Guest Post: Unleashing the Future: Advancing Prosperity Through Debt Forgiveness (Part 2)

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Zeus Yiamouyiannis, from Of Two Minds

Unleashing the Future: Advancing Prosperity Through Debt Forgiveness (Part 2)  

PART 2: Facing forward: Examining generational, historical, and psychological drivers of debt

The demand for credit and debt is driven by generational values, historical habits, and psychological desires. These in turn are premised on evolving notions of the good life. If someone thinks material consumption equates with the good life, then chances are that person will get much farther into debt than another person that values non-material staples as supporting the good life— i.e. family, community, and friendship. Where you put your energy and money communicates something strong about the person you are and the way you will interact with the world.

American baby boomers were born into a world of cheap oil, plentiful jobs, and expansionary foreign policy and were raised by Depression-era parents that wanted to give them the amenities that they never had the chance to enjoy. This engrained an historical sense that physical growth was unlimited and that the “world was there for me”.

Today’s so-called Millennials (children of baby boomers) are growing up in a starkly different world of peak oil, global warming, shrinking jobs, and diminished material standard of living, but one with unprecedented interconnection. Material opportunities are contracting, but social opportunities are expanding. The new motto emerging is more like: “We are in the world and for each other.” A collapse of material prosperity has given way to the increasing possibility of experiential and social richness.

Consequently, there has been a huge shift in attitudes about the “good life” between generations, largely unnoticed and unreported in traditional media. Only the symptoms of this shift are being reported—social media revolutions, Arab Spring, the Occupy Wall Street movement, young popular dissident authors in China, and pop-driven musical critique of conservative fundamentalism in Pakistan.

The motivating underlying philosophy for younger generations, has not been effectively brought to light. Around the world there has been a coalescing of youth around active principles of liberation, opportunity, and creativity energized through fulfilling experience and application as the currency of the good life. This stands in contrast to older generations where possession was the ideological linchpin of the good life, driven by desires for security, entitlements, and predictability.

This has enormous implications for the world economy and each generation’s relationship with debt. Younger generations don’t want to own things as much as they want to be able to access them and use them (think “shareware”). As a result non-material goods (relationships) or quasi-material goods (access to the internet) are gaining greater importance than material goods (huge LCD TVs).

According to the prevalent thinking of many young people, useful debt leverages utility around experience and development, more than the acquisition of material goods. Credit should be used as an investment to expand experiential personal and interpersonal growth opportunities that pay different kinds of dividends, whether a job (money to do other things), education (learning), travel (diversity), a peak experience (enjoyment), or funded time as a volunteer (service). The focus is not on the “thing” but its “use.”

“Use value” vs. “thing value”

This “use value” focus of youth is in many fundamental ways incompatible with “thing value” assumptions of previous generations. Sharing resources and goods is more attractive to younger generations because it reinforces experience and relationship. Consumption for consumption’s sake is at odds with this preference. Again most consumer credit has been extended to buy unnecessary things, even as these unnecessary things have driven a global consumer economy. This along with government entitlements and military spending has been largely responsible for U.S. consumer debt and national debt.

Younger generations are simply not willing to buy into entitlement and consumption at anywhere close to the same scale as their parents. They rightfully see these pyramid schemes as rigged: as generationally unfair (i.e. federal entitlements), environmentally untenable (heavily wasteful of energy and material), and undesirable from a lifestyle standpoint (requiring more money and tangential time and energy to purchase and maintain then they are worth): Welcome to the "De" generation: De-Ownership, De-Materialization.

Even if they wanted to go the way of their parents, Millennials know they can’t. The world won’t support it. This massive decrease in consumption by the young will ensure a steep drop in the need for debt but require a radical creativity in world economic premises and organization.

