In a column from this month's Atlantic, Virginia Postrel argues that the anxiety over indebted Americans is nothing new, and not necessarily something we need to worry about. She notes that as far back as 1920 newspapers and social scientists were decrying easy credit. Postrel says that debt has indeed increased, but she believes, "The expansion of consumer credit is one of the great economic achievements of the past century." The figure of $10,000 per family is greatly exaggerated, averaging in customers like Cindy McCain, who ran up a $200,000 AmEx bill last month she probably can afford to pay. And credit cards are cheaper than payday loans or pawn shops, once the only resources of those living check to check. "Forms of credit may change," writes Postrel, "but credit anxiety, alas, does not."
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