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Tue Jan 29, 2013, 05:09 PM

The Politics of Debt in America: From Debtor’s Prison to Debtor Nation


from TomDispatch:



The Politics of Debt in America
From Debtor’s Prison to Debtor Nation

By Steve Fraser

(This essay will appear in the next issue of Jacobin. It is posted at TomDispatch.com with the kind permission of that magazine.)


Shakespeare’s Polonius offered this classic advice to his son: “neither a borrower nor a lender be.” Many of our nation’s Founding Fathers emphatically saw it otherwise. They often lived by the maxim: always a borrower, never a lender be. As tobacco and rice planters, slave traders, and merchants, as well as land and currency speculators, they depended upon long lines of credit to finance their livelihoods and splendid ways of life. So, too, in those days, did shopkeepers, tradesmen, artisans, and farmers, as well as casual laborers and sailors. Without debt, the seedlings of a commercial economy could never have grown to maturity.

Ben Franklin, however, was wary on the subject. “Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt” was his warning, and even now his cautionary words carry great moral weight. We worry about debt, yet we can’t live without it.

Debt remains, as it long has been, the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of capitalism. For a small minority, it’s a blessing; for others a curse. For some the moral burden of carrying debt is a heavy one, and no one lets them forget it. For privileged others, debt bears no moral baggage at all, presents itself as an opportunity to prosper, and if things go wrong can be dumped without a qualm.

Those who view debt with a smiley face as the royal road to wealth accumulation and tend to be forgiven if their default is large enough almost invariably come from the top rungs of the economic hierarchy. Then there are the rest of us, who get scolded for our impecunious ways, foreclosed upon and dispossessed, leaving behind scars that never fade away and wounds that disable our futures. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175643/tomgram%3A_steve_fraser%2C_another_day_older_and_deeper_in_debt/



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Reply The Politics of Debt in America: From Debtor’s Prison to Debtor Nation (Original post)
marmar Jan 2013 OP
reteachinwi Jan 2013 #1
ROBROX Jan 2013 #2

Response to marmar (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 06:34 PM

1. “I am worried about our tendency to over invest in things and under invest in people.” JK Galbraith

 

"Debt is driving this system of auto-cannibalism which, by every measure of social wellbeing, is relentlessly turning a developed country into an underdeveloped one."

Thank you Marmar. This is a very good read.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 03:43 PM

2. TIME TO RESET WORLD DEBT

 

Cancel all debts worldwide. Then we can start over with a clean slate of NO debt. This would provide ALL countries the financial ability to start over. The only people hurt by this move would be the RICH.

Cancel all public an private debts. Let everyone start over without debts which can harm public and private relationships...

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