Debt, Credit, & Austerity

Many policy and advocacy groups focus on an array of challenges to political and economic power and racial justice in many contexts—housing, public health, many arenas of policy, transportation, and more. The Debt, Credit, & Austerity project promotes a popular understanding and alignment across these groups by focusing on debt and credit as it underpins so many critical levers of opportunity and equity. 

In the absence of wages and widespread economic austerity, day-to-day life and health expenses are ‘consumption’ and financed through debt. We now live under debt-based economic practices. We know with a great level of detail the absence of wage growth to meet the increasing costs of day-to-day life. We are aware of the economic principles of this reality and we can experience this personally. 

Othered people are exiled from access to credit/debt or disproportionately burdened and exploited by it. To shift away from predatory and unfair credit/debt, we have to think about economic growth in an inclusive way. Public and individual credit/debt can either alienate or embrace people and places. Its direction and effects are a consequence of disproportionate corporate political and economic power. Rethinking credit/debt systems is an exercise of inclusivity and resolving inequality in political as well as economic power.

To change systems of credit and debt and to understand them clearly is imperative for inclusive, transformative change. Indeed household, individual, local, and federal use of credit and debt can be an exceptionally powerful tool of economic advantage and wealth. Too often, the history of credit and debt has been shaped alongside systemic neglect of othered people and the places where they live. As we rethink economic growth and credit/debt we cannot proceed with colorblind economic thinking and practices. Inclusivity has to be taken into consideration along with these key ingredients of the economy.

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  • Student Debt, Equity, & Research Paths, 9-10 June 2016 (Washington DC) convening