Sunday, January 2, 2011

In Debt We Trust... A Review

I made a point of taking some financial related reading material out of the library to start the year with a little while back. This included a dvd, which I forgot has a shorter rental period than books. Long story short, I'd rather not be paying unnecessary late fees, so I popped it in yesterday evening.

I found Danny Schechter's style to be a lot like Michael Moore's: brief, shocking, and most often lacking in depth. The music was gimmicky and the video was at times hard on the eyes, especially watching it on a laptop. That being said, he touched on some sticky subjects at a time when not enough people were listening for their own good. The copyright on the disk said 2006, and the box says 2007; either way it predicted the credit and housing bubbles before they actually popped.

Danny hopped around touching multiple subjects, ranging from lack of student financial education to predatory lending to capitol hill lobbying to bankruptcy laws. It's more of an eye opener than a financial education. It would have been nice if he had pointed to some places people could educate themselves on the details, rather than just pointing out people didn't have the education. Still, it's good to have your eyes opened from time to time.

One of the scenes that stuck with me throughout the video occurred close to the beginning on a university campus. A new university undergrad asks a credit card pusher what the interest rate on the credit card he's considering applying for is going to be. The credit card pusher says she doesn't know. Seriously? You're convincing kids to make financial decisions and not giving them the proper tools to do it? I know that credit card companies aren't exactly forthcoming with their fees, but that was considerably more blatant than I'm used to. This video is full of slap you in the face scenes and statistics, ranging from the fact that personal debt had more than doubled over the course of the last 10 years (from the time the video was made), to the calculation of interest rates on title loans, to the amount of money lobbyists put into getting capitol hill to change the bankruptcy laws. You'll notice I'm mentioning capitol hill; this video is American based, and does not touch on things happening in the rest of the world (though the credit crisis is applicable to most of us).

In my personal (non-professional) opinion, if you have a financial education, you can skip over this movie. It's a good eye opener for people that a financial education is needed, and that you can't blindly trust that banks and credit card companies care about your interests. They are businesses, and businesses need to make money. They make money off of you and me. Lots of it.


No comments: