Tired of Rejection, Consumers Turn to Credit Companies For Approval

24 07 2008


Photo courtesy of Todd Heisler/The New York Times

A strange thing is happening here in America. People are beginning to use credit-worthiness as a measure of self-esteem. It reminds me of a saying I just made up; Someone is always willing to give you what you want, as long as you pay for it. (Wow, I like that!)

Growing weary of being rejected for choice jobs and being denied by choice colleges, Americans young and old are trying to buy their dreams on credit. What they dont realize is that sometimes they end up paying with their life. Now hold on a minute I’m not saying they’re being killed by credit directly, you should know me better than that. But what I am saying is that the stress and pressure of living the “good life” without a “good income” is taking more of a toll on us than we are openly willing to admit.

The New York Times is doing a brilliant series on consumer debt called The Debt Trap and it’s as hard hitting and exhaustive in exposing the consumer debt crisis as CNN’s Black in America series is in addressing the state of African-Americans in the US. I highly recommend checking them both out!

I keep asking the question “How did we get here?” And no one seems to have the answer. So I guess I’m taking it upon myself to find and provide the answer for all of you.

The more I see stories like the current one on NYT about Diane McLeod, the more I’m aware of the burden I’ve been given regarding the debt-free message.

Diane started out debt-free just like the rest of us, but the article goes on to explain how marriage, divorce, illness, unemployment, underemployment, wildly irresponsible spending, and now foreclosure have driven her nearly $250k into debt! Strangely enough though, she still continues to get “Pre-approved” offers from a steady stream of credit card companies, even though her credit is now decimated and she cant afford to pay her existing debts!

Here is a excerpt from the article:

“Recently an envelope arrived offering a “pre-qualified” Salute Visa Gold card issued by Urban Bank Trust. “We think you deserve more credit!” it said in bold type. A spokeswoman at Urban Bank said the Salute Visa is part of a program “designed to provide access to credit for folks who would not otherwise qualify for credit.” The Salute Visa offered Ms. McLeod a $300 credit line. But a closer look at the fine print showed that $150 of that would go, as annual fees, to Urban Bank.”

Hmmm, quick question: If you cannot ‘otherwise qualify’ for credit, why are you still being provided with access to it?!? Greed is to blame for most of this mess. Both the greed of consumers to have what they want, when they want it, and live beyond their means as a way of “survival”. And the greed of companies to sell you things you cannot afford so that you have to pawn your birthright, your values and your spiritual inheritance to purchase them.

Again, how did we get here?! What happened to our values?

I’m getting into the daily habit of reading a chapter of Proverbs. I read the chapter that matches the date. Yesterday was the 23rd and while reading I read this:

“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show constraint.”
Proverbs 23:4 (NIV)

I love what this text is saying without saying it. My personal translation would say, “If you show constraint and build your wealth the right way, you will be healthy enough to enjoy what you have earned.” No borrowing on credit, no loans, no get rich quick schemes.

Showing constraint in your finances is called a wise thing in this verse…

Aha, that’s the answer to my question! I now know how we got here! We’re not reading our bibles, duh!

Thanks for reading,

@W

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