Getting Over Our Debt Addiction

June 10, 2008

OptionARMageddon is all about raising awareness of our debt-fueled lives and economy. Debt is a dangerous crutch to lean on. It’s a drug, really, offering users the temporary and totally artificial high of having more stuff: the bigger house, the faster car, the size D breasts.

In today’s NYT, David Brooks has a great Op-Ed on our troubling national debt habit:

The people who created this country built a moral structure around money. The Puritan legacy inhibited luxury and self-indulgence. Benjamin Franklin spread a practical gospel that emphasized hard work, temperance and frugality. Millions of parents, preachers, newspaper editors and teachers expounded the message. The result was quite remarkable.

The United States has been an affluent nation since its founding. But the country was, by and large, not corrupted by wealth. For centuries, it remained industrious, ambitious and frugal.

Over the past 30 years, much of that has been shredded. The social norms and institutions that encouraged frugality and spending what you earn have been undermined. The institutions that encourage debt and living for the moment have been strengthened. The country’s moral guardians are forever looking for decadence out of Hollywood and reality TV. But the most rampant decadence today is financial decadence, the trampling of decent norms about how to use and harness money…..

Deeper into his article, Brooks mentions a great piece with additional detail on the topic. You can find that article here.

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