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Is This "Twin Peaks" Theory Legit? "We all have too much debt"

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leftchick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 09:43 AM
Original message
Is This "Twin Peaks" Theory Legit? "We all have too much debt"
I heard this on NPR yesterday and am a little skeptical and a little scared....


http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=33643&m...


The following dialogue is from an NPR piece this morning, Taxpayer Beware: Bank Bailout Will Hurt, from the Planet Money people.

Alex Blumberg: I talked to a guy who has something to say to people who want to pin this whole thing on banks. I talked to David Beim at Columbia Business School. He's in his office showing me a graph showing how much debt we the citizens of America are in -- how much we all owe on our mortgages and credit cards compared to the economy as a whole, the GDP. For most of American history it was below 50%. And then...

David Beim: From 2000 to 2008, it goes like almost a hockey stick. It goes dramatically upward like a rocket. It's 100% of GDP. That is to say, currently consumers owe $13 trillion when the GDP is $13 trillion. That 100% of GDP owed by individuals. That is a ton.

Alex Blumberg: I'm going to ask you a leading question because I'm looking at the graph right now. Tell me, professor, has there ever been a time in history when we've owed that much before?

David Beim: I'm glad you asked me that. And guess what! The earlier peak way off on the left part of the chart is 100% of GDP in 1929. This is a map of twin peaks. One in 1929. One in 2007.



Alex Blumberg: Does that chart scare you?

David Beim: Yes! That chart is the most striking piece of evidence I have that what is happening to us is something that goes way beyond toxic assets in banks. It's something that has little to do with the mechanics of mortgage securitization or ethics on Wall Street or anything else. It says the problem is us. The problem is not the banks, greedy though they may be, overpaid though they may be. The problem is us. We have overborrowed. We've been living very high on the hog. Our standard of living has been rising dramatically in the last 25 years and we have been borrowing much of the money needed to make that prosperity happen.

Alex Blumberg: In other words, the problem the banks are facing is the problem we as a society are facing. We all have too much debt. Getting rid of it is going to be painful.
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hisownpetard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 09:48 AM
Response to Original message
1. That chart looks like my last EKG.
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geckosfeet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 09:50 AM
Response to Original message
2. Yes - saw this yesterday. NPR had a story - see link.
Edited on Sun Mar-01-09 09:51 AM by geckosfeet
NPR story - Household debt vs gdp


Corporate and financial entities have convinced us that we need to be in debt to be happy and to live.

Now I have a mortgage that's about 2/3 paid off. That's all the debt I have besides credit card debt that is paid off monthly.

How are you supposed to buy a house without a mortgage?
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Yavin4 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 09:56 AM
Response to Original message
3. Loose Fed Monetary Policy Was Instituted In The Early Part of This Decade
to make it look like the Bush tax cuts were working.
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geckosfeet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 09:58 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. You mean - they lied?
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OwnedByFerrets Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:00 AM
Response to Original message
5. Thom Hartmann has been discussing this for months.
Its very very scary, but still some people, even here, wont believe what dire straits this country is in.
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leftchick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:08 AM
Response to Reply #5
8. I am scared
but what I am wondering is how this will affect my family. The only debt we have is our mortgage which is a 30 year fixed. But it seems as though this debt crisis will be shared by everyone.
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OwnedByFerrets Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:54 AM
Response to Reply #8
25. You are very very fortunate that is the only debt you have.
You are in the minority, I'm afraid.
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Raven Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:02 AM
Response to Original message
6. Yes we do and that's why the Republicans are so angry and scared.
When people are saddled with unmanageable debt, they become scared...Repubs like fear.

When people have to work two jobs to keep up with that debt, they don't pay attention...Repubs don't like participatory democracy.

George W. Bush urged us to spend, spend, spend. We did and we don't need most of the stuff we buy.

We are certainly not at fault for the mess we're in but we are less able to cope with it because so many of us are on thin ice.

I think the Party of Rush is running scared because they know that if and when the American people get back on their feet they are going to run them out of town. It is in their interest to keep us down, scared and preoccupied.

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Hello_Kitty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:04 AM
Response to Original message
7. Our wages weren't rising! WTF were we supposed to do?
Yeah, we could have lived more simply. Smaller houses, not bought new cars, no Plasma TVs, vacations, etc. Except...oh wait...consumer spending is 2/3 of our economy!
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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:16 AM
Response to Reply #7
9. Blame people at the bottom
This just pisses me the hell off.