The post-WWII mindset, “I need to get mine, so asset values have to go up and up,” warped credit supply and assessments of reality, especially in the housing market. Driven by historical patterns and psychological desires, it became an article of faith that house prices could only go up, leading eventually to the housing bubble (not only “up” but “very up” so everyone can get rich!). Actually, without easy credit the nominal market value of houses, what people are willing or capable of paying for, has dropped rather precipitously. Price retracing reflected not losses but readjustments in nominal value to reality.

This dynamic between “use” and “thing” value plays itself out even in ideas of social progress. Those inclined toward possession-oriented, “thing” value, feel and act on an underlying assumption that the more money and attention they can attract to themselves, their cause, or their organization the better the world will be. People of this mindset end up counterproductively vying against each other to be the lead spokesperson in “saving the world,” fracturing limited resources in order to fund limited visions in a situation that fundamentally requires cooperation to be effectively solved. To be viable, personality and mission-driven idealism will have to cede itself to collaborative problem-solving pragmatism, i.e. “use” over “thing.”

The evolving preference for “use” over “thing,” application over possession, follows a stewardship mentality that stems from the limitations and opportunities of the emerging world: We pass through this life. We don’t really “own” anything. We use it and share it and then we leave this life. “It’s mine,” only makes sense if you deny your own mortality. Rather, you have responsibility for something in your temporary care and control. In fact the burdens of ownership—insurance, maintenance, storage, time, taxes—are seen by many in the younger generation as getting in the way of the good life. Nominal ownership is preferred only insomuch as it may create opportunity for autonomy (i.e. doing what you like to your house without interference from a landlord).

There is a new mandate emerging: It’s about what you can do for others as a facilitator of life growth, not solely what you can do for yourself, the self-seeking mover and shaker, the “heroic,” approval-needy individual. Much of the past psychology of debt and the failed material American Dream, involves people “taking and expanding”—taking on any debt liability and using what ever credit means necessary to build a heroic narrative: “My big house, my great reputation, my huge salary all must grow (exponentially) to Olympian heights.”

This mentality is based in things that one “owns.” Even non-material qualities like identity, ideology, reputation, celebrity, and character have been commodified and bought and sold in this framework. Eliminate this need to seek self-affirmation through consumption and commodification, and you can immediately eliminate many trillions of dollars of potential debt.

Status-oriented worth also leads to a desire to cut corners, to engage in fraud to aggrandize one’s image. When you distort the image around a “thing,” whether that thing is one’s reputation or a “complex” exotic derivative, it is a lot easier to misrepresent value and to dupe others. When a thing has to prove its value in actual use, then it becomes a lot more difficult to misrepresent its worth. Bernie Madoff extracted his illegal profits through his reputation. People did not closely examine his actual investment products. People focused on “who he was” and not “what he did.” The first refers to “thing value”; the second has to do with “use value” and quality.

A society based in individual heroism, guarantee, and security will in all likelihood destroy itself. Why? If your own narrative, wealth, power, and image in the eyes of others is paramount, you won’t risk your status in learning, making mistakes, or trying new approaches when the old approaches fail. If you merely look at your own situation, and use your negotiating power to leverage greater benefits from larger arenas, you tend to become isolated from the needs of others. You become entitled, believing that others create their own fate and that you alone “earned your benefits.”

Entitled individualism also erodes the skills and perspectives needed to analyze challenges on a systemic scale and cooperate with others in order to meet those challenges. “Thing value” and the habits that go with it are not only obsolete but quite hazardous in the present context. They also cost too much. Politicians can promise gold-plated benefits to everyone, but they won’t be able to deliver. They are hoping you vote based on a promise, not its viability. The cure: Vote on reality, not wish.

Today’s youth care relatively little about your reputation, your estimate of yourself, or your pretty speeches. They want to know what exciting phenomenon can you produce or create? What inspiring ideas or provocative words can you contribute to this larger conversation? What actions have you taken to solve the problem? This goes for young people in deciding about the performance of politicians. They will not simply pledge their allegiance to a politician based on hype or past support. Have you exerted your power on behalf of opportunity for all? Have you stayed connected to us? Have you ensured fairness? Have you gotten the job done? For Obama the answer has come back a stout, “no,” so the younger American generation has little use for him.

