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The new and scary culture of debt

This article on Greece’s debt is scary for a few reasons. The growing and insidious new debt culture is going to get very dangerous for all of us very soon. It’s got a few different facets, but two of its main ones are apparent all over.

The first facet is characterized by the Greek situation; in effect, this Greek lawmaker is telling Germany, “You owe us. Why? Because you’re better off than we are. And if you disagree, we’ll make you feel really bad about the Holocaust.” Somehow the world latched onto the notion that those with means owe those who lack them. It’s not hard to see how this mindset is unsustainable, as a matter of practicality, not to mention how destructive the moral component of this will be to all of us at some point. As a matter of practicality, the rich simply don’t make enough to pay the poor’s way; as a moral matter, the human soul and the society made up of them cannot thrive if it is convinced that need justifies reaching into another man’s pockets, whether he wants your hands in there or not.

The second facet of this new debt culture is a rampant thought process we here in the U.S. are now very familiar with; in effect, struggling homeowners have been saying: “I shouldn’t have to pay you back, because I was in need when you loaned me the money and therefore you exploited me.” The “therefore” is key; the exploitation follows the need necessarily and by definition. Needing the money and having it loaned to you by definition means you were exploited, almost no matter the terms. You wanted the home, you couldn’t afford it at prime rates, so you took a subprime loan and therefore you were exploited and no longer need abide by the loan’s terms. Forget that Google was pretty powerful stuff — even back in 2005 when you bought a home worth 10 times more than you make in a year! — what matters now is that you weren’t smart enough, or you were too desperate, to do a simple web search to find out just how hot a poker up the ass an ARM loan could be for you at some point. No, siree, Bob, this is all the lender’s fault. Not because the contract was illegal. But because you simply don’t want to pay anymore.

A third facet is the — of course — liberal notion of third-world debt “forgiveness.” I love that term: forgiveness. See how, through its use, the idea of abandoning one’s financial obligations is lent an air of religiosity while simultaneously flipping the moral equation? These countries needed the money, they accepted it as a loan, and now, what, to hell with the lenders? To hell with the obligations lenders were hoping to pay with the money they were supposed to get from the “forgiven” debtors? Does that mean the lenders now can go to their lenders and say, “Hey, country, you need to ‘forgive’ my debt, because that other country forced me to ‘forgive’ its debt and now I can’t pay you”? How is this sustainable?

Who the hell is going to issue debt to anyone — whether to a country or an individual — if, at some point in the future, all the debtor has to do is band together with other similarly indebted citizens or nations and successfully convince the Powers That Be that their cause — not repaying money they don’t feel like paying back — is just?

At some point, people will stop lending and you could hardly blame them. Or they’ll raise everyone else’s interest rates to offset the money stolen — that’s right, I said it! — by those who’ve been “forgiven.” Because contrary to what most liberals think, this isn’t play money — it has to come from somewhere. Raising interest rates would, of course, raise the level of disdain for these usurious bastards who dare offer loans.

So looky here — what the rich need to do — and let’s compromise with the Democrats and call “the rich” anyone who makes more than $250,000 a year — is band together a la Atlas Shrugged and stop producing altogether. Shut down their loans. Close down their banks. Shutter up their businesses — or hey, maybe let those who make $249,999.99 a year or less figure out how to run them. Stop their tax-paying. That’s right, no more of that evil capitalism in this thankless world. Let’s just see how the rest of us get along without them.

But this would be stupid and wouldn’t change how liberals and their dependent constituency think, because no doubt the rich would then be pilloried for deciding to join the poor, worthless, unproductive ranks of the succubi who brought them down.

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