And if you took no credit, you were sneered at for the last ten years as a looser bottom feeder. Now, the same people who lived on massive amounts of credit in the largest homes, are turning around and blaming the poorest who don't own a home or have a credit card to begin with.

And it was all concocted by the banks and the Fed in the first place. This was their manufactured economy.

I may be broke, but I'm sure as hell not stupid.
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Warren Stupidity Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:17 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. me too - exactly what leapt out at me from this article.
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TorchTheWitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:48 AM
Response to Reply #9
22. DING DING DING!!! Exactly!
The banks are absolutely to blame. Sure people were spending beyond their means, but it was the banks handing out all that credit willy nilly that did it. It used to be hard as hell to get a credit card at all much less an extraordinary line of credit. Getting your first credit card was something to be proud of because it was so difficult. I was in my 20's before I finally made enough money a year to finally get a credit card and I had an extraordinary line of credit of a wopping $250 (yes, that's two hundred and fifty dollars). Then suddenly the banks were handing them out to 18 year old students with ZERO income and given thousands of dollars of a credit line to boot.

As prices went up while wages didn't and healthcare went into the toilet people had to use credit cards as their only option to be able to pay these extraordinary bills... to pay the mortgage on time, to purchase those necessary yet too expensive medications, to be able to buy that weeks groceries, to get a new washing machine when the old one finally blew up, etc., etc., etc. And yet when the people who were already swimming in debt, the banks just gave them MORE credit! The deeper debt one was in the more likely they would be given more credit way beyond their income to be able to pay. And of course people used it because they had already gotten to the point where they had no other option.

The banks set this up with the help of the Fed and the Repukes and knew exactly where it was headed, which was the whole reason behind the new bankruptcy laws... to protect themselves when the shit finally hit the fan as they KNEW it would. It was absolutely a manufactured economy and anyone with eyes could see where it was headed.

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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:53 AM
Response to Reply #22
23. Parents have complained about student credit cards
for a long, long time. People tried to get them to stop doing this and they just would not listen. They shoved this on us, refused to raise wages, and now they want to blame us for falling into their trap. The ones who accept the blame are the ones who drive me craziest.
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PSPS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 11:07 AM
Response to Reply #22
31. Yeah, sure. "The bank made me do it."
Sure people were spending beyond their means, but it was the banks handing out all that credit willy nilly that did it.

Talk about a non sequitur! Nobody was forcing someone to spend beyond their means. Banks weren't "handing out all that credit" unless someone was foolish enough to think they could just charge away despite their inadequate income. If someone was using credit cards to pay the mortgage, they should have been renting, not buying a house beyond their means with a "funny" mortgage.
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leftchick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 11:49 AM
Response to Reply #31
37. I know some folks in debt because of lack of Health Insurance
they have had to use credit cards for medication and health care. I dread if we lose our Insurance as I have about 800.00 a month in Meds and my son is a T1 Diabetic and his insulin is outrageous. Even with insurance I have to fight for every 'benefit'.

:(
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bulloney Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 12:23 PM
Response to Reply #22
41. Banks were offering credit to anything that had a pulse.
My son was getting pre-approved credit cards at age 10 back in the mid-90s!!!

That was the mindset of the time. Everyone's home equity would always increase and you were encouraged, almost to the point of being ridiculed into borrowing against your home to purchase things you really couldn't afford.
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OwnedByFerrets Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:55 AM
Response to Reply #9
26. The worst of the worst got filthy rich from this scheme....
and are either pointing fingers downward OR hiding in their bunkers huddling with their riches.
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NashVegas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:27 AM
Response to Reply #7
15. WE Were Supposed to Say "NO!" To a Forced Economy
Like congressional legislation that mandated we switch to digital television.
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Warren Stupidity Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:16 AM
Response to Original message
10. Our standard of living has been rising dramatically in the last 25 years?
I actually do not think that is a supportable assertion. Instead, over the last 25-35 years inflation adjusted family income has stagnated, per worker income has declined, families have adjusted by relying on dual incomes and working more hours and by incurring more debt than they have in the past.

