Debt—The New Form of Slavery

By Wiha Powell

Whether it is the national debt, mortgages, student loans, credit cards or auto loans, America has become a society of debt and the American people are drowning in it. The average American, even after the recession, still treads dangerous waters. The majority are no longer working towards achieving a better life; instead, they are struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. The American dream no longer exists. It has been replaced by a whip known as the American nightmare.

According to a recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, as of Dec. 31, 2012, the total consumer indebtedness is $11.34 trillion, 0.3% higher than the previous quarter. The largest component of household debt is mortgages, which stands at $8.03 trillion. Student loans, the second largest, stands at $1 trillion followed by credit cards and auto loan debts.

One of the major problems many Americans are facing is the issue of consumerism not consumption. Consumption mainly focuses on basic human needs, such as safety, shelter, food, clothing, health care and education. Consumerism, on the other hand, is a social and economic order that encourages the purchase of goods and services in great amount. Basically, the American society has become obsessed with acquisition. Constantly acquiring more goods and services is the only way to scratch the itch. Many Americans are given a significant amount of purchasing power to buy more using credit cards and other lines of credit. This obsession (consumerism) has become a social disease within our society that results in drowning debt.

Consumerism also causes one to spend more than what is earned, resulting in many not having enough saved or barely keeping up with monthly expenses. As grandma would say “save for a rainy day;” but faced with such a huge debt, most Americans either do not have enough money stashed away or a penny saved for emergencies. In these tough economic times, many Americans are more focused on staying afloat than saving.

The sad truth is that debt slavery has become a way of life for millions of Americans. Currently, most people are either getting into

more debt or trying to pay off the debt that has already consumed their lives, resulting in many finances to be dominated by debt. According to Sentier Research, the median household income dropped from $51,994 in January 2013, to $51,404 in February 2013, while the median household debt continues to rise. According to the US Census Bureau the median household debt is $70,000, which amounts to 69% of household families having some form of debt.

For decades, American consumers have run up an ever-increasing debt causing many to be trapped in debt slavery.  We have grown accustomed to financing purchases with credit cards or other lines of credit; leaving many to toil and labor for years in an attempt to pay off those debts. But as Former Congressman Traficant stated “90 percent of all Americans are mortgaged to the hilt, and would have little or no assets left if all debts and liabilities were to be paid”. So, what possible solution can there be for a society that strives on putting its citizens in debt?


One thought on “Debt—The New Form of Slavery

  1. This is a true refletion of the deep impacts of debt on ordinary citizens of USA.One of the ways to getr rid of this debt slavery would be to to promote the advantages of simple living,carrying out expenditures commensurating with one’s income,overcoming temptation of “consumerism” in favour of “consumption” and promoting a culture of savings, as per the “Grnd Ma’s advice.Such practice if done in letter and spirit may lead to shedding away the debt slavery by majority of US citizens.
    Nadeem Khan ,Pakistan


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