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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Money Changers in the Temple: The Debt Fantasy

Another horrific fantasy today is the "debt fantasy."

When you are young at some point you probably are offered a credit card.  No doubt with high interest. 

The "idea," of course, is that you will learn how to use it responsibly.  But, because you are new to the world of "big finance" you get a 29% interest rate and a small credit limit.

Like heroin, the idea is not to get you to try the credit card, the idea is to addict you.  So plenty of free samples are provided.

(In 2009 according to this USA Today article the average undergraduate credit card debt was $3,100 USD.)

The fantasy here, of course, is that you can "have" what you can't afford to have.

If it's too good to be true it probably is, and that's certainly true for debt.

Well, at least for college students you can always get your credit card debt discharged in bankruptcy.

But this fantasy extends well beyond college kids.

Our president tells children how they must have an education - every last one - to be "successful."

What is not provided is a means to "afford" that education so silently most of our children follow him, like the pied piper, into crippling debt along with a useless college degree.

And since this kind of "debt lifestyle" is so common these same children vote for elected officials that operate our cities, states, and government like a credit-card-crazed college freshman running up further debt - in fact debt to pay the interest in more debt.

We are today a nation of debtors.

With no collateral to back it up (can you return your college degree to retire you debt?)

As a nation we spend around $4 billion USD a day and we borrow almost half of that each day.

The other day I saw this little cartoon on Facebook:

Now in this particular biblical story Christ feeds the masses with a few loaves and fish.  This is accomplished via a miracle - an event attributed to divine intervention.  The loaves and fish replicate themselves until everyone has their fill.

One imagines that with divine intervention involved it matters little how many people are involved or whether they honestly need the food.

But our government is not divine (contrary to what you might have seen and heard in the past).  Its unable to simply manufacture food from nothing.  Yet, like Christ, it intends to feed everyone who shows up asking for food.

So how does it accomplish this?

Through a governmental "miracle" that does not involve divine intervention but instead involves debt intervention.

To many debt intervention is like divine intervention.  You don't see how it actually works but the results give you immediate gratification for what you crave right now - in this case food.

The only problem is that you are really not feeding the poor if you rely on debt.

Since you could not afford to feed the poor in the first place you are merely delaying the consequences of being broke to some future point, i.e., while the food will be acquired and distributed today at some point you will be unable to continue with the fantasy that you can afford to do this and will no longer be able to borrow money to do it.

At that point people will actually begin to starve.

So are the people better off being tricked into believing they are being support by someone or something that is simply delaying the inevitable?

This is the difference between debt intervention and divine intervention. 

Divine intervention does not incur or involve debt.

But there is yet another fantasy involved here. 

Those that pretend to be divine when faced with a crisis like the masses on the hill who are hungry.

Now I cannot speak for Christ unlike the cartoons authors, but biblically speaking least (interesting that Google cannot spellcheck "biblically"), one has a hard time imagining Christ sending a couple of folks over to the money changers in the Temple (or going himself) to borrow money (take on debt) to pay for fishes and loaves.

Lucky for him he could use divine intervention to accomplish this miracle.

But today's politicians are not divine so they pretend to be Christ-like by borrowing money to make it appear as if they are and can provide fish and loaves in the same way.

Of course, creating this fantasy also involves lying about what's happening.

This is, of course, because we are borrowing the money from the very community which we are feeding.  Basically leaving empty I.O.U.'s in exchange for money today.

Money changers in the Temple.

But what happens when the money changers run out of money to lend?  I doubt they could rely on divine intervention either...

So here we are today - the money changers tables are empty.

The Temple is empty too.

The masses on the hill have eaten all the food our borrowed money can provide.

Do we think we can rely on a divine miracle to save us?

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