Everytime I see a 'blame the people' rational I start getting hives.
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TwilightGardener Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:21 AM
Response to Reply #10
12. I don't see that either, actually. My parents used to be able to afford
a decent home, a yearly summer vacation trip (by car), and all the other usual middle-class trappings on one income, when I was little. My grandparents were all working class, but still owned homes, TV sets, appliances, etc. on one income. Families have a hard time doing that today, and it has nothing to do with the cliched "big screen TV, granite countertop" crap.
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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 12:28 PM
Response to Reply #12
42. Agreed.
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Hello_Kitty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:22 AM
Response to Reply #10
13. The cost of everything has gone up.
Housing, food, fuel, health care, college, etc. The only things that have gone down in price are high tech gadgets like TVs and computers. That's why they include electronic goods in the CPI, to make inflation appear lower. And also so they can point to poor people having flat screen TVs and say "See! Their standard of living has gone up!"
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NashVegas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:30 AM
Response to Reply #13
17. Re: High Tech Gadget Costs Going Down
While the costs of the gadgets have gone down, the cost of using them marches on.

That TiVo box is low cost, but the service is $13 a month. Adds up.
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Warren Stupidity Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:32 AM
Response to Reply #17
18. cable/internet/cell/land etc - people pay huge monthly bills for access
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NashVegas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 11:20 AM
Response to Reply #18
33. Sure Do. And GPS. What a Scream
Edited on Sun Mar-01-09 11:21 AM by NashVegas
When the menfolk start talking gadgets, I enjoy throwing in "Real men don't use GPS." Confuses them :)

Throw in a few more bucks for X-Box, Wii, etc ...
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NashVegas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:28 AM
Response to Reply #10
16. Isn't the Home Equity Loan About 25 Years Old?
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OwnedByFerrets Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:56 AM
Response to Reply #10
27. You are correct to question this assertion. Our DEBT ratio
is the only thing that has grown.
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emmadoggy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 11:44 AM
Response to Reply #10
35. Hammer meet nail.
That is the crux of it right there.

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NashVegas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:24 AM
Response to Original message
14. Yes. This Is What Many Of Have Been Telling You For Six + Years
When Bush started running the deficit back up, I did a quick Google search out of curiosity to find out which sector of the US economy was carrying the most debt.

I expected it to be defense, or transportation, but it was the mortgage industry, by a long shot.

But here's the kicker: just as US consumers were encouraged and lobbied to spend money they didn't have, by thinking of future, predicted income as an asset to be bartered or cashed in right now, businesses were doing the exact same thing.

After what happened on 9/11, you would think that the wisest heads in the country would prevail and lead and say, "hey kids, see how fucked we got by this one little blip? We need to use this as a lesson to get out of debt, NOW!" Instead, they went the exact opposite direction. It baffles.
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GinaMaria Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:32 AM
Response to Original message
19. Happy to be the first to Rec this, Sad and scared
about what this tells us. I'm afraid the hurt has only just begun.
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Kip Humphrey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:33 AM
Response to Original message
20. The debt spike is tied to declining standard of living: In 2002 Americans started using credit in
a much, much bigger way trying to maintain their declining standard of living using home equity loans then credit cards. Its a map of the decline of the American Middle Class engineered by the globalists.
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NoSheep Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:41 AM
Response to Original message
21. I heard this NPR story yesterday as well on This American Life. My thoughts:
First, it was very well done...explained things in terms anyone paying attention can understand. The banks' balance sheets and why they look the way they do. That particular team did another great piece you all may remember a while back after the first "bailout" when chimpy was still in office.

As I was listening, I remembered in 2002, when I moved back to the NC triangle area from Richmond, VA. I'd been away 5 years. The development that had occurred in my area was startling. HUGE areas of land cleared and populated with 1/2 million dollar homes. The McMansions we've discussed so much here on DU. Everybody had a couple of Luxury SUV's and many of the yards had lawn service crews working throughout the day(not just one person mowing the yard) More mega-malls had been built with high end stores like Nordstrom's. Stores selling granite counter tops. Luxury options everywhere.

My town of Durham, the last to boom in the triangle, had undergone a radical transformation...one, frankly, I'd been waiting on for years. The downtown had been completely revitalized. Huge old tobacco warehouse complexes turned into mixed use facilities with restaurants, office space and living areas. Lofts, downtown apartments, galleries, rerouting of all the streets that had been made one way years ago...condos downtown and most recently, a brand new Performing Arts Center and a fancy bus/Amtrak terminal.

