We have more of everything as each day passes; whether we can afford all the inanimate objects is another matter! So the obvious corollary is debt! Luxuries are converted into necessities with the change in our value systems. The latest come with pizzazz and marketing blitz and the young, especially, latch on to them as a matter of right and to keep up with the trends. We are going into virgin territory like the children in the legend, the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Once we are led more by glitz than reason, our lives go downhill. No more the wise old ways of avoiding credit for a contented life. The marketing pitch is too alluring, even to lure the contented to forsake their principles and jump into the fray. Those who refuse to join the mad frenzy are easily sidelined and termed as losers.
The whole world is now a free market and the governments are powerless to enforce strict codes to prevent the fallible from accumulating debts. It boils down to personal choice. When there is a willing buyer and seller, no government wants step-in to prevent people from exercising their freedom of choice, to spend their money in the way they like to. The real problems come to the fore when debts are accumulated and the borrower and then the lender get burned. The excesses of the system make our lives complicated with no winners, except perhaps the marketing whiz kids who lead others down the garden path!
The present world equation reflects the plight of individuals, businesses and even countries that are in dire straits due to unbridled consumerism. The life of simplicity has been transformed into one of feeding frenzy. The fall-outs are even borne by the innocents, who kept out of the mad frenzy. When the governments bailout many institutions classified as “too big to fail”, obviously the costs thereof are apportioned among all. Even the solutions have to be stitched together in a hurry to prevent total collapse of the system. The patchworks threaten to unravel, like they do now, with our leaders putting out the fires all the time!
Unbridled credit has been the root cause of the crisis of confidence and the resultant excesses everywhere. Earlier times, borrowing was resorted to only in extreme cases and the lender was never in a hurry to extend the credit; he took all care to get repaid, as he took the risk upon himself. Now, the bigger institutions vie with one another to get the best returns, also consumer goods manufacturers tie-up with lenders to market their goods; and the risk factor is no more on them. The ultimate burden falls on the hapless consumer who cannot exercise wise judgment in the face of all-out persuasion to part with his money, or rather, borrow to the hilt to buy even goods that he might not require.
Are we not party to the whole excesses committed for getting instant gratification without much thought over the price the society has to pay in the end. Gone are the days, wealth was accumulated for rainy days. With pliable policies and made to order economic policies, the fear factor of total collapse of the system has receded. The Great depression of 1930s is a distant memory, and we feel it is unlikely to be repeated. We are lulled into a false sense of security that everything will pan out in the end, and it will be business as usual soon. But the whole canvas of the economic order shows increased strains of over-extension, threatening to give way, plunging us all into great depths anytime!
We are going overboard and make our lives complicated with none having the clout to call for order. The leaders are running from pillar to post to fix the endless issues, blaming others but refusing to accept, correct and shoulder the blame. Why be left behind, as the fall-outs will not result in much damage – could be the refrain. Where we stand in the whole scheme of world economic order, how will debtor countries meet their obligations when the situations are getting worse by the day – are not clearly addressed. America feels the blame is with China for not revaluing their currency, while China feels they cannot be pressurized to take action. The problems are getting more acute by the day; the root cause due to the excesses of consumerism, credit extended without much thought over the ability to repay. We complicate our lives by looking for an easy life, without the will to work and earn the rewards. The issues will just stay and get compounded till better sense prevails all around!