Monday, March 26, 2007

Another Rant About Debt

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.


  1. I think I read that credit card companies call customers, who pay the balance of the card in full every month, deadbeats! Wow! I think that says it all!

  2. I think I read that, too. It doesn't paint a pretty picture, does it?

  3. Sort of a coincidence- I was just reading Leviticus this morning and The Lord set out some very clear rules for fair lending. In essence that people were not to take unfair advantage of people they loaned money too. I'm not that old, but its funny how true the old adage is "Nothing new under the sun." Thanks for the great blog.

  4. There's a lot of wisdom in the Bible that we tend to ignore or think it doesn't really apply to us, but other great minds have come to some of the same conclusions, which should give us warning.

    Usury, or charging interest, was seen as an unnatural accumulation of money, whereas labor and business transactions were natural.

    Interest is "birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money, because the off-spring resembles the parent. Wherefore of all modes of making money this is the most unnatural," according to Aristotle

    That should give us food for thought, if nothing else.

  5. There is one thing that makes my blood boil. Not sure what it's called, but it's when a credit card company can jack up your rates because you were late paying another bill (even a phone bill!) that has nothing whatsover to do with your credit cards. In other words, you can have a 100% on-time record with Loansharkcard, but you are two minutes late with a payment on Moneytrapcard and Loanshark can raise your rates! With tricks like that coming at your from all directions, how can anyone EVER get out of debt? One of my state's (NY) politicians, Marcellino, is trying to get a bill passed (not sure of the terminology) to put a stop to this. He's got my vote!

  6. I agree, it's not right to raise your interest if you've been on time about paying them. I can just see the sharks they hire, too, to keep an eye on everyone's credit reports so they can raise interest rates. Predatory may be the word you're looking for? I'd vote for something like that, too. I hope the idea takes hold.