I hope that none of my regular readers are burdened with much debt, but I know that many people are. Sometimes shockingly so. And so I’d like to explain who’s really to blame for these situations, because they are more complex than they may at first appear.
The Obvious Blame
The most obvious target for blame is the person who signed for it. And while there’s certainly a good deal of truth to that, it’s not quite that simple.
So, yes, if you’re in debt, you did bring it upon yourself, and you could have done better. So, before I begin to excuse you, take that to heart. We’ve all made mistakes (Lord knows I have), and this one was yours. Don’t defend your error; learn from it. And don’t do it again.
The truth is that the people of the West (and of the US in particular) have been manipulated into debt. The forces arrayed against them are a virtual armada of undue influence. And so we’ll go through the largest of them one at a time.
Democracy: Democracy, carrying with it the policy of public debt, is a debt machine. It made the masses responsible for the debts of the rulers. Understand, please, that under monarchies, the monarch was responsible for their debts. Democracy took it away from them and tossed it onto our shoulders. And this trick was not lost upon the most observant people of that era. Here’s what Percy Shelley wrote about it as it began:
The rich, no longer able to rule by force, have invented this scheme that they may rule by fraud… The most despotic governments of antiquity were strangers to this invention, which is a compendious method of extorting from the people far more than praetorian guards and arbitrary tribunals… could ever wring.
This system has become centered on debt over the years and has spawned one debt-creation mechanism after another.
Central banking: Central banks, and the US Federal Reserve in particular, use debt as their primary tool. In fact, without debt, dollars wouldn’t exist. (If you think that’s overstated, please read Modern Money Mechanics or at least The Creature from Jekyll Island.) There’s much more to be said here, little of it complimentary toward the Fed, but this is an operation that would implode without the American citizenry taking massive debt upon themselves.
I’ll forgo a detailed explanation, but debt-centric banking affects more or less everything growing out of its central mechanism… and that means either forcing or encouraging ever-increasing debt.
Government schools: Nearly all of us have been compelled to attend schools run by the state. These institutions taught us to trust what is authorized and to distrust anything that is not authorized. As Ivan Illich wrote, “School is the advertising agency which makes you believe you need the society as it is.”
And debt is very much authorized by the system. It is not only expected, but the authorized system rewards debt-taking, as seen in tax deductions for mortgage interest.
Politicians: Politicians are to blame for the reasons above and doubly so in regard to student loans, the rules of which were written by politicians alone. And as you probably know, escaping these loans is all but impossible, thanks to those same politicians… and to the banking corporations that control them.
Major corporations: This one is a bit murkier but no less true. Consider this quote from Paul Mazur, a senior partner at Lehman Brothers (a primary investment house) back in 1927:
We must shift America, from a needs to a desires culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old had been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.
I think it’s pretty clear that this effort was successful. Americans buy far more than they need, compelled by endless assaults on reason via corporate advertising.
The Simple Explanation
I think it’s fair to say that the status quo of the West (and of the US in particular) is the root driver of debt and indebtedness. And so, I’ll make a very clear statement:
The status quo expects you to be a debt serf. And so long as you feel a need to fit in… are terrified of standing alone and apart… you’ll act against your personal interests and according to the desires of that status quo. You’ll end up living by their script, not your own.
And we should further understand that the status quo is shaped and maintained by the people and groups that feed off of debt.
There’s a reason so many great men and women separated from the status quo of their places and times before they did anything of importance. I encourage you to do likewise.
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