Sinking in Debt?

In the second of a three-part series on debt
in the U.S. the Associated Press’ Eileen Alt Powell offers an overview of the
growing problem of individual and governmental indebtedness.

With the
savings rate
hovering near
all-time
lows, most
consumers
don’t have
reserves, and
so they’re
vulnerable to
an economic
shock.
–The Associated
Press

In the second of a three-part series on debt in the U.S., the Associated Press’ Eileen Alt Powell offers an overview of the growing problem of individual and governmental indebtedness.

Overextended budgets create destructive dynamics for individuals and families. While this is a concern for individual responsibility, it should also be a concern in a larger context as well. I’ve pointed to the argument advance by Michael Bugeja about the targeting of messages that undermine our self-esteem and promise fulfillment that material goods cannot provide. Easy access to credit, the targeting of those inexperienced in using credit (as teens and college students) and the marketing of high interest credit to those with troubled financial histories adds to the problem.

Powell’s article covers the range of opinion about the debt burden. It’s not merely an alarmist presentation, but there is enough in it to cause a sober-minded person to be alarmed. Peter Moricci, a business professor at the University of Maryland, says it wouldn’t take much to topple some overextended budgets over the edge, a mere 2 percentage point increase in mortgage interest payments could do it. “Some people will lose their homes,” Morici says. “Many people will just be hurting.” (Debt Load Makes Americans Vulnerable,
By Eileen Alt Powell, ?The Associated Press, ?Monday, August 29, 2005
)

This is the crux of the matter for me. The consumer culture is grinding up some folks and leaving them hurting. That’s a matter for the church, not merely to treat the hurt left in the wake (which we must do), but also attempting to address the spiritual crisis that feeds the insecurity and yearning for fulfillment. And, let’s not forget, to address public policy issues that make for a just society, protecting those most vulnerable from exploitation.

One Response to “Sinking in Debt?”

  1. Elyza September 28, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Unparalleled accuracy, uneuqiovcal clarity, and undeniable importance!

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