The sub prime mortgage crisis began and just hit its peak, according to some economic analysts. In my opinion, it has been long in coming. The basic issue was that lenders issued mortgages at low rates that were adjustable. At the low rate, home buyers were able to squeak out payments. But, when the interest rates rose and monthly payments rose, the consumer was unable to pay. Many loans were given to people at the economic margin and anyone with an elementary education should have seen that those consumers could not afford a doubling of their payments. Anyone looking for details can easily Google “mortgage crisis” and get more financial information than you could probably use.
One may also recall the savings and loan crisis of the late 70s and early 80s which, according to some, led to the recession in 1991-92. Again, the approach was a bandage in the form of a bailout. And today, we see another bailout, but not a cure. Economic news has seen the current financial woes spread across the world thanks to globalization. The economic markets have become so entangled that if one suffers, they all are affected. This is kind of reminiscent of the web of tangled alliances that led to WWI or the “domino theory” of the Vietnam War era. We all know that markets have been consolidating and control of the economies in the world is spiraling into the hands of the few. Perhaps we should take a lesson from nature.
Diversity is a key for ecological health. As species diversity decreases, an ecological system may collapse. While this is actually happening in the environment today, it should serve as a mirror of our economic systems. As conglomerates grow, diversity is lost and economic systems face collapse. They talk of a tipping point with respect to climate change, the same hold true for economic systems. We are fast approaching the time when the bandage will not work because the system cannot heal itself.
Perhaps the primary reason that the system is in deep financial is “greed.” The powers that be continue to insist that we purchase things that we do not really need and that we do so whether we have the money or not. In one of my articles, “You Are Pre-Approved to Go Deeper into Debt,” I tried to show that we are deluged with offers to take out low interest loans or get starter low interest credit cards in order to purchase that new car, fix the house or take a vacation. Daily offers received in the mail or by email to buy now and pay later are very attractive to those who might be faced with financial difficulties. The offers of thousands of dollars now are even attractive to those with steady incomes who feel that that will be able to keep up in the hopes of growing incomes. Even with the current financial crisis looming over everyone’s head, these cheap credit offers still pour in.
The world cannot sustain wanton consumerism. It is one thing to produce and to purchase products that will enhance the quality of our lives or to decrease our dependence on vanishing fuel systems. It is quite another thing to buy for the sake of buying and to keep up with the latest trends in fashion, the newest junk toys and other products that will soon hit already overburdened landfills. It has been clear that large corporations are not treating consumers and the environment in a responsible manner. We are now in that “pay later” of the buy now syndrome and the question is, “Can we afford the price?”
Mr. Harris was born in Massachusetts. He attended The American University in Washington, D.C. and received his degree in Political Science. His graduate work was done at the University of Northern Colorado and Howard University. While in D.C., he spent several years working for local and regional government agencies. Upon moving to Maine he worked with three governors and served as the Assistant Director of the Maine State Planning Office. He worked on a White House Task Force for the development of a National Rural Policy and later served as Rural Policy Coordinator at the Federal Regional Council of New England. He has worked on gubernatorial and senatorial political campaigns and currently works in Special Education.