The same is true for the promises of great prosperity if young people just take out stratospheric student loans to pay off their overblown university education costs. That promise is not panning out. A new way forward is required and young people know their lives depend upon it. Older generations have a choice, to extend and pretend and hope they die before the consequences show up, or change premises and learn to serve a larger purpose in tune with the younger generations. This will be discussed in the next parts.

(by Zeus Yiamouyiannis, Ph.D., copyright 2011)

About this series: Given accelerating conditions and trends in Europe, the U.S. and Asia, debt will be renounced, forgiven or written down, and how that process unfolds is now of paramount importance. Will private entities who dined so gloriously on their profits now eat their losses? Can the public who has seen its fortunes commandeered mount an effective response? Will there be convincing practical alternatives to a rigged world economy based in debt expansion and servitude? The answer is "yes" to all three, contends this five-part series by longtime contributor Zeus Yiamouyiannis. The series offers practical analyses and blueprints for liberating the world from debt and thus freeing its people to pursue greater, more productive purposes. CHS

Unleashing the Future: Advancing Prosperity Through Debt Forgiveness (Part 1)
(November 28, 2011)

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
ZippyBananaPants's picture

Really, another article about the economy?  On a day when Conrad Murray may go to jail?  I even let my teenager stay home from school to watch the verdict with me.

 I told him he can use the extra time to beat level 11 on angry birds.

 It’s a lunch at Checkers drive inn if he can! 

He has so much trouble with the bird that looks like a cannon ball?

Hugh_Jorgan's picture

No, it is a globalist thing. This piece looks like a soft-defense for the rich OWS crybabies and their handlers. You know, those entities that the sheeple are being conditioned to accept as "safe harbors" after the coming collapse comes to pass. He seems to wax a bit too much on the oh-so NOT-greedy Utopian-minded youth of today. This clown of an author is an obvious shill for the Globalists at the helm of this nightmare.

nugjuice's picture

I think he actually captures quite well the attitudes of a large part of my generation. When my girlfriend asked why I had moved 7 times in 7 years I picked up her smart phone and said every time you buy crap like this it's a little tiny anchor holding you back from moving and experiencing life. It may not be a big one, but it adds up. Pretty soon it's a car, a house, a phone, a dog, a tv, and before you know it? You're stuck. It's not that we're not greedy, it's that we're not impressed by the current 'haves' and the system that's been oh-so-generously handed off to us. But thanks for coming with a fancy sounding name...generational imbalance. I like to call it robbing from people who don't yet understand or have a choice. But they will.

Jay Gould Esq.'s picture

When I first saw this photo, I had a double-take: When did Greenspan start hitting the Grammy circuit in a felt fedora ? Separated at birth: An aged Elvis Costello, and Alan Greenspan from the Reagan Era:

Right-on Left-off's picture

There was a misplaced come-on here.  The discussion went from the problem of the current monetary system to an espousal of a theoretical social psychology.

Bait and switch.  There is no solution here just as there are no solutions in the blogging.  Just viewpoints and everyone, down to the last individual on Planet Earth has one, his own.

Just another rant of individual self proclaimed 'entitled individualism'.  Appropriately coined by the author himself.

Troy Ounce's picture


Forget debt forgiveness. Moral hazard all the way. Besides the thousands of civil servants keeping an eye on the new "fair and equitable" society becoming the new ueber class.

What about letting capitalism do its work? Bankruptcy, pain, bankers and politicians going to jail, new political parties, spring clean the system, honest money and Roubini working at McDonalds

Debt jubilee, baaaaad idea.

Boba Fiat's picture

Agreed.  Just bring back the rule of law. 

POpatriot's picture

I think Tyler is becoming schizophrenic.  You can't like Ron Paul and think this this clown makes any sense.  Debt fogiveness...sure its called BANKRUPTCY.  

