Then and Now -- Debt
A huge change in the last 50 years is our individual and national attitude toward debt. It has come to be status quo instead of something we fear and avoid at all cost.
My parents had survived the Depression, but it left its mark on them. My father, in particular, saved his money with a vengeance. He didn’t buy anything he couldn’t pay for other than a house (for $8,000) in 1952. He paid cash for his cars. He never used his Mastercard, the one charge card he possessed. And he instilled a fear of debt so deep in me that I could never imagine being there.
Today’s generation of young people, for the most part, have a very different attitude toward debt. Many of them are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt when they graduate from school, often carrying multiple school loans. They max out their credit cards. Some finally declare bankruptcy. But many simply accept their debt, not really letting it cause them too much angst.
Our country has evolved much the same attitude. When Bill Clinton left office, we were in great fiscal shape, actually showing a surplus. But those days are long gone as we dig ourselves out of multiple wars and economic woes. In reaction to our 3 trillion dollar deficit, we simply print more money and hope the world believes in the almighty dollar.
Instead of collective angst, we as a nation seem to be in collective denial about the fact that we are in a bad way and we sorely need to generate income, most obviously by taxing those with the most money who have been enjoying a relatively free ride for sometime now.
I don’t know how much longer this complacent attitude can go on before it really catches up with us. But I do know it eventually will if we don’t put our politics aside and figure out how to return to solvency.