The American Dream and Extended Credit

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Despite the recession and unemployment near 10 percent, Americans are still accumulating more debt. Solicitations for credit cards doubled last year. Lenders and retailers say the American Dream -- a big home, a big car and college — makes consumers willing to go into hock. They also see signs of "frugality fatigue." Others contend the law itself is rigged to favor indebtedness, with incentives that reward debt and discourage saving. Why are people spending money they don't have? Is it good for the economy? Is the government setting the right example?




Warren Olney