I’m watching a documentary on our insatiable appitite for debt on Global TV called Debt Trap.
The program profiles many normal people who are drowning in credit card debt. The first such person is Jennifer (who is CUTE, BTW) and she’s struggling to pay off her $10,000 credit card balance. The producers try to make us feel sorry for her since she used the money to buy so called necessities like a bed, dresser and storage when she moved out of her parents’ house. Jennifer feels overwhelmed with the debt and can make the minimum payments but not much else.
We then meet Sanjay, an immigrant from Thailand. Sanjay has 3 credit cards he’s maxed out as well as a mortgage he shares with his parents for around $300,000. Sanjay feels that it’s the banks’ fault he’s in debt and blames them for issuing the credit in the first place. He feels without debt he wouldn’t be able to “fit in” and have the same sorts of things everyone else has.
The next segment is on mortgages and real estate. A young couple is profiled and they begin with a story about buying their current house. Naturally, it was a bidding war and they ended up paying $550,000 for the place. Add in their student loans and car payment and they can barely afford everything. The couple has cut back on haircuts and going out for dinner to make ends meet. And just as I’m about to drown out this couple’s complaining, they reveal they’re going to sell the house and use the proceeds to pay off all their other debts. What a revelation!
Next the program talks about the stagnation of income while living costs keep going up. The next person profiled is Rich, a former investment advisor who topped out at $150,000 in consumer debt while driving a next to a new Mustang. His son, Josh, is a recent grad still living at home, who has student loans coming out of his ying yang. Rich is complaining how expenses have gone up so much while salaries aren’t. Naturally, none of his debt problems are his own fault.
Okay, it’s now halfway through the program and I can’t take it anymore. Debt Trap assigns absolutely zero personal responsibility for the borrowers who took on debt in the first place. The lender is the one and only villain on this show. How much responsibility should the borrower take on to use credit properly? According to this program, absolutely none. I have a problem with that.
I get that debt is a problem in North America. There is no doubt that we are in debt up to our eyeballs. And while I feel sorry for people who are drowning under a massive debt load, nobody forced them to borrow money. If somebody wants to learn how to use debt right, there are countless resources just a mouse click away.
The program says we’re forced into a “never-ending debt trap.” Quite frankly, that’s crap. Where are the stories of the people who have used debt responsibly? Where are the stories of the people who avoided debt completely? Where are the stories of the people who are smart, who have willpower? Not everyone uses debt like a fool.
Debt is only as bad as the borrower makes it out to me. Expecting a bank to force you to borrow responsibly is wishful thinking at best. The only positive of this program is that maybe it makes someone avoid debt in the first place. If someone is already in debt, they’ll fit right in at this pity party.
I’m not even going to link to this thing. If you want to watch it, you’ll have to find it yourself.