Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Stealin' from a Thief

Mayberry wrote a good post the other day. I have been thinking about the credit card idea ever since. He is right about the idea of credit cards as evil. But it is an odd evil, not so much evil in its own stance, but rather something that allows the worst of men to come to the fore.

Credit is a dicey thing. The ancient prohibitions on usury cross any number of cultures, the Muslim and Christian cultures never thought highly of it. It is a subtle slavery, a backdoor means of keeping you on the straight and narrow and working towards the goals that the creditor sets.

But in our society, we have sufficient wealth and freedom that we have loosened the bonds between the lender and the borrower. The main reason that people keep up with their credit is the loss of face inherent in not keeping up with the Jones'.

Well, we are in a transition point in the society. Everyone is at or beyond the level of prudent use of credit. The financial sector has grown too fast and big and now holds the bag on a country of debtors who can't keep up. Currently the problem is in the housing sector. The next sector to fall will be the credit card sector. As times get worse, people will start walking away.

Right now, not keeping up your credit payments is anathema, but as things get worse, it will become common and accepted, and eventually it will be seen as what it is, just stealing from a thief.

The trouble is, when you steal from a thief, there is a good chance that the thief will try to get nasty. The big banks (and you all know my opinion of banks) will use their pet politicians to try and enact laws to keep you in thrall to your prior stupidity. My guess is that they will succeed in passing the laws, but fail in enforcing them.

So in nutshell, here is how I see it. The country went into too much debt. We can't pay it back. We will default. The lenders will try to bind us to them. They will fail. The country will be a lot poorer in material goods. The government will have to ratchet back on its promises. People will manage somehow.

So lets get on with it.


1 comment:

Shy Wolf said...

You should have been a fly on the wall- or in the phone- when I called all the credit card companies and told them I was cancelling my cards. Period. They could not understand how anyone could possibly live without them. The most underlying theme was "Why are you cancelling all your cards?" The employees just don't get it any more than their employers.