Now many people are under the false impression that being able to indulge in retail therapy or have an endless variety of shopping options represents the hallmark of freedom of choice and modernization. However, this is far from the truth. Many have succumbed to the weight of peer pressure, celebrity life culture or sheer vanity and as a result, have landed themselves in huge debt, all in the name of living in comfort. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements in our public transport, on the streets, through the radios and television and through our phones. Ultimately, these advertising companies hope to linger in the subconscious of the consumer long enough such that the minute they are ready to purchase something, the brand(s) will be the first among many that they will recall to mind. To add to the debilitating problem of living beyond one’s means, we have also seen an upsurge in reality TV shows which celebrate glamour, fashion and expensive tastes as much as they do scandal, sensationalism and conflict. With the likes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, America’s Next Top Model and Real Housewives, many viewers are not only enjoying the volatility and madness that they see on screen but also subconsciously taking note of what is trendy, in style and high fashion, with the aim of also following suit. Furthermore, our family and festive occasions have been turned into a shopping orgy. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day etc. have had all their inherent sentimental value stripped back so significantly that it is commonplace to expect gifts, presents or some tangible award on these occasions. Nowadays, it is tantamount to blasphemy to have Christmas without gifts and the notion of Santa Claus delivering presents to children not only reinforces this concept but also does nothing to remove the strain of spending borne by families.
Low Self-Esteem Is Big Business
Furthermore, isn’t it interesting how businesses not only capitalise on our vanity and/or laziness but also our low self-esteem? The proliferation of products to mask our unattractive bulges, uneven skin tones, brittle and thin hair or improve on what society has convinced us to be very ordinary and unappealing appearances have seen many consumers dig even deeper into their pockets for temporary fixes. In fact, the more insecure an individual in their looks and how they feel about themselves, the more likely they are to swell the pockets of these big business tycoons. However, none of this would be made possible if there wasn’t an equally steady proliferation of loans and credit cards. In this interesting article titled ‘Why There Is So Much Debt’ (http://positivemoney.org/issues/debt/), the following was highlighted:
Most of money in the UK is created by banks when they make loans. The only way to get extra money into the economy is to borrow it from banks, leaving us all trapped under a mountain of personal debt and mortgages.
When you take out a loan, new money is created. As people borrow more, more new money comes into the economy. All the extra spending this newly created money funds gives people the impression the economy is doing well, which encourages them to borrow even more. As the debt goes up, so does the amount of money.
It’s A Trap
Many people and families have been lured into this false sense of financial security because they have credit readily available at their fingertips. Therefore, they assume that they have an added touch of freedom to live as they please. Whilst this may be true in some respects, it only takes a bout of serious illness, the birth of a child, another wave of recession, a car accident etc. to convert an initially picturesque life into a life plagued with financial difficulties. In addition to this, the joy from retail therapy is often short-lived and we are ultimately left with the glaring reality that we will have to suffer for some months (or even years) just because of some momentary indulgence. These are the circumstances which benefit credit card companies, loan companies and banks the most. It isn’t normal to have to work several jobs to pay back debts and it is unacceptable when credit cards and loans have to be used so that an individual can break even. People are unknowingly becoming slaves to capitalism and are being hoodwinked by the glitz, glamour and appeal of living frivolously. Whilst we envy each other for possessions, social standing and appearances, we lose sight of the fact that we are digging ourselves into considerable debt in order to chase fleeting moments of satisfaction. We think we are doing well when we can get that designer bag or luxury car, not realising that the debt we’ve created for ourselves has financed another villa for a millionaire further up on the financial food chain.
I could go on to talk about mortgages and even pensions. However, I trust that with this and all the previous articles, you’ll believe me when I say, this ‘system’ was built to keep us in debt.
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