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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Jan 16, 2012, 09:43 PM

3. How Did We Get So Indebted and What Can We Do About It?

http://www.alternet.org/story/153779/how_did_we_get_so_indebted_and_what_can_we_do_about_it_?page=entire

...even when we suffer the sometimes cruel and unusual detriments of borrowing, we have little to no realistic impetus to stop. But it wasn’t always this way. In fact before the 20thcentury, debt was a taboo, feared, shameful, and kept in the shadows. So what events and institutions brought debt from its meager beginnings to its central role in American life?

In his new book, “Borrow: The American Way of Debt,” Cornell professor Louis Hyman writes, in essence, a biography of American debt. He traces debt through American history: from the late 19th century, when unpaid dues meant public ignominy, to the 1920s, when the auto industry changed the face of borrowing to the mortgage fallouts that led the Great Depression to the invention of the credit card as we now know it, all the way to the current shambles of our national economic livelihood. Along the way we meet characters like the Henry Ford, the xenophobic inventor of the Model T whose scorn for the liberal age of borrowing got the best of him, and Lower East Side grocery clerk Joseph Miraglia, whose miraculous $10,000 spending spree in 1965 made history as one of America’s heftiest credit card blunders....

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