In which I get on track and blog a total of seven movies…
I made the mistake of watching Maxed Out right before going to bed. I don’t know why I didn’t assume I’d be angry and anxious–and unable to sleep–after viewing it. After watching it, I’m officially naming August “Financial Aneurysm Month.” A while back it was food (un)safety. Lately, though, I’ve been feeling like I (as well as most of the people I know) am a couple of steps away from financial destitution. And the cards, for all of us, are stacked in destitution’s favor.
Before I get too ahead of myself, the film explores the explosion of credit and the failure of the government to regulate it. Reminds me of the tagline for another movie I’m going to blog, Chinatown: “As little as possible.” Seems to be what the government is doing in all matters domestic, but allowing the banking industry the kind of freedom from regulation that they have is unconscionable. The film goes beyond individual financial woes, however, to show that a government that, itself, operates on credit has already bought into the ideology. We all know that credit isn’t a good thing, and the intelligent–and capable–ones among us do all we can to avoid it, but sometimes you just can’t. And the system is rigged that way.
Here are a few things I learned from the docko:
- The average American has over $9,000 in credit card debt. And I haven’t seen a card that offers lower than a 14% APR. It’s much higher if you have any debt. You don’t even need to do the math to see the problem here.
- About those check-cashing firms: regular banks own them. In fact, banks make the most money off of their poorest customers. And race is, most certainly, a factor for banks.
- Pawn shops are basically banks, too. At least people use them that way.
- Not a new idea, but the film reinforced the fact that there is really no such thing as “business ethics.” An oxymoron, really.
Now I don’t ever want to buy a house. Or, if I do, I’ll have at least 20% of the cost as a down payment. Which should happen in about…128 years.
There’s a lot more to say about the film and the causes of Americans’ credit woes, but I have to stop now, as I’m again feeling the way I did the night before last when I watched the thing. And if this couldn’t sound more boring to you, then you should definitely watch it: it’s good for you, like fiber and history.