OS2010's picture

I completely agree! 

What happens after the debt forgiveness?  Just a new debt runup at three times the previous rate (or am I underguesstimating?), since "it will all be forgiven!"  At least the retailers would be ecstatic, but certainly not the taxpayers, who would end up paying for the forgiven debt.

devo's picture

This is crap, and makes me want to stop reading ZH. Own your decisions. Individual responsibility, live as if government didn't exist.

CPL's picture

Most people don't think of their governments unless told to. 


Debt completely worthless.  The day this is announced I'm running up millions in credit before hand.  If someone wants to give away a free lunch, let's take advantage of it and make sure that Jubillee is remembered as the biggest fuck up in human history.


We won't even have to fire a single shot.  Just purchase like there is no tomorrow.  Better yet, purchase like there is no tomorrow then sell everything for fire sale prices.  Fuck the entire retail chain.  Destroy the illusionary retail sector, empty the malls, flatten the pricing and force a perpetual deleveraging cycle.

i-dog's picture

You may as well ... everyone else has already.

I gather you have another solution in mind?

CPL's picture

Running with scissors at full speed on the highway against traffic sounds appealing.

Willzyx's picture

"Just purchase like there is no tomorrow"

You are describing hyper inflation.  Your paper credit money will soon be worthless, so exchange it for whatever physical good you can ASAP. 

Willzyx's picture

If the banks know a jubilee is coming, don't you think they will tighten lending standards?  Make sure you have credit available to you when that day comes.  Start opening up all the no fee credit cards and revolving lines of credit you can.  Hell, mortgage your house and take some student loans while you are at it

mcguire's picture

i agree.  total crap.  furthermore, all of the 'social movements' listed (OWS, etc.) were clearly manufactured movements.  input the Bernays quote here.  put the tin foil hat on, dammit!!!

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. Thi...s is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” – Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928
CPL's picture

As an OWS organiser, yes it was manufactured.  By AdSense folks and Senior Anonymous members.  When the protests went over the rails as a left wing movement, Anonymous cleared out.  Our intention was to start a we're mad as hell movement, not dumb fuck kids in Che tshirts.


You can tell how well it all panned out.  Some cop actually walked back and forth pepper spraying dumbasses, pausing only to reload, then carry on.  The tea baggers are manufactured as well.  Initially it started as a "we're mad as hell" movement then disintergrated into hill billy politicks. 


Both I've been involved with, more so on OWS, all it takes is micheal Moore to show up and fuck the whole party.  For the Tea Baggers, Palin was the hanging moment.

Willzyx's picture

I remember when OWS started as US Day of Rage a la Tahrir Square.  Now its a kumbaya hippie drum circle

hedgeless_horseman's picture



Someone please explain to me exactly why the United States Immigration Service needs to advertise with banner ads on websites like this?

It is like Houston's power company spending millions for football stadium naming rights.

Momauguin Joe's picture

It's your surf habits coming back at you, brother.

GeneMarchbanks's picture

hh looking to immigrate? Say it ain't so hedgless.


STOP HAVING KIDS. There, I said it, sorry.  

7 billion people is unsustainable. 

1835jackson's picture

Can you spot the liberal democrat here? All sheep on the outside all wolf on the inside just like your avatar.

tarsubil's picture

Their orders are always for your own good. Trust them.


@ Jacko- keep sipping on the Koolaid my friend.

MJ's picture

Do us a favor an off yourself first. 

i-dog's picture

Yep. It's not like homo sapiens is headed for extinction through lack of babies!

There should be some kind of captcha required before 'entry'.


So you're saying you would like your kids to suffer more then? Nice one bro. 

i-dog's picture

I was talking about a captcha required to 'enter' the baby-making canal.

