Beliefnet
Everyday Ethics

So I’m sitting at home watching President Obama’s Town Hall speech about credit card debt. Having just spent half the morning on the phone dealing with my credit card company, trying to get my card information straightened out, I’m fed up enough with these people. Seems they feel they have the right to make changes to my card without notice (or with notice in such tiny print that even my 20/20 eyes can’t read it).

Is that ethical? 
Clearly, a lot of people think “not so much”, since there’s a big government push to clean up predatory or deceptive lending practices. I’m just fine with this. In fact, hooray!
However, I do feel that, when it comes to credit and debt, there’s plenty of responsibility to share around…


I was raised by parents who believed you simply never carry a balance. You always pay in full, every month. Great, in theory. But what if you want to buy a car? What if you have a medical emergency? What if you thought you’d be able to pay your balance, but you suddenly lost your job in this terrible economy?

Muddier areas, for sure. 
It seems like it’s easy to either blame the big companies for squeezing the little guy, or get on one’s high horse and sniff that everyone should live within their means, all the time. Personally, I do feel it’s hugely important to take personal responsibility for our debts and maintain good credit. Where the corporate sleaze comes in is with the switcheroos these credit card companies seem to feel free to pull–changing the rules whenever it’s convenient for them. Because they have us by the you-know-whats, we have no recourse (except, I suppose, to rely on our sometimes functional U.S. Congress) but to try to keep up with ever-increasing interest payments. Scary times.
Where do you think the responsibility primarily lies when it comes to credit card debt? 
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