Today was an interesting day with Jehangir and Willmon at NYC to celebrate Jehangir’s birthday with a screening of “Maxed Out”, a documentary about credit card debt, and dinner’s at Bar 6 around Greenwich Village.
We originally were going into the right direction but wound up going downtown and west due to wrong directions. Ironically, we made it to Cinema Village around 3:15 to get our tickets for the 5:05 screening. Once we got our tickets we went to take a walk around Union Square and spent time looking around the Strand Bookstore. It was an interesting experience going to Strand under better circumstances, and I was glad Bill introduced me to this bookstore. The selections are expansive with a variety of used and new books and we nearly lost track of time searching for books of interest. Fortunately, I was able to purchase Naomi Klein’s No Logo for a discount before we left for the movies.
The Cinema Village is actually a very small art house with a theatre with just enough seating for 20-30 people per screen. One thing that did strike me in addition to the low seating was the movie immediately started without any trailers.
“Maxed Out” was a very disturbing documentary about how credit card companies are able to trick people into becoming indebted to them, the rise of debt brokers and collection agencies that feed off people’s misery, the rising suicides associated with unpayable debts, the amount of inaccuracies in every person’s credit report, the government’s collusion with the major banks to perpetuate these problems, and the looming national debt that will eventually bring the burden to all Americans. Some of the more disturbing aspects of this film was Citibank tricking a mentally retarded man into signing agreements to receive high-interest loans, the Bush Administration appointing board members of major creditors into positions in the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, and how the government has spent all the Social Security Funds set aside for our generation to pay off interest on the national debt.
Other disturbing points are that banks depend on the low-income, uneducated, and bankrupt debtors as their core source of income, they do not wish to educate their customers on financial responsibility, and they target college students because of their general ignorance in personal finance. Several key clips show the irony of the working class complaining about laws helping bankrupt debtors without realising that those laws were originally designed to protect them, how an Iraq War Veteran still went into personal bankruptcy because the government didn’t pay him enough money while the PMCs got financial security for doing less than him, and stories of college students who committed suicide to escape debt still receiving credit card offers from companies that killed them.
There are those who would not care about these people because they feel that those individual made poor choices that got them there in the first place. Some points the film made were that Americans are falling into this cycle of financial slavery because they were not properly educated, the Bush Administration is colluding with the banks to make it easier to collect debt from individuals, and eventually we will all pay for all of these debts because America is also conducting the same dangerous behaviour as some people shown on the documentary. Jehangir also added that China plans to sell off the bulk of their US bonds in the near future to raise cash, which will enrich China and astronomically increase the interest rates and tax burden on Americans. This film is recommended and is blu-ray worthy.
After that we went to Bar 6, which is Moroccan owned restaurant that serves food that appeals to sophisticated college students from surrounding colleges such as NYU, Yeshiva, Parsons, New University to name a few, and young professionals who live around Chelsea or Greenwich Village. The food was great and we got to talk about plans for an Asian vacation to float around.