You need to loosen up and read sentences twice before making a knee-jerk response.

sitenine's picture

5B was unsustainable, 6B was ridiculous, 7B is just stupid.
You religious nuts can start junking at will.
But seriously, if your God wanted humankind to spread like a disease all over this beautiful planet, he sure as hell forgot to provide us the resources to do so responsibly. Wake the fuck up!!!

POpatriot's picture

Posts like this is how eugenics becomes popular.  

Sheepfukker you must hate the Ron Paul posts about liberty and freedom on this blog.   


Actually dude, you have got me wrong. I love Ron Paul and am a big supporter. I just don't like crowds, war, environmental destruction, climate change, famine, etc.  Exactly how are these things going to improve under your plan with population growth to inifinity? 

mayhem_korner's picture

Younger generations are simply not willing to buy into entitlement and consumption at anywhere close to the same scale as their parents.


This is a grossly misplaced observation.  Younger generations discard things as "so five minutes ago" with greater speed than any prior generation.  The notion that these generations value social interaction over things isn't compatible with the need of "things" to enable the interaction - iEverythings, tablets, computers, and other multi-media devices. 

Yes the demand profile is different.  But is it a cheaper one? No.  Is it a healthier one? No.  Materiality and so-called experientiality are both secular ills.  The true void remains. 

If what this article is saying is true, the so-called "occupiers" ought not to need to be anywhere specific...they should just relish the experience, right?   But they insisted on being on Wall Street, or in Oakland, Boston, etc.  The reality is they feel they have been denied "stuff" and need to protest it.  That's not a generation seeking just social interaction.

This series is missing the mark badly in my view.

SheepDog-One's picture

I have to agree its fantasyland. 

'Just forgive the debt, and people need to start thinkin straight again'....well OK but all I see is more entitlement demands and lines around the block whenever Apple has a new gizmo or towels are $1, and student who beg and plead for student loans, then start bitching and protesting about it when the bills start coming in after the 4 year party and the realization that their bachelor in womens studies isnt going to get them jack shit.

Does the author ever encounter actual real people out in public? He doesnt seem to know how fucked they are!

Sunset chaser's picture

I think he'd be more accurate if he just pointed out that many debts can't be repaid and thus must be defaulted upon, and when that happens lenders might feel forgiving about it or not, but in either case they aren't going to get the money they were counting on.

Whether it's forgiven debt or defaulted debt, it's a debt that won't ever be repaid. Dumbasses shouldn't have lent irresponsibly, and suckers shouldn't have borrowed irresponsibly. All at fault. Nothing to do but wipe the slate clean, kick out the bad apples, and start over.

Potemkin Village Idiot's picture

it's a debt that won't ever be repaid. Dumbasses shouldn't have lent irresponsibly, and suckers shouldn't have borrowed irresponsibly

It's not that simple... It's not like all the debt out there right now exists because somebody acquired some "widget" with it... If so, there would be a hell of a lot more widgets out there...

- It's interest payments added to debt service (the 'ol "introductory 0.0% interest rate" that balloons to 30% as soon as you have run up a small balance)

- things that were bought at bubble prices (whereby the bubbles werre created by the debt owners out of fraud & "thin air" money)

- Socialization of others debts

Do I have to continue? There has been a well orchestrated plan in effect, all along, to create debt, to INFLATE debt, then to socialize the debt (for the ultimate benefit of a relative few)...

I'm not calling for any mass jubilee (which I think is unworkable anyway)... The only way to handle this will be for individuals to act in their own interests... In aggregate, the problem ought to work itself out over time...


Hugh_Jorgan's picture

Uh... YEAH!?!?!?

This author is a shill. He is here to "shape" our thinking with half-truths, not inform. This is the way of Progressivism, and why our schools turn out so many drones that can't think anymore.

ElvisDog's picture

The notion that these generations value social interaction over things isn't compatible with the need of "things"

And not only that, but much of the "interaction" consists of staring at a tiny screen and typing things into it. Is that really "interacting" with people or a simulcrum of it? It's not just young people either. I can't tell you the number of times I've seen two people eating dinner or having coffee together and both of them are staring at their fucking cellphones.

