by Dr Boyce Watkins
In an interview with NPR's Michel Martin, I explained how credit card companies are really financial drug dealers. While this comparison might initially seem out of the park, it is actually quite appropriate: Credit is like a drug: it makes you feel good, and it is difficult for most Americans to feel secure or comfortable without it. Also like a drug, credit can be abused. Americans are hooked on consumption and credit card companies are willing to serve us our drug to the point of financial ruin.
The difference between financial drugs and medical drugs is that most financial drugs are legal, no matter how harmful they might be. In 1979, Congress got rid of usury laws, allowing credit card companies to charge darn near any interest rate they wanted, any fee they felt applicable and any penalty they felt you deserved. In other words, the legalized financial drug dealers were allowed to run rampant and sell as much of their product as the addicts could consume.