“The Fantasy of Debt: No Trade-Offs, No Sacrifices”

That’s the title of an article by the inimitable Charles Hugh Smith.  He’s not stating anything new, but a great many people today have lost sight of the economic basics that he restates so well.  If you have friends and/or relatives who are mired in debt and don’t understand their fiscal danger, you need to point them to this article.  Here’s an excerpt.

Debt offers a compelling fantasy: there is no need for difficult trade-offs or sacrifices, everything can be bought and enjoyed now.

. . .

Trade-offs and sacrifices were the core of household finances for those families that sought to “get ahead” or purchase things that required substantial cash.

Abundant, cheap credit upended the incentives to make adult trade-offs and sacrifice consumption for future benefits.

. . .

Why choose between a lavish vacation, a year of college or a boat? Buy all three on credit.

This mentality has infected the entire nation and culture. Why should we have to choose between $600 billion military spending and $600 billion Medicare spending? Let’s just borrow the $1.2 trillion every year to pay for both.

. . .

To the degree that our government distributes $1.3 trillion in borrowed money every year, everyone receiving money from the Federal government is living off debt that draws interest and will never be paid.

Thus it is an artifice to say that a person collecting money from the Federal government is “debt-free”: the debt they are incurring is simply once removed.

. . .

Relying on credit to fuel “growth” in everything only worked when incomes were rising and interest rates could be cut. Now that incomes are stagnant for 90% of the populace and interest rates have been slashed, there is no way to increase leverage.

. . .

Living within one’s income (household or national income) requires making difficult trade-offs and sacrfices: either current consumption is sacrificed for future benefits, or the future benefits are sacrificed for current consumption. You can’t have it both ways …

There’s much more at the link.  Go read the whole thing.  It’s worth it (as is his Web site as a whole).


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