America has become a nation of debt slaves not by chance, but by design.
An insightful article in the June 12th Daily Kos discusses the role debt plays in locking desperate people into dependence on employers, banks, and the state. The system functions in a similar way to the sharecropping that trapped American farmers in poverty for generations.
Today, the debts do not involve liens against crops. People in modern America carry student loans, credit card debt, and mortgages. All of these are hard to pay back, often bringing with them impenetrable contracts and illegal fees. Credit card debt is difficult to discharge in bankruptcy and a default on a home loan can leave you homeless. A student loan debt is literally a claim against a life — you cannot discharge it in bankruptcy, and if you die, your parents are obligated to pay it. If the banks have their way, mortgages and deficiency judgments will follow you around forever, as they do in Spain.
Young people and what only cynics might call `homeowners’ have no choice but to jump on the treadmill of debt, as debtcroppers. The goal is not to have them pay off their debts, but to owe forever. Whatever a debtcropper owes, a wealthy creditor owns. And as a bonus, the heavier the debt burden of American citizenry, the less able we are able to organize and claim our democratic rights as citizens.
ᔥThe Daily Kos
Coupled with employee dependence on company provided health insurance, debtcropping guarantees a ready supply of wage serfs. Indebted and dependent on a full time job for decent health care, American workers are forced into salaried jobs, however insecure they might be. Striking out on their own as entrepreneurs or artists is unthinkable and our lives and our country are the poorer for that.