The Silent Katrina [VIDEO x 2]

Danny Schechter calls Debt issue "a Crime Scene"
In the clips to the right, Danny Schechter talks about his new film "In Debt We Trust," zeroing in on the largely silent problem of Americans drowning in debt... Here's the opening of the Democracy Now! transcript...

DANNY SCHECHTER: What I tried to do in the film is link the stories of the victims, of the people who are suffering, of whom there are now millions in America. This is a new Katrina -- let's think of it that way -- a disaster affecting low-income people, but also increasingly middle-income people as the income divide in America grows. The housing crunch is now spilling over into other parts of our lives. $25,000 on average is what students leave college with with loans and debts. People are paying, in the last year, some $65 billion just in late fees and interest payments on credit cards. This is a kind of a vacuum cleaner into your pocket and taking your money and swinging it over into Wall Street so that Goldman Sachs can give out, you know, $16 billion Christmas gifts to its employees. It's blatant, it's obscene, and it's dramatic, and it's institutional. And this is what we have to realize.

We talk about financialization, which is like the loan and credit complex, very much like the military-industrial complex, that has emerged in this country, structured around big banks and credit card companies who are making large profits in the market and from us as consumers without very much scrutiny, in part because they spend $5 billion a year marketing. You watch the Super Bowl, you see all the great spots for Visa and MasterCard. They're pervasive in the media, and the media is not doing a very good job of offering analysis.

I mean, the sort of stories Juan has been doing in the Daily News, really going into the neighborhoods, very few and far between in what we see in our media about this problem. That's because America has shifted from a country that made things to a country that buys things. The factory used to be our icon of economic progress. Today, it’s the mall. And as a result, people are encouraged to shop ’til they drop: “We’ll lend you the money upfront.” And, of course, the piper has to be paid at the end of the day.

And that's why I made this film, because I began to realize, like, my savings was dribbling away. And, lo and behold, America's savings rate is at below 5%. In other words, nobody has savings anymore. It's almost like the recession or depression levels, and there are a lot of very serious people who are warning of a repression -- a recession, rather; we have a repression -- a recession, and worse, as a result of these trends. That's why this issue has to be one to be organized around. It's a struggle to try to get a film out that challenges really the center of power in America: financial power.

Read the whole thing HERE.
Evan Derkacz is an AlterNet editor. He writes and edits PEEK, the blog of blogs.
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