The Consumer Union, an organization promoting reform in a number of areas, has published an amusing, somewhat lighthearted animated short feature on credit card debt at
link to cu.convio.net
Probably student loans constitute the most insidious form of loan sharking in America. Ninety percent of students who apply for student loans end up pursuing degrees that have little or no marketability in the business world. Even supposedly attractive degrees may get you nowhere in a hurry.
I have a personal friend, a middle aged man, who obtained $160,000 in student loans to get a Masters in Business Administration from a very prestigious university. He graduated with top honors, and yet one year later he remains unemployed, $160,000 in debt, and living off his girl friend. The only party in this deal that has made any money so far is the university and their highly paid faculty.
I, myself, carry a piece of yuppie plastic in my wallet (a credit card and debit card) which I refer to as an "annoying convenience". However I mostly use the credit card for business related expenses and use the debit card for groceries, cash, etc. Nevertheless, I do not feel comfortable with credit or debit cards, and the traceable databases they generate - these instruments seem only one step away from the mark of the beast.
If you are a student and tempted to send in one of the many credit card offers you have received in the mail, then I strongly urge you to research the pitfalls at sites like the Consumers Union at www.consumersunion.org