From the Great Recession to the Grand Illusion of recovery, growing household debt and the number of families struggling to make ends meet is the story left behind the curtain. Only a few leaders, authors and bloggers expose the underbelly reality hoping for strength in the numbers of those who wake up to the window dressing. As Charles Hugh-Smith puts it, “Welcome to debt-serfdom, the only possible output of the soaring cost of living for the unprotected many who are ruled by a hubris-soaked, subsidized Protected Elite.”
I could not have said it better, myself. Yet first-world culture appears to be all about looking good for those in it even if living in a world of hurt.
Not unlike the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes, we’re supposed to go along to get along and never mention the emperor is butt naked, i.e. that you’re living precariously on the edge. As an issue deemed “negative” in a “think positive” world and way too personal to talk about, people tend to consider they are the only ones navigating rough financial waters. Conversation must stay upbeat. However, this tacit agreement to silence seems to only eventually lead them to deeper and murkier circumstances, until they are betrayed as if by a cheating spouse.
Methinks suffering in silence (by the little guys) is part of the big guys’ strategy to assure the longevity of their own financial domination. All along, you honestly believed you were doing everything you were supposed to because that’s what the experts said to do. But, alas, you learned the hard way. Bad news for you; good news for the Emperor.
Given corporate commerce has the mandate of a profitable bottom line, if to stay in existence, markets must expand and sales must grow. Marketing and advertising serves to cloud the non-commercial human’s innate ability to recognize their array of choices as they head down the road of increased consumption. The banking industry touts the benefits of their product, credit, and since everyone else relies on credit, why not? Some call the outcome, debt-slavery.
Despite the distraction of a booming stock market masquerading as an expression of a healthy economy, household debt levels tell another story; they surpass debt levels of the Great Recession in 2008. The Federal Reserve reports on household debt for the 1st quarter of 2017.
“Aggregate household debt balances increased in the first quarter of 2017, for the 11th consecutive quarter, finally surpassing the 2008Q3 peak of $12.68 trillion. As of March 31, 2017, total household indebtedness was $12.73 trillion, a $149 billion (1.2%) increase from the fourth quarter of 2016. Overall household debt is now 14.1% above the 2013Q2 trough.”
A Bankrate Inc. January 2017 survey revealed 57% of American respondents (6 of 10) didn’t have enough cash to cover a $500 unexpected expense. Almost half of the 1,003 adults surveyed said they or a member of their family were hit with a major expense in the past year.
However, if you discern with eyes wide open, you can see marketing manipulation for what it is. Greater awareness brings into focus the greater range of choices available to you beyond those prescribed by a marketplace that benefits at your expense. With a curiosity to advance your financial IQ, alternatives to traditional wealth building and management start to make sense.
What this proves, in my estimation, is that suffering in silence does advance the cause of financial and personal well-being in the lives of everyday people. Bottom line, the problem is systemic, not personal. Until more people are willing to discover how the monetary system undermines their best efforts, and speak up about it, I fear more suffering behind closed doors.