I've been hung up on the news lately... or certain types of news, anyway. This morning I came across a story of a couple in India who were deeply in debt, and harassed by lenders, hanged themselves.
Another, a report on a book called "Maxed Out," by James Scurlock, tells of others who have committed suicide, and mentions those who are "victims of easy credit."
Yet another states "Credit cards are forcing families to the brink of financial calamity."
I don't often get emotional about such things, except to rant a little now and then, but this breaks my heart. I found myself on the verge of tears.
We tend to look at credit card companies and other lending entities as faceless, nameless businesses that operate by a set of rules and don't really know how it affects the people it manipulates for a profit.
That attitude makes it easier to deal with them and to roll with the punches, but those businesses are set up by people. Their rules are made up by people, their profit is raked in by people. So why do we think people don't know what is happening? Is the love of money so compelling that these people will do anything to get it?
It seems so.
Sure, people who go into debt have a responsibility. I wouldn't call anyone a victim who went into debt willingly, but lenders who deliberately set out to trap people into going deeper and deeper into debt, and those who make a living harassing the same people into deep anxiety about paying that debt, are selfish and cruel.
It makes me angry to see how people are taken advantage of and how little human concern is shown. Other times, it makes me want to cry. Lost love, guilt over something one has done, despair over relational situations... while those are not acceptable for suicide or deep depression, one can make allowances. But indebtedness?
There will be those who put the blame solidly on the shoulders of the borrowers, but you just can't clear the lenders of guilt. No one who gives an inexperienced teenager a credit card or offers financing for a house to a couple who can't pay for it or writes come-ons to entice anyone and everyone to buy on credit, can be innocent.