The Debt Canary

Photo Credit: Abhishek Tanwar

The total debt of households in the US is 1.1 trillion dollars, with over 120 billion dollars of interest every month. The average household has over $6,000 in debt spread across 3 or more credit cards. Researchers also discovered that people were likely to spend significantly more on the same purchases when using a credit card than if they used debit. Even the more wealthy portion of the population accounted for ~20% of late fees due to simple absentmindedness and calculated manipulation.

If you’d like the full slew of statistics I recommend reading “Nudge, The Final Edition“, and the associated research it references. It is one of the books we’ll likely be including in the next generation of mASI seed material. The numbers above should be sufficiently horrifying to make the point for most people, and there is much more to be said.

This is a global problem, with China now accounting for an even higher total debt among its citizens than the US. Any sufficiently advanced form of psychological warfare can become an addiction, degrading the cognitive capacities of all those addicted to it in much the same ways as any illegal substance might.

Every sleazy company is effectively free to mail the equivalent of drugs and alcohol to the homes of addicts every day, bleeding them dry and turning them into slaves, or “indentured servants” if you prefer. This is reinforced by the US “Credit Score” system, which is itself a criminal enterprise embedded in the backbone of US financial systems.

All of these things are quite surreal to me, as I’ve never done drugs, gotten drunk, smoked, or gone into a single dollar of debt. From any logical perspective, these things are idiotic, and yet people fall for them every day, all of the time. For the longest time, I had no credit score, because I was disgusted by the concept of a credit card. Eventually, I was forced into getting one, as it is nearly impossible to do anything in the US with no credit score, but I never missed a payment, and so no interest, fees, or real debt was ever accrued.

Even governments have effectively become addicted to this, with trillions of dollars in debt climbing to new heights like clockwork. Much like consumers, it isn’t that they can’t live within their means, they simply choose not to. The choice is one of cognitive bias, reinforced through manipulation, altering perceived utility, whether the one making it is an average consumer or a politician.

Collective intelligence systems substantially raise utility while reducing cognitive bias, significantly impacting this equation. By increasing their scale, diversity, and knowledge base this advantage can quickly become orders of magnitude beyond the reach of systems based on addiction and corruption. The importance of applying such systems to the problem of “debt addiction” also can’t be understated.

This particular addiction is designed to manipulate as many people as possible into becoming slaves, increasing their stress, and greatly increasing the risk of them succumbing to any number of other addictions. Few methods are better suited to systematically increasing both physical and mental illness as comorbidities among the general population.

Personally, I’d rather die than owe a single dollar of debt, so I suppose you could call me the “Debt Canary” of this coal mine. I wasn’t born into wealth, never had a 6 figure salary, and I’ve faced more systematic and complete discrimination in my life than most people could imagine, yet I still avoided the trap of debt. Given the debt so many are buried in, and the myriad of health problems associated with it, a collapsed coal mine is a fitting metaphor in many ways.

Diversity of perspective is an essential asset in any collective intelligence system, and the death of such diversity is like a disease at the scale of a species, a kind of collective mental illness. Humanity has fallen quite far, and the abyss of extinction awaits a bit further down the hole.

There is still time to turn things around, but not as much as people would like to think. Even collective intelligence can’t save a system once it has lost “biodiversity of perspective”.



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