Something has really been eating at me these past few months, and I decided it was time to address it. The subject is simple: credit. Now, this isn’t a how-to about fixing credit, or why it’s important to have good credit, but instead aimed at those who look down on people with bad credit because, honestly, it’s very easy to go from good to bad with just a few slip-ups, but very hard to from bad to good and, unless you are totally brain dead, you know it’s designed this way on purpose.
Today’s credit-driven economy is based on a black-and-white concept: pay your bills on time, get your education, and you will do well, right? Wrong. The reality, the cruel, painful and unsympathetic reality is that most people make some catastrophic mistakes in their lives, or run into some sort of major issue which drives them into Bad Credit Land at least once in their lives. Those who don’t ever run into this sort of issue should consider themselves blessed because, on some level, luck did factor into it. Here are some of the most common means which people are driven from Financial Eden into the depth of Credit Hell:
Medical Bills: of all the most common ways people fall into debt and credit trauma, this is the most insidious. Someone who is facing a catastrophic disease, or an injury through no fault of their own, or simply an illness are often subject massive doctor bills. Granted, there are those whose medical conditions are a matter of consequence vis a vis their choice of lifestyle or habits, but today’s medical fees and costs are nearly punitive and, especially with the current legislative climate, makes one wonder if the insurance companies and financial industry want it this way. Perhaps this is what made President Obama’s ill-fated and even more ill-conceived pitch for universal health care so appealing to many.
Student Loans: this is the new indentured servitude of our time. Millions of college students, taking on debt they can’t possibly repay, find themselves in situations where they want to get the best education possible, only to run into issues which derail educations. Granted, many students bring things upon themselves, but there is just as much academic malfeasance, crooked administrators, financial aid officers, lender incompetence, and professors with axes to grind against students which create situations in which students exhaust their financial aid options, or are unable to complete their education due to family issues. This results in students with plenty of debt, plenty of knowledge, but lacking the one thing which is now essential in this now-degree-inflated job market full of lazy hiring professionals: a piece of paper certifying their skill set.
The politics of reality: like it or not, it has been proven that certain sets of individuals seem to catch more breaks in life. If you are attractive, connected, born to wealth, physically fit or exceptionally cutthroat, you will often do better than yourless-attractive, more social conscious and less physically fit counterparts. Social Darwinists, which are, regrettably, becoming increasingly pervasive in our society today, will say they deserve their largess because of their cunning, skill or discipline. In many cases, fortune favors the selfish, greedy or flat-out corrupt.
The system itself: the credit-based financial system is inherently designed to reward those who work within it, and relentlessly punish those who either buck it or, through no fault of their own, fall into a subclass, which is the economic teet of a financial system rotting from the inside out and continues to be given governmental chemotherapy in the form of bailouts, tax breaks and corporate welfare. It has created a neo-feudalism, and this is an issue which will eventually destroy the current economic system because, like it or not, a house built upon quicksand cannot stand, and an economic surviving on the backs of those who can least afford to support will eventually collapse under the weight of its own greed and hubris.
There is one area in which those of low economic means can take heart: history tends to be cyclical and it has proven that, eventually, those of wealth and privilege either fall or must make accommodations to help those less privileged, lest they suffer an unfortunate fate. Slavery was justified through racial superiority, feudalism was justified through biblical and religious concepts, and the Gilded Age was justified through social Darwinism. Today’s economic system is justified through a perverse meritocratic-capitalistic philosophy which now risks becoming near-theocratic in its application. Those who look down at people based on their credit score number would do well to remember that the world, as a whole, stands upon a precipice and it only takes a small nudge to turn a position of power and prestige into that steep fall into a socioeconomic perdition.
When less than one percent of the world’s population holds ninety-nine percent of its wealth, the results are never good. The aforementioned credit issues are just the symptoms of a cancer which afflicts our world’s society, and threatens to metastasize if some sort of means of lifting up the downtrodden and underemployed to a position of true dignity is not found, soon. Those who judge this way may want to look in the mirror because, one day, they too will be judged, and their judgment may not be as merciful as they hope. The following biblical verse may sum it up best:
“and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away.” – James 1:10