Friday, December 12, 2008

The Immorality of Debt

On the day after Congress rejected a bailout for the automakers, I am wondering how the next few years will play out in North America. I'm glad they said "no"; we are all taking our medicine now. Let 'em fail... but millions and millions will be out of work soon.

So, I'm convinced now that things will get very bad for many people. The reason? Because we have all been misled about the morality of money.
  • Banks and hedge funds playing the "leverage game", finding new ways to keep up the facade while selling marginal loans to other companies and countries, are immoral.
  • Banking giants who charge high interest rates to high risk customers are doing something that is immoral.
  • Mortgage lenders who promised money to people who could not pay when the rates adjusted were immoral.
  • Families who spend more money on credit card debt than widows, orphans, and even their own children, are immoral (My own included).
  • Companies that worked their people into the ground for minimum wage while they paid their executives outrageous salaries are immoral
  • Churches that went into massive debt to purchase large buildings and fancy sound systems instead of caring for more poor and needy... are the most immoral. They had a book that warned them. They should have known better.


steven hamilton said...

ah, really demands you serve it, doesn't it?

but we refuse to believe what Jesus said, don't we?

Matt D. said...

Could it also be considered immoral for the individuals who signed up for the loans without even reading the fine print or thinking ahead about their ARM? Maybe the biggest mistake isn't the fault of the lender or the borrower but of our society that has embraced this creed of theocapitalism* (capitalism as God) which says that serenity can be attained from possession and consumption. I think we have bigger problems than a bunch of immoral bankers taking advantage of a deregulated lending system. The global meltdown is just a result of believing a lie. I think Debt itself isn't inherently immoral, it's the systemic failure of our culture to believe that deep satisfaction can be attained not through possession and consumption but through giving and sharing (no I'm not a communist). What would this look like? I don't know, that's Obama's job. All I know is that before we throw debt under the bus, we should pause for a moment and reflect on how our nation became so prosperous in the first place.
*Thanks to Tom Beaudoin for the term Theocapitalsim