We ...you and me... live in a society based on consumption.

Each one of us is expected to do their part in the continual purchase of goods and services.

The catch is, that this expectation is no longer based on our ability to pay for those goods and services.

We are expected to extend ourselves beyond our immediate capabiliities in order to move commerce (cash) from account to account, with little regard for the consequences of creating an indebted populace.

How little regard? you ask.

How many credit card offers have you received this week?

How easy has it become in every retailer ...even some of the grocery stores... to apply for and receive instant "branded" credit? often including usage beyond the store brand with sponsorship by VISA or MasterCard and a major financial institution (CHASE, MNBA, First USA). This relieves the merchant from worry about being paid, because he is paid by the credit sponsor (an exception might be someone like Sears who has close creation ties with Discover) and the credit sponsor then charges you interest on the balance of indebtedness he has allowed you to create with him ...he also kept a percentage of the amount due the merchant to cover the cost of the transaction.

Have no illusion, until you are late on a payment, the creditor has no desire for you to pay more than the minimum amount against the bill. He has maximized the number months needed to actually pay off the debt, for your convenience (low payments) and for his profits (five to six times the amount of the original debt)

Now, these companies are not dumb. They have statistical and actuarial resources the envy of any insurance company. They know who you are -- specifically -- and your credit history and spending habits -- intimately. And they have knowledge of how much you are likely to charge, and how many people with that sort of debt pay it off in what fashion ...or miss a payment ...or fail to pay the note for an extended time ...or declare bankruptcy ...or commit suicide due to fiscal stress. They know...

And the only responsibility they take for helping you deal with your debt to them, is to employ a third party to harass you for missing one payment and not having yet posted the next one ...we're talking fifty dollars here folks, maybe as little as forty. If they lose touch with you, they make no effort to actually find a new address as long as you keep making payments; they will happily play their "due date game" and start adding late charges to your account while you are not receiving a statement... even though you continue to make payments each month. And when you do get it straightened out, they are not at fault for any extra charges because it is your responsibility to keep them informed of that address change. They don't care that you did take care of it, because they have no record of it... do you get the idea here?

Credit has been defined as the sole responsibility of the debtor. YOU and ME, with all of life's pressures, by accepting debt have become indentured to the lender. I am not so certain that I disagree with the old belief that debt and the "money changers" associated with it, are an evil ...a sin ...a pox upon humanity.

I come to all this realization late of course. I am at that point where the ease of debt acquisition, coupled with the changes in the economy we have witnessed in the past 18 months, created a fiscal situation for me, that I could no longer handle. And the creditors take no responsibility for their part in the creation of this problem. We were both placing our trust in the same thing, and we are both losers... but I am the criminal.