Friday, April 20, 2007

Comment At TPM: Credit Is Like Cigarettes

Elizabeth Warren wrote an entry over at Warren Reports: Dept of Defense Leaves Families Exposed. In it, she discusses how high-interest, short-term lenders prey on military families and how the military brass ended up siding with the credit industry:

After the bill passed, the consumer finance industry shifted their lobbying efforts to the DoD. The lobbying paid off. The new DoD rules drafted by the DoD excludes credit cards, car loans, home equity loans, reverse mortgages, refinancing and tax refund anticipation loans. The banks declared themselves pleased. Congressional Daily quotes the Financial Services Roundtable rep as saying, "Overall, it seems that it tracks pretty close to our recommendation."

Commenter Mike Woodson left a comment that I thought was quite pertinent:

I'll preface the following with this comment: obviously, individuals have a duty to do all that they can to avoid bad financial decisions. That's a given. But credit is a bit like cigarettes -- the offered short term relief plus the high interest and the nicotine are analogous. Both disable the free will of the user (combined, they almost take it away -- see the working poor on break from their job shifts puffing away).

Credit card business is also parasitic. What work do credit card companies do except feed off someone else's hard earned money; whether they're lending from it or collecting it, the credit industry completely depends on the value-producing hard work of others to keep itself at the table eating 24 hours a day. When it loans out the blood it just sucked, it finds new hosts. Then it consumes away but produces very little.

The parasite transmits a disease called despair. Financial problems blow-up marriages, hurt kids of divorce, deny children, and sometimes weigh heavily in people's decisions to abort their unborn. There is a substantial and significant responsibility for these losses that lies with the credit industry. The cause doesn't have to be proximate; the wrongs can be inchoate; and the suffering doesn't have to be legally compensable for it to be 100% WRONG. It is a species of slavery, no matter how well dressed in lobbyists' clothes.

It is also a species of treason. If you do something to damage your country that slows productivity by draining money for a non-productive industry, then you are working against the interests of the country. Just because you employ lots of folks to help you do it doesn't make it a productive industry; that just makes it sort of cannibalistic.

If you're not personally affected, but reading this, consider taking some extra step for the people who are so afflicted, and start a small fire in your neighborhood against credit industry abuse.

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