There’s a discussion at StopBuyingCrap about credit card companies’ evil tacticts. In fact, Cap comes clean with this humble admission:
No body forced me to buy the mountains of Japanese comic books, computer hardware, and automotive parts. Sure, the credit card made it easier for me to spend money I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have — but the reason why I spent frivolously was because I was a complete moron.
An anonymous commenter responded to Cap’s post:
Yes, personal responsibility is important. Many young people, however, have never been taught thing one about managing money. They simply donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t understand how it works. The companies take advantage of that. There are thousands of people who sit in their offices all day thinking up new ways to take advantage of that.
I tried to respond with my thoughts, but it was 3:45 am, so it didn’t come out completely the way I intended. So I’ll expand on this a bit.
This is an age-old debate. Whose fault is it that people go deeper into debt? Is it the young adult who lacks the basic math skills to understand the effects of compound interest? Perhaps it is the credit card companies whose marketing efforts, especially on college campuses, may be excessive? Can we turn to the primary and secondary school administrators who feel that money management cannot be shoved into an already-packed schedule? And then there are the parents, who perhaps fail to model appropriate behavior (implicit teaching) or explicitly teach their kids about handling money.
Obvisouly someone should be blamed when college students graduate with thousands of dollars in credit card debt, debt they have little to show for as it the money probably went to clothes that don’t last, food, entertainment, and status symbols that become old quickly.
I’ll pose this question to my readers before going any further. Who deserves all of the blame? If not all, who deserves most of it? Are the credit card companies and marketers evil when they prey on young “minds?” I touched this topic a while ago when I asked the question of the day, but now I want to know exactly what is wrong with society, where it fails, so we can fix the problem and move on.
Please share your opinion, and in a follow-up post, I’ll write a bit about what I believe, hopefully more coherently than how I commented on StopBuyingCrap.
Updated May 26, 2009 and originally published October 7, 2006.