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Playlist: Dealing with Debt

Compiled By: PRX Editors

 Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/andresrueda/">Andres Rueda</a>
Image by: Andres Rueda 
Curated Playlist

With both individuals and nations running record fiscal deficits, a look at the history and concept of debt. Novelist Margaret Atwood, former Comptroller General David M. Walker, a cowboy poet, and average citizens from three generations all weigh in...

Debt: Payback and the Shadow Side of Wealth- Margaret Atwood- Hour One

From Canadian Broadcasting Corporation | Part of the 2008 CBC Massey Lectures series | 54:00

A five-part series in which legendary novelist Margaret Atwood addresses the idea of debt as an ancient and central motif in religion, literature, and the structure of human societies. Part of the 2008 CBC Massey Lectures, where you can find Parts Two through Five.

Margaretatwoodbookcover2_small Legendary novelist, poet, and essayist Margaret Atwood delivers a surprising look at the topic of debt. In her wide-ranging, entertaining, and imaginative approach to the subject, Atwood proposes that debt is like air - something we take for granted until things go wrong. And then, while gasping for breath, we become very interested in it. Payback is not about practical debt management or high finance. Rather, it is an investigation into the idea of debt as an ancient and central motif in religion, literature, and the structure of human societies. Margaret Atwood writes "These are not lectures about how to get out of debt; rather, they're about the debtor/creditor twinship in the broadest sense ? from human sacrifice to pawnshops to revenge. In this light, what we owe and how we pay is a feature of all human societies, and profoundly shapes our shared values and our cultures." Margaret Atwood is one of the world's pre-eminent writers - winner of the Booker Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the Governor General's Literary Award, among many other honours. She is the bestselling author of more than thirty-five books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, including The Handmaid's Tale, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin, and Oryx and Crake. She is an International Vice President of PEN, which assists writers around the world in the peaceful expression of their ideas. Most recently, she is the 2008 recipient of the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for Letters.

Former Comptroller General Sounds the Alarm on Debt

From AARP Radio | Part of the Prime Time Radio series | 59:53

Former U.S. Comptroller General and head of the Government Accountability Office David M. Walker argues that American addiction to debt is a non-ideological issue that has diminished the country's greatness. From Prime Time Radio, produced by AARP.

Mike_ptr_thumb_small "America's fiscal problems are strangling