An article on Talking Points Memo by blogger Saladin reflects similar thinking to mine. There is a comment posted by one commenter named peoplechoose that discusses the intentionality of this rise in debt.
I agree with the writer that this entire debt mess is intentional. I think it serves several purposes.
First of all, the vast accumulation of debt in this country has, in fact, already caused the demise of the middle class. Most people who call themselves "middle class" don't actually own much at all. Who do you know that actually owns their house and their car? In Michael Moore's recent Capitalism, A Love Story movie, he recounts how his father, working for AC Delco in Flint, MI, owned is house outright by the time Moore was four, and bought a new car every three years. What person in our time, working on stagnant wages that haven't gone up in more than a decade, can do that?
The student loan factor that Saladin discusses here is a key to this slide into servitude. By training young people that huge amounts of debt is the norm, the stage is set for successive moves on the debt game board. Once a young person is convinced that six figure debt is inevitable, even larger amounts of debt seem normal.
Secondly, I argue that this effort to normalize debt is intentional. The intention of this effort is manifold, but should be obvious. If we ask, who benefits from this huge mountain of debt, the answer is simple: for profit, publicly held corporations. This accumulation of debt serves their need for ever-rising stock prices. Additionally, if the middle class in this country collapses, then at some point in the future, corporations can re-sell us all this cool stuff again. First convince the Chinese they want to be like the US. We buy all their cool, cheap stuff and go into untold amounts of debt doing so. Our economy collapses under the weight while China prospers. Once we fall, these same corporations can flip the whole mess around....
Finally, this effort is profoundly undemocratic. As Kevin Phillips argued in his book, Wealth and Democracy, the tension between accumulation of vast amounts of wealth and the democratic impulse dates back before the founding of this Republic. The few who have accumulated these vast amounts of money have no real interest in democracy. An indentured body of citizens serves them well.
Please read this series of articles:
The Structures That Divide Us
The Mess of 2009, Part 1
The Mess of 2009, Part 2
The Mess of 2009, Part 3
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