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Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Credit Trap

People have needs, and they aren't too picky about how they're fulfilled. Example: the Credit industry sprang forth in my twenties. There was a need, under Reagan, to appear to be wealthy. Money was the God of the day and you showed how much you had by your possessions. Designer labels (even designer shampoo, for godssakes), brand name everything, nouvelle cuisine, all 80s creations. Before the 80s nobody would wear other people's names on themselves.

Folks got credit en masse, at high interest rates, and began living way beyond their means. The poor and students were targeted by marketers to get Easy Credit. All you needed was a phone and bank account. This heretofore unknown option was, and is, too good to be true.

Not only does credit/borrowing dig a hole, it encourages the cycles of poverty and encourages instant gratification/irresponsibility . Impulse buying soared. POS Advertising and marketing and promotion grew to invasive proportions, creating demands for things nobody needed. Then "infomercials" replaced sitcoms in late- and overnight tv broadcasting.

It's nice to have the finer things. There were finer things to be had. And there are always Joneses to keep up with in your life. Gordon Gecco said "Greed is good". Credit could make you look like you had bucks, and in the 80s it was all about appearances. I know whole neighborhoods that compete over material displays, to this day. This behavior rubs off on the kids, who come to expect lavish kiddie parties and mountains of presents. The Dudley Dursley Syndrome.

But for whom is this set up a win-win situation? The rich, of course. Not only do they get the money they invest back in triplicate, one way or another; they begin to look as heroes just because they're rich and that's what we should be aspiring to be. This breeds the theory that if you're poor you're a lazy loser, or worse. Remember Bush #2's infamous quote that, "Not all poor people are murderers"? Thanks, Georgie. What insightful understanding of economic class he possesses! Right up there with the Sheriff of Nottingham. The rich hold control over us via the moneystrings they hold- they create the tune we dance to and set the prices we pay. No matter what, it's to their advantage. Ever hang out with the rich? The topic of the conversation is always their money and what they're doing with it. Rarely is that ever in humanitarian deeds.

Meanwhile... we get deeper in debt and a sort of pointlessness sets in; we'll never not be in debt so why not buy it all? And snap! We've sold our future financial freedom, our good names and any security for a wardrobe with other people's names all over it, a car we can't afford to run, a bunch of toys and gadgets we don't need or use and a pretense we should never have bought into.

Next time you see Tommy Hilfiger walking down the street, remember to give my regards, please.

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