Mark123's picture

Part 1 made more sense.  Also, I think this is written from the perspective of anglo-america....not the 3rd world america that is rapidly expanding and exerting its influence on our society (with the help of the .0001% elite).

Sunset chaser's picture

Well I hope this guy is right about all this, because the world would be a better place with less focus on who's got the most money.

Currencies are backed by nothing tangible, meaning we're all just paper trading, whether you like it or not. Living a life of illusions LOL. It works as long as everyone agrees to go along. But the powers that be have abused their privileges so long that young people are beginning to wake up and question the game.

Politicians are increasingly uncomfortable with being seen as supportive of big banks, for good reason.

This dissolution of the symbiotic approach to parasitism between banksters and politicos is the tolling of the bell for most of them, and brings the promise of a new beginning for the rest of us. If nothing else OWS has got it right that the parasitic cooperative between politicos and banksters should end. Ironically, it will end because they overreached, not because of OWS. JMHO

CrashisOptimistic's picture

One man's debt is another man's asset.  "Debt forgiveness" requires those little old ladies who loaned that money and depend on the interest payments to pay for heat and food . . . to decide to freeze and starve.

This is an absurd concept.

There is no default or write down, either.  Greece defaulting is a choice on their part.  Banks "agreeing" to it likely will be wriggled through a loophole, undoing any agreement.

When a country decides not to pay, the debt is not expunged.  It can be held on bank books forever, looking for assets to confiscate someday.  There is no international bankruptcy court that can tell a multinational bank, or little old lady, that her bond holdings are worthless.  They, or she, does not have to agree to that.  

They can choose instead to just wait, with the debt compounding, until the country has assets somewhere other than Greece and then go get them.  And in the meantime, make any additional loans contingent on a premium interest rate intended to quietly repay the previous loan.

SheepDog-One's picture

Yea right...WHO takes the loss in 'debt forgiveness'? Not the banks!

Little old lady pensioners get to take the loss!

Imminent Collapse's picture

Much of what he says resonates with me, especially as I see how my daughter is rejecting materialism and working her ass off creating and expanding a commercial organic farm.  She and her friends do not want ostentatious wealth, but instead value friendship, hard work and family.  Folks, we are heading for an imminent collapse, but you should be happy that this flawed pattern that is being utilized today will be replaced - hopefully with something better.  The new generation (using a broad brush here, but...) understands what is important and is working toward those goals.  The collapse will just validate their beliefs and I just hope that they are wise and experienced enough to lead the charge to remake the system so that it actually works. 

CrashisOptimistic's picture

Touchy feely stuff like valuing friendship, hard work and family lasts right up until they can't fund gasoline or medical care.

 Long about then they choose to value money.

Crab Cake's picture

I'm going to say this as politely as possible Mr. Author, you don't know shite. "Youth today." "Young People." It is obvious you know nothing about what you speak... well... they seem to like the internet... and twitter... and seem not to like BS because they are informed via the internets. WTF over.

Time to get down with the revolution. Sometimes I really wonder about anyone over 50ish in this country, do you really like getting ass raped, or are you just to stupid/ignorant/brainwashed to notice?


We ain't free, the laws only apply to the little people, the Constitution may as well be in a trash can, both the political parties are bought and sold, the uber wealthy/corporations/banks run everything, the "free press" is a sick propagandist joke, and that's the fucking truth.

You want to know about young people today? We don't have shit to lose, and we're gonna bring the whole joint down if shit doesn't change soon. Molotov cocktail party anyone?

i-dog's picture

I think you'll find that many of the most anti-statists on this site are over 50. I am.

The sooner we can crash this fucker, the sooner we can start rebuilding with local solutions to local problems ... and real money. If we don't crash it under our terms, then they will under their terms (which ain't pretty).