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In Debt We Trust
In Debt We Trust
Director: Danny Schechter
Genres: Documentary
NR     2007     1hr 38min

Just a few decades ago, owing more money than you had in your bank account was the exception, not the rule. Yet, in the last 10 years, consumer debt has doubled and, for the first time, Americans are spending more than...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Director: Danny Schechter
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Documentary
Studio: Disinformation
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 04/24/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 38min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Borrow now, pay later - an American way of life
Kyle Tolle | Phoenix, Arizona USA | 06/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Americans spend more money than they make and that's the modern trend in today's society. This stems from the fact that it is so convenient to live this way but it is also a progressive danger to consumers and the economy.
The public faces a daily barrage of advertisements for credit cards and lending options and it filters down to everyone in all walks of life. In 2005 alone, the top 10 credit card companies spent over 2 billion dollars in advertising.

Commercials have been shown to use subtle and creative messages to tap into your subconscious desire to spend money but no attempts are made to educate individuals about any fiscal responsibilities. The situation is even worse when you realize that many companies have inflated interest rates, they overcharge on late fees, and some often misappropriate confidential consumer information such as you personal credit history.

Looking at the dilemma of this debt crisis begs the question of what is going wrong. A big element is the fact that rising costs of healthcare, housing, education, and consumer goods hurts so many and credit and lending play a significant part here. The federal government is another factor that does not favor the consumer and hurts you more than it helps. Recent bankruptcy reform initiated by President Bush now makes it more difficult for persons to file bankruptcy and recover from financial hardship. Powerful lobbyists in Washington are very influential in helping to manipulate fiscal policies and financial institutions are the number one contributors to political campaigns.

There really isn't any happy ending in sight to this widespread problem but there is a growing light at the end of the tunnel. Consumer advocate groups are becoming more prominent nowadays and their attempts at debt education and awareness are steadily working their way into mainstream society. Any type of help whatsoever is productive and necessary for everyone affected and this keeps the hope alive that we can eventually make significant progress in overcoming our huge dependency on borrowed money and credit.

`In Debt We Trust' really appealed to me because it was quite comprehensive in how much material it covered and because it was presented in an easy to understand and straightforward manner. For informational and educational purposes, I would seriously recommend this documentary to everyone.
"
A problem for all of us...
Timothy P. Scanlon | Hyattsville, MDUSA | 12/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"About 2/3 through this film, the director, Danny Schecter, talks about the predatory and devestating effects of the "subprime" lending formula. As that has become an issue of late, you might see the film as a prophecy, and a sign the the bubble is, indeed, bursting.

I feel compelled to point out that a few 1-star reviewers saw this DVD as an indictment of Bush. Those people either didn't see it or had such a pro-Bush bias that they didn't hear Schecter and those he interviewed repeatedly saying that it pervades both parties!

And another important reflection: the standard line when credit issues come up is something those of us allegedly on "the left" ignore, i.e., individual responsibility. Did you really have to buy that flat screen TV? I won't deny that, but nor will I deny that the very basis of our whole economic culture is CONSUMPTION. That stuff is shoved down our throats all the time. Indeed, if people would refrain from that sort of consumption, the US economy would fall apart in a week. So there are two sides to that as well. In fact, there is a portion of the film which describes stores in the "low income neighborhoods of color" in NYC which have "rent to own" shops where people will end up paying $750 for a television they could get for $195 at a mall. What's more, it doesn't do us much good to ignore individual responsibility, but why not acknowledge the responsibility of those pressing and making the loans--off of which they're making obscene profits--too! Or are they responsible for nothing?

The film begins with a Baptist congregation in Norfolk, VA where the congregation helps out members who've gone bankrupt. They bail out that person and decry being in debt. The story continues in chapters, based on who's going bankrupt (including actress Lorraine Bracco of "The Sopranos." What? A movie star can go broke??) and why.

