Of credit card debt

From 2000 to 2006, the average card debt carried by Americans grew from $7,842 to $9,659, according to CardTrack.com. That totals $850 billion in credit card debt for 88 million Americans...

Wow, I'm astonished. Americans actually are living on credit (on average). Also noted is that during the subprime boom, borrowers shifted their debt from card to home equity. Post-meltdown, that's not really an option anymore.

I don't know the individual circumstances of every single borrower, but it seems to me that a feasible option would be to, I don't know, NOT GO INTO DEBT. That's overly glib, of course, but there are plenty of borrowers enslaving themselves to MBNA so that they can have fancy, needless electronic gadgets, brand new clothes every season, and SUVs with the gas mileage of a Model T. Lest we forget, the mortgage for the McMansion still has to be paid; why not put this month on the card?

I need to be more cynical and invest in American greed. What's to lose by buying shares of publicly-traded usurers? Debt is always recouped, somehow, someway. Credit card companies aren't liable for fraudulent charges, the merchants are. With new anti-bankruptcy laws on the books since 2005, my investment can repossess assets and recover unpaid debt. That's all thanks to a Congress bought and paid for by MBNA and CitiGroup. Democrats aided the raiding of our private finances, too, and Joe Biden earned himself the ignoble designation of D-MBNA for his efforts.

Why shouldn't the credit card companies inundate every mailbox in America with reams of dead trees? They have no disincentive not to. And for the occasional person who decides that yes, in fact, they need another plasma screen TV (a bigger one this time), why not "pay" for it with that low introductory interest rate offer--you'll pay it off in time, no prob, before the rate balloons to 33%.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It's predatory lending practices, to be sure. But a part of me can't help but lord over the shortsightedness of my fellow Americans. No, you're not getting a big bonus or a raise. No, you don't need an iPhone. A bazillion brain-dead plastic toys for your children doesn't make them smarter, but you look dumber for wasting your money at BigBoxMart. That SUV really was a stupid investment, really, you shouldn't have laughed at your pinko friends when they suggested you buy something cheaper and had mileage not measured as gallons per mile.

My monthly credit card carryover is exactly $0.00. I can't pull down the average for everyone, but a little help would be nice.

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At 9/6/07, 10:50 AM, Blogger Les said...

There are stupid middle class people, certainly. But there are many many people who are just barely getting by. Payday loans charge 1000% interest or more. A lot of folks are a couple of paychecks away from doom. No social safety net.

I wonder how much of that personal debt comes from people who had emergencies. Or how many had to put heart surgery on their credit card? Or groceries?

With minimum wage so low and so many living in poverty, the personal debit thing is just a postponement of disaster.

At 9/6/07, 11:01 AM, Blogger Crinis said...

Les, I suspect that a lot of our debt is underwriting our failed healthcare system. That is a rant for another day. I thought up of one of those The Onion Infographics: What are we putting on our credit cards? open-heart surgery, toys tot doesn't want, crack, groceries/baby food/everything else.

At 9/21/07, 11:38 AM, Anonymous Wendy said...

You're right about the failed health care system. I'm 63, self-employed, and have no health insurance (I've worked all my life as a writer and editor). Yesterday, I put $585 on a credit card for new glasses; today my husband will put $1600 on the card for a new hearing aid. We're holding our breath(s) ... waiting for the 17 more months before Medicare will kick in. How depressing is that? I never thought I'd say, "Wow, I can't wait until I'm 65."
Private insurance -- our only option -- would cost us $12,000 a year. It wouldn't cover hearing aids and glasses or dental work. It would have a $2,500 deductible.
And we're healthy people. So we charge, pay the interest, and gamble that we won't get sick ... yet.


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