Friday, July 12, 2013

The American Scheme

Credit card debt rose by 53% during the '90s for the middle class; for the working poor, it rose by 184%. Not because of a sudden increase in consumer greed, but because of the wholesale elimination of living wage jobs replaced with minimum and P/T employment w/o benefits.    Photo: S. Banos

Unless you make a minimum of 50Gs a year, you're little more than a shit stain in this country. And I oughta know, just like so many of my fellow Americans who live on half that. It means you live paycheck to paycheck, counting every damn penny, buying necessities on credit, with no chance of ever quite catching up- no chance of ever breathing a sigh of blessed relief. Actually, in many ways I am truly lucky, I have some modicum of health benefits- more importantly, I have no dependents to feed and worry about. 

This documentary, which follows the lives of two families over twenty years, exposes what has now become largely myth- that the American worth ethic will determine your success. It is no longer sage advice, simple logic or even common sense- it is now the exception to the rule. Your toil will no longer set you free, your dedication and perseverance simply prolongs your survival. The robust economy of yesteryear was never at the mercy of welfare queens driving pink Cadillacs as Reagan would have had us believe, just as it is not the victim of illegal immigrants today. Plentiful, decent paying jobs have been purposely dissipated overseas, along with our dreams, our benefits, and the billions of tax dollars that banks, corporations and CEOs once invested in this country. On any given day you can stand and watch the container ships from China parade under the Golden Gate in the beautiful California sunlight loaded with the economic bounty that was once ours. We are no longer meant to share in this country's great bounty, we are simply the means to increase that bounty for those already enriched.

The American Dream now exists solely as just that, an unattainable goal for the masses, a leftover legacy held high above our heads to first delude us, and ultimately, to shame us when we fall short in a system that is now largely rigged.

 When will we ever wake up?

Watch Two American Families on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.


Stan B. said...

This is a comment from Colin Pantall:

Do you have payday loan companies in the US - basically legal loan sharks who give out short term loans with aprs in the thousands of per cent - and guess what, if the short term loan turns into a long term loan it's great business.

The poor in the Uk are absolutely getting fucked over completely - the welfare state is getting torn to pieces. There aren't too many people covering this who are high profile (Jim Mortram is one guy who is very vocal though).

But it needs to be covered - it will be interesting to see what comes up because it is a massive reshaping of UK policy, possibly more akin to what happened in the US in the 80s.

Stan B. said...

Must say I haven't heard of this particular scam, though common sense dictates it probably does exist in a multitude of mutations. Will look into it...

lstevenson said...

Stan, payday loans are a huge problem in the US. I don't know how it is where you are, but down here in Texas, at least in North Texas (I'm in Dallas), this entire region is blanketed with these places. They are able to charge those aprs because there is no federally regulated interest rate cap on short term (6 months or less) loans. So it's up to the states to set their own caps...but the banks are able to lend money in any state in the US, that's why most credit card banks are located in states like Delaware, Utah and South Dakota. So, I could walk into a payday lender here in Dallas and take out a loan, but the bank that I would be repaying that loan, isn't located here, but in another state, so they don't have to abide by Texas's Usury laws (which cap at 24% with inflation)

Stan B. said...

Speaking of Delaware- chances are you can probably thank Credit Card Joe for that.