I am perplexed. I read this article in the NYTimes, Given a Shovel, Americans Dig Deeper Into Debt and am not sure if the author wants me to feel sorry for the woman or what. Here are a couple of quotes:
“But with so many borrowers in trouble, some bankruptcy experts and regulators are beginning to focus on the responsibilities of lenders, like requiring them to make loans only if they are suitable to the borrowers applying for them.”
You can practically here the chorus of cheers from victimized debt-holders in the background “I did not know!” “I was robbed!” “They told me I could afford it!”
Are you kidding me? And this:
“Henry E. Hildebrand III, a Bankruptcy Court trustee in Nashville since 1982 and one of the nation’s busiest, has seen at first hand what happens when lenders do not take some responsibility for loans that go bad. “I look across the table at people who are right out of school and have more debt than they can handle, and they are starting out life in a bankruptcy,” he said.”
So, they can earn a college degree but they cannot do the math to understand that what they are spending is more than they are earning?
This is what irks me about our country. This way of thinking is VERY dangerous. We are always looking to someone else to blame. Thankfully, the article ends with a recognition on the part of the protagonist, that she made a lot of mistakes, but it goes on to discuss how the lenders keep sending her offers. OK, so I agree that the lenders might be somewhat at fault here, but who makes her or anyone open the offers and say yes? Nobody. Not a soul. She did it on her own, but on some level, we are supposed to feel that she was victimized. I said this before in reference to a 60 Minutes story and I will say it again, if we, as consumers, cannot be trusted to say no to offers that don’t makes sense, we are missing the underlying problem. What we need is to instill a sense of responsibility through education about personal financial management. At one point, the article practically blames McCann Erikson for coming up with Mastercard’s “Priceless” campaign. This is the source of our current economic problems? If that is true, we are a nation of fools.