aware of its effect.
It has been a number of years since we have owed a single penny on credit.
Sometimes friends will ask, "What does it feel like to be debt free?"
Answer: There is no such feeling for me.
There is however, a LACK OF FEELING. A lack of the feeling of fear, pressure, and helplessness.
Maybe that is why most people don't get out of debt; there is no instant thrill and gratification involved.
By the way: "The Jones's" are irrelevent to my life.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Amaya said...

The average American has current savings of $0 AND an average of $8000 on credit. I think it's important to note that.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I have never paid interest on a credit card (okay, maybe once or twice when the bill was paid a few days late.) My parents taught me this. I have in turn taught my children that a credit card is a privilege and for convenience's sake only - not a "free ride." You must have the money to pay for the item you want. I've seen far too many people sink into debt by abusing credit cards. So sad.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Trop said...

I'm learning that lesson the hard way (divorce and short sell on a house). But where I have a slight advantage is retirement savings, which I have been vigilant about since my mid-20s. I'll be debt free in two years.

We have a whole generation that will approach old age with deep debt and zero retirement savings.

You know it's bad when the "sacrifice" Bush asked of everyone after 9/11 was "go shopping."

10:33 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Gearhead, you are the Jonses. I'm trying to keep up to you ; )

Amaya, Dang I did forget that part. Thanks for bringing it up. That's no chump change.

Beth, I'm proud of you, Darlin!

Trop, so true, and to make the problem worse was they went out and bought crap from China. We are now doubel rat screwed.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous walter richards said...

How much of our national debt is in the form of treasury/savings bonds? And is that what China is buying?

Look at the bright side ... if America's economy fails, we take the rest of the world with us. So a certain group of people will finally get the "level playing field" they want.

Though, if a global depression does happen ... which is what the Great Depression was ... I don't know if America still has enough of the individual entrepreneur spirits to pull us out. We damned sure don't have the homefront manufacturing capabilities we did in the 1940's.

1:14 PM  
Blogger OC Mama said...

We had a discussion on debt at my kids playgroup the other day. 3 of the mom's had at least $40,000 in debt. We didn't count houses or cars, so that's all credit cards. What the heck is wrong with people?

Dh and I are pretty lucky, other than one car payment we are debt free. But we work hard to stay that way too.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

Excellent post, Guy. I never thought about this angle, the advertising.

Very thought provoking. (I know, scary)

8:53 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

My sister's OC friends are getting a divorce. The woman will take the two kids and move from an estate to a condo. Apparently, it was all smoke and mirrors--all built on a carefully balanced paper pyramid of debt.

We were burned bad in the 90s. We will not make such mistakes again. We have a debit card for navigating online payments and such. Credit card companies are loan sharks, plain and simple.

And those payday loan places? Some have over 100% interest. I kid you not.

We pay off my van in 2 years and change. Then it's just the house. We'll see what we can do to shorten that.

As for China, they call it in, we probably just won't pay. Their consumer goods are poisoning us anyhow, so I don't know why we keep buying it anyhow.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Mike S said...

MO3, although not burned by credit cards, I nevertheless cut them up years ago and use a debit card like you say. One thing to be very careful of, it's much easier to tap into your bank account with a debit card. I found that out the hard way. Luckily we didn't lose any money as they caught the creeps prior to them disappearing completely. We were very lucky, as most they stole from lost a great deal of money. From that lesson we opened a new account and only transfer enough funds into it to cover internet/phone transactions. The other "real" account is only used for "in person" purchases and travel. No matter what they claim about using credit cards to travel, an ATM card and traveller's checks are still the best way to go. Credit card foreign purchases are often held by merchants/banks to get the best exchange rates for increasing their profits, so what you pay €100 for may really cost as much as 15% more than you plan. ATM use is pegged at the previous day's official exchange rate, so a variation of 1%-3% is normal and usually the only difference, although some smaller banks charge a 1-2% exchange fee.

2:45 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Walt, I wonder if there will be Chinese toll booths on our roads.

OC, 40k+? They are doomed.

Syd, even more shocking, your reply didn't have any salty language... Love ya, Darlin!

Mo3, Pay Day Loand are upward to 350%.

Mike, you've got the right plan.

7:47 AM  
Anonymous walter richards said...

Walt, I wonder if there will be Chinese toll booths on our roads.

If they try ... we'll just "nationalize" the roads. Like most countries did the oil wells once owned by American firms. Or Mexico did with all property owned by foreigners.

9:23 AM  

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