This is a rambly post without a definite conclusion, so I apologize in advance. I’m just thinking out loud, so don’t take it overly seriously. I saw a news story today about Ben Bernanke talking big about how people and businesses just need more loans to keep our economy going. This sort of stuff just makes me sick to my stomach when I compare it with the ideas about economics put forth in many ancient sources, including but not related to the almost unanimous Christian opinion over the last two thousand years that lending money at interest is at best a very questionable thing to do since it too easily slides into mere base usury.
I don’t know what the answer is to all this, because it’s just a fundamental philosophical (and behind that, spiritual) problem with the way our culture thinks about money and possessions. We think life is about buying, buying, buying, accumulating, accumulating, accumulating – we have no sense of proportion about either the possession of “stuff” or the acquisition of money. Businesses surely ought to be able to make profits, but they don’t have any realistic view of how much profit is enough profit.
And of course, so many people’s jobs, their very ability to provide for their families, is all wrapped up in ventures (such as construction) that can’t be done without loans based on the lender’s hope of future gain. You no doubt remember the potential scare last year about all the ships that might have wound up sitting in port, their cargoes of precious food rotting, because banks wouldn’t loan out money to get the food distributed to the stores because no one could guarantee said banks that they’d get a “good” return on their loans. Fortunately that problem did not occur, but it could have given our screwed up assumptions about money and economics in general.
And let’s not even start talking about loans and education. I am myself the willing recipient of Federal money to go to school, because all the schools are so stinking expensive that unless you get loans you might as well just forget any kind of higher education that will pay off in terms of an Official Piece of Paper that you can show prospective employers in order to get paid a better salary than you might otherwise. But in the meantime, just to get there you have to go into massive debt and contend with a mailbox that regularly gets stuffed with offers from credit card companies to go into even more debt so that while you’re in school you can have all the “stuff” that our culture incessantly preaches you need in order to have “the good life.” Lately I’ve had a “debt reduction” company calling me at home repeatedly, trying to get me to get a loan from them so that I can pay off my other loans, thus supposedly reducing my debts.
What a stinking mess.