This problem is further compounded with a high degree of consumerism which is prevalent in the U.S. A good percentage of Americans try to live above their means, be it the car they buy or even the house. This has lead to some very creative debt instruments which they can tap into. If just the minimum payment of a credit card it made every month, the card will not be paid for over thirty years. Then there are housing loans which have a Interest only payment option, which means the home owner has the option of paying only the Interest every month and the principle balance never gets reduced and since most use this option on a frequent basis, the balance on the debt remains at close to the initial level. And in the past few years, a new debt instrument has come up which actually allows debtors to pay less than the interest amount , which means that the principle balance can actually go up. How does this impact anybody wanting to take a loan to buy something Let us suppose a person can afford a payment of $ 1000 a month towards his house. In a normal loan he possibly could afford a $100,000 house, If he chooses the Principal only option, he could possibly go as high as a $ 150,000 house , a negative amortized loan could get him as much as a $ 200,000 house. American consumers owed a grand total of $1.9773 trillion in October 2003, according to the latest statistics on consumer credit from the Federal Reserve. Thats about $18,654 per household, a figure that does not include mortgage debt. The number is up more than 41% from the $1.3999 trillion consumers owed in 1998.i The Mortgage Debt is about 25 trillion.
The figures become even more staggering when you see that 43% of the Americans spend more than they earn each year. These Americans are like the bound prisoners in the Plato's Allegory of a caveii. They see only way to prosperity and that is through accumulation of debt. And that is because they see their neighbors in affluence, little knowing that it hides, most likely a horrendous amount of debt. But these people do not simply know any other way. And the current subprime crisis in the U.S. Mortgage market is because of just such people just wanting to live beyond their means and paying the penalty for that by losing their houses and the very affluence which they wanted. But as much as Plato's Allegory showed the dark side of Human conditioning, Jacob Bronowski's The Reach of Imagination showed us the amazing gift which we have which is the gift of imagination iii Almost everything that we do that is worth doing is done in the first place in the mind's eye. The richness of human life is that we have many lives: we live the events that do not happen (and some that cannot) as vividly as those that do. Which actually gives us a unique advantage, we do not have to stuck in any rut, we have myriads of possibilities available to us. And even in an apparently hopeless situation such as overwhelming debt we have many possibilities available to us. In Asimov's Eureka phenomenon there is a reference to intuition as a sense of something beyond that which is evidentiv. These papers and theory's were written well before anybody saw the current debt crisis which the Americans find themselves in. And the apparent hopelessness could never be visualized by anyone before this crisis. But this situation is not hopeless and that is because the creativity of the human mind is such that it can get solutions to a problem , however big it might be.
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