It seems almost everyone has an Ipod, a laptop, a fancy cell phone, a new car, nice clothes, tons of money to eat out. More and more grocery stores are carrying fancier foods.

I was asking myself everyday: WHERE do these people work? How can so many people have such high paying jobs? Wages certainly haven't kept up with inflation! When I was growing up, there were 4 of us in our family. We didn't have extras and we understood why. We had the basics. Necessities. If we went to college, we paid for it with work study, grants and loans. Everybody had a used car they worked on themselves if they could. NO ONE had a lawn crew! No fancy electronics. Eating out was maybe a once a month thing. Maybe. We couldn't have afforded organic vegetables and meat had they been for sale. Now that I'm on my own, the 27 years since I left home have seen me collecting used furniture and refinishing it. I have a small clothing budget. I finally bought a house at 43 yrs of age. It's a modest house with a mortgage I can afford alone only because I have a studio apartment in the back yard that I rent. I've always had used cars. I'm on my second used Volvo wagon and I know it must have 350k miles on it. Looks like hell but drives like a dream.

The only answer I can see is that people have been living on credit. They weren't making enough money to afford all this luxury. The desire to have MORE MORE MORE made them crazy. I'd like to see the size of the mortgages and the lifestyle of the majority of people being foreclosed on now. I'd like to look at their itemized credit card bills. I bet the charges aren't all for emergency things like dental work and a new roof or heat pump for their old house. I'd be willing to bet many of them are Republicans. The party of the greedy. The "deadbeats" they are talking about so much on THAT OTHER SIDE of "the aisle".

I think this kind of thing must be happening all over the country. You should see the development along our beaches here. The average couple can't afford to visit anymore. Multi-million dollar homes everywhere you turn. At every beach...not just the fancy ones like Pawley's Island and North Myrtle or Hilton Head. People have been living on air...the profits of "exotic bank products" which are no more than lines of type on paper. It seems obvious to me now. it just doesn't add up any other way.
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OwnedByFerrets Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:58 AM
Response to Reply #21
28. ...
"The only answer I can see is that people have been living on credit. " Credit cards and second mortgages. You are so correct.
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TwilightGardener Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 11:04 AM
Response to Reply #21
29. I think you're talking about the upper middle class, though. If you made
well over a hundred thousand dollars, which is not uncommon in dual-career couples (I know quite a few who make that much, and more--related to some of them), you could afford that stuff--you can't assume that's all on credit. People really were doing very well. My sis-in-law makes a buttload of money, has a new huge house, new cars, etc.--she can afford that, because her monthly take home pay is probably 7 or 8 thousand dollars or more. The question is, will all of these people who were doing well KEEP ON doing well, or will they start to fall behind too?
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NoSheep Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 08:46 PM
Response to Reply #29
44. You've got to be kidding! I've been in a 2 income family and we absolutely
could not have afforded those things without being in debt up to our asses. 200,000 per yr doesn't buy you a lawn service and 2 luxury SUV's plus a 500,000 per year home. Not without being in a ton of debt. Forget having kids and saving for college.
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 10:54 AM
Response to Original message
24. Yes, this is the next big problem
Too many people decided to live like they were rich instead of middle class or poor. To achieve this, they racked up their credit cards. Hell, the warnings started ten, fifteen years ago. I remember watching as peoples' savings rate dropped throughout the nineties, and the dire warnings coming from that. I remember a story, about ten years ago, about how people were treating credit card debt was being treated differently, how people were OK with five thousand, ten thousand in such debt, just so long as they could handle the monthly payment. I remember shaking my head in disbelief while watching people charge groceries, gas, coffee for god's sake.

Yes, part of this can be laid at the fault of our overall decline in pay (though as many people have reminded me, during the Clinton years our standard of living has risen). Part of this can be laid at the feet of those who encouraged the public to spend like drunken sailors. But like it or not, much of this has to be laid at the feet of we the people. Nobody forced you to go out and spend money you didn't have. Nobody forced you to live beyond your means. Nobody forced you to buy a house on a no money down ARM, and nobody forced you to cash out your equity like an ATM.

