“The tie that binds the 99% is that we’re all in debt… debt is the way that Wall Street occupies our lives” — Alexis Goldstein
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This quote from Alexis Goldstein suggests that widespread consumer debt, student loan debt, mortgage debt, and other financial obligations are a means by which the financial sector exerts influence over many Americans’ lives and priorities. Some key points in interpreting her perspective:
- Goldstein implies that being indebted, through mechanisms like credit cards and loans, makes people more dependent on continued economic growth and employment to make payments.
- She portrays this debt dependence as a way the financial industry is able to “occupy” people’s lives and exert control over broader society by creating a creditor-debtor relationship.
- However, reasonable experts also note that some debt, like low-interest student loans or mortgages, can enable important goals for some individuals if the terms are suitable and the debt is managed responsibly.
- A balanced interpretation is that while Goldstein aims to critique what she views as overreliance on debt, prudent personal finance requires moderation – neither excessive debt nor a complete avoidance of debt optimize well-being for all, as circumstances and priorities vary significantly between individuals.
Overall, the quote conveys Goldstein’s perspective that pervasive consumer debt obligations compromise individuals’ autonomy and security. But the best analysis considers this viewpoint alongside others, recognizing that responsible use of credit combined with emergency savings works for some, while debt avoidance suits other temperaments and situations equally well according to personal risk tolerance, priorities and changing needs over the lifetime. Multiple reasonable viewpoints exist in ongoing discussions of these complex topics.
— The Real Timers (@RealTimers) June 13, 2015