It covers the predatory companies. Ironic, I just saw it ten minutes ago and am still processing the whole concept. I guess I relate to it as I've been saying the same thing for a long time. When I went overseas as a professional 30 years ago, my boss did not qualify for a credit card (so, needless to say, nor did I). I was in my 30s when I got my first credit card. When I moved to the area where I live now and got a job at the national HQ of an association, a colleague of mine joked that his high school son got junk mail for credit cards daily. That's how "easy" it was/is to get credit. The film too discusses with young people the debt they've incurred because of such cards. (One young woman had spent the last nine years paying off half her $16,000 in credit card bills, and felt it'd take her as much to pay off the next half. In the meantime, there are credit companies galore giving credit cards to freshman at a Rochester, NY institution).

And credit cards aren't the only culprits. The film went over tax deals, in which people are given loans at an outrageous rate as an advance on their tax return, the "rent to own" shops like I referred to above, again, the subprime loan rates, any number of means that the wealthy will make a lot of money off the shrinking middle class.

Again, back to the "nonpartisanship," there's a portion of the film in which a conservative radio talk show host sponsors a seminar on cutting up credit cards. So it's not a conservative bashing story at all.

Toward the end of the film, you might say it ends with a "metaphor." A helicopter with a number of executives of one of the larger credit predators in the US went down in the East River in NY. The executives were rescued, but one of those scholars being interviewed said that, while he wouldn't wish such a disaster on anyone, in effect, they may have "had it coming" more than anyone else. Then the film returns to the congregation in Norfolk because that's the home of a large naval base. And even troops and sailors returning from Iraq are being victimized by the 26 or so shops that give the returning troops instant money so they don't have to wait for their paychecks. But that money comes at a BIG price, still another dimension of the credit industry. (Some are taking out one loan to pay off the last, time and time again!)

Overall, I think it's important that people, young and not so young, see this film. What I wish it had stressed more is that it's not just consumption of the frivolous that puts many of us in debt. It's also unforseen medical expenses and the type of bills we can't avoid that are also driving many of us into the foreclosures and bankruptcies which were the real subject of the film. I mean, that was covered, but needed to have been stressed more.

Overall, though, Danny, thanks. We needed to see this."
Go Danny Go!
Bonnie | East Coast,United States | 07/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Keep up the good work Danny!
I hope you do another documentary on this ever expanding problem.
Reward cards are something that need looking at more closely.
Who is actually paying these "rewards". It's the merchant fees that we all pay for whether we use credit cards or not! Fact is, many people can't use a reward card or simply don't want to deal with greedy credit card co's and their long list of dirty tricks and yet they don't get a discount when they pay cash because everywhere you go, they take credit cards. And that means merchant fees that we all pay in the form of higher prices! And these card co's have it set up so the merchants can't give a lower price for cash customers! It's outrageous!
And I hope you do more about debt buyers. It's insane these co's can buy debt for pennies on the dollar and then pile on more interest. Interest is supposed to be charged for money borrowed! Nobody borrowed money from a debt buyer and yet they can charge interest! It doesn't make any sense to put someone in debt further.
And last but not least, these predators who flood the mailboxes of the newly bankrupt should not be allowed to send them any mail for at least ten years. That is the amount of time bankruptcy remains on someones credit report. If the newly bankrupt want to get back in the credit card game, then let them find these cos. There should be a law that these co's with their dreadful offers not be allowed to send offers to those who have just gotten out of bankruptcy. Unfortunatly, some will not understand these offers or will be desperate. They are nothing but a trap wrapped in envelopes with seductive message like "we want to help you re establish your credit" or "you deserve a second chance". Those who have filed bankruptcy have gotten a second chance and these predators only want a second chance at ripping them off and putting them in debtors prison again! These co's will even extend credit to people living below the poverty line!!

"
Great DVD for a high school classroom
Vickie Beene Beavers | Atlanta, Ga. United States | 09/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Every senior in high school and freshmen in college should watch this film! It lays out the important issue of personal finance very clear. At some point, young adults will see how important maintaining good credit, mastering a budget and committing to saving will pay off--for good or for bad."