Yes, I recognize that there are millions of people out there who have had emergencies in their lives that required going into debt. I have no problem with that. I also recognize that there are millions of people like myself who've lived within their means, despite the pressure to do otherwise. However there are millions and millions more who were irresponsible, who spent like drunken sailors on shore leave, thinking that the piper would never have to be paid, who thought that they could live the high life on credit. These people are the ones who piss me off because we're all paying the price for their irresponsibility. These are the people who need to learn a serious lesson about personal responsibility, who ideally would be the ones to bear the brunt of of this crisis. Yet instead, because they no longer have any money, the rest of us are going to get stuck with the tab instead. Sorry, but for these people I have no sympathy. I can't afford sympathy for them, because I'm too busy trying to keep my own head out of the water because the mess they created is about to swamp us all.

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renate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 11:48 AM
Response to Reply #24
36. yup... I have friends in both situations
Some are in dire straits because of medical emergencies and marriages that started out well but went epically wrong. Other people have expenses related to taking care of aging parents and children who go off the rails. And some plainly and simply lived beyond their means--I think because everybody was doing it (excesses were everywhere, from $4 cups of coffee to cars for brand-new teenaged drivers, to the point where it looked absolutely and completely normal. I think people who watch the home improvement and fashion channel TLC became particularly susceptible to overspending, because of the reality shows in which normal-income people made their homes and closets look as good as the ones on prime-time, non-reality TV shows).

The psychology of spending is really interesting to me (other than medical and family situations that can't be controlled). I feel very lucky to have been raised by parents who were careful with their money. It's what I learned as a child so it comes naturally now. If I'd never had an example like theirs to follow, and had only ever seen people spend beyond their means on cars, redecorating, clothes, and eating out, I don't know whether I could have resisted the temptation to do the same thing. I'd like to think I could, but I don't know.
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 11:55 AM
Response to Reply #36
39. I have parents who went through the Depression
They taught me to live within my means.

I've had friends who suffered from life's troubles and had to go into debt, those are the people I feel sorry for.

However I've seen friends, family and acquaintances who just went nuts. Got into house flipping and got burned. Wanted it all now, and dove right in. The whole concept of just so long as their monthly CC bill is affordable, all was good is insane, yet I've seen lots of people who lived by this ethos, it astounded me.

And now comes the reckoning, and lots of people have some hard lessons to learn. Hopefully they stick and the next generation learns from them as well.
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leftchick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 12:21 PM
Response to Reply #39
40. "Is it a want, or a need?"
I ask this repeatedly of my children whenever they ask for something. Which is about every day. They know they only get "needs" now.
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 12:51 PM
Response to Reply #40
43. Having been homeless for a couple of years,
I've always asked myself that question, even twenty some odd years later. Sure, I've splurged on wants, but I never confuse the two.

Sadly it seems like a lot of people did exactly that. If I had a dime for every person I heard say "I need this new SUV" or "I need this new forty inch plasma TV" or "I need this new McMansion", I'd be a rich man and not have to worry about this mess so much.

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boobooday Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 11:05 AM
Response to Original message
30. Living high on the hog?
Or using credit to buy stuff that wages used to cover, like health care, education and food?

When was the last time YOU got a raise?
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nadinbrzezinski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 11:08 AM
Response to Original message
32. The talkjng heads are finally talking about this?
Gee golly, their timing is perfect, didn't save hoover either

That said, we started dealing with it NOW why the GOP is scared. They know they are probably facing at least a generation in the wilderness... as people know who was in charge when it hit.

BUSH

Not why... or how, or how the liberalization of the markets helped them (yes I'm talking of Clinton who should have known better and at least make the effort for history' s sake)
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burythehatchet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 11:32 AM
Response to Original message
34. I think we do ourselves no favor by looking at the situation in isolated frames
Edited on Sun Mar-01-09 11:34 AM by burythehatchet
These things are all inter-connected and no single one is the cause or the result.

It puzzles me when pontificators declare that the "housing crisis" is at the core of the problem. These cretins actually believe the problem is that house prices declining are the reason for our problems. Stabilize house prices, they say, failing to recognize that when house prices were increasing, that was the drier that gave us our huge credit lines. A bubble (ponzi scheme) can only remain inflated with new money. As soon as one little area of the bubble pops a leak, the whole thing blows.

This has been in the making for decades. It is the result of spending trillions of dollars to feed the vultures. It is th result of the political process having been corrupted. It is the result of a complacent media that has no idea what it is supposed to do.
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leftchick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 11:50 AM
Response to Reply #34
38. excellent points
but the media is doing its job for the robber barons who own it.
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