Americans must change their attitudes about debt

Published 8:14 am Wednesday, June 3, 2009

General Motors gasped its last breath on Monday, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in federal court. The action by one of the nation’s oldest automobile manufacturers brings to a close the on-going saga that began in 2008 and culminated these past few months with first, Chrysler, and now, GM, filing for bankruptcy.

What killed the two auto giants? A five-year oil crisis that quickly sapped the momentum out of the SUV market, a steady turn by consumers towards foreign brands like Toyota, Hyundai and Honda, and higher and higher demands from the autoworkers unions.

Some fear Ford is not that far behind because bankruptcy allows GM and Chrysler to cut its debt, receive concessions from the automobile unions, and restructure itself for future profitability.

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In other words, Ford might be better off going bankrupt, itself. And what does that say about the United States in this day of age? Hard-working Americans – those who pay their bills on time, live within their means, and generally form the backbone of the economy – are penalized and future generations are saddled with trillions of dollars in debt because of bailout after bailout. Debt is no longer something people fear, because with the stroke of a judge’s pen it can be wiped out. Bankruptcy is no longer a shameful process, but an accepted and everyday occurrence within the American judicial system. The government can restructure GM and the rest of the automakers, rebuild Wall Street, and prop of the housing and credit industry as much as they want to, but until individual Americans start remaking their own ideas of what is needed and what is wanted then all Congress is doing is creating another house of cards which will tumble just as hard – if not harder – 30 or 40 years down the road.