On my way to Union Square this evening a girl stopped me to ask me to support Children International. I talked with her for a minute but knew from the beginning that I wasn’t in a great position to be donating money to anyone. She wasn’t asking for a lot, it apparently costs only $22 a month to support one child, but when I told her that I couldn’t, she asked why. I’m not good at withholding information and so I usually go with the first response I can think of: “I don’t have a job.” She replied that I would be able to find one within three weeks if I start looking. I didn’t budge and then she nonchalantly suggested that I “put it on my credit card.” To this I chuckled–but if I had no job and no money, in what way does paying with credit make anything affordable?

This is a scarily accurate microcosm of how America became the world’s economic superpower in the 20th century. Somehow we have taught our citizens nothing about the cost of credit, much less money itself. It’s too bad that the things we bought with debt weren’t food for third-world countries.

The Beatles – You Never Give Me Your Money

The Smashing Pumpkins – Cherub Rock