06 March, 2007

Not Sure How I Feel About This...

I don't believe in credit. Unless I need it.

And I think that sums up the attitude of most people. The breakdown seems to come with the word need, which most people define according to their own terms and life circumstances. Part of being an adult is the crushing realisation that you need to eat, but do not need four emo CDs and a venti latte from Starbucks.

A consumer-rights group is starting a major campaign to educate people about the predatory practices of various lending industries. And I think that sounds like a good idea, because there are probably people out there who don't know that you shouldn't borrow money you can't pay back. Of course, I would say that the converse of that is there should be institutions out there who shouldn't lend money they don't believe can be paid back--but who am I to judge?

I think predatory lending institutions are a blight on our society. But since I'm also a big believer in individual liberty, I guess I'm having more and more of a problem laying all the blame for credit woes at the institutions' doorstep. I do know what it's like to be in desperate financial straits, and how much of a blessing it can seem to get a check after signing a few papers. Sometimes credit is nothing more than a form of optimism, a fervant prayer that things will get better down the road.

So what am I not sure about? I think I'm more and more not sure that I like current thinking that most borrowers are stupid children being gulled by wily creditors. I think that if we're going to have awareness campaigns about credit the campaigns should extend beyond the level of it's-not-your-fault-they-took-advantage-of-you. Yes, some people have credit problems because they undertook loans to finance a business or pay a hospital bill. But for everyone of those, I'm sure there are people who have credit cards weighed down with restaurant meals, vacations and other little luxuries of life.

If we're going to start educating people about credit, let's not only highlight the lenders. There's plenty of blame to go around.


At 2:39 PM, March 06, 2007, Blogger Kathy T. said...

I'm with you. Of course my rage is usually aimed at predatory lenders for home mortgages, but there are so many other bad lenders out there. (If anyone ever wants to know who the worst lender is that I've ever experienced, I'll tell in an email or on the phone but can't post.) Meanwhile, I agree that there are too many people out there who prey on hardship. I don't know how they can look in the mirror every day with any kind of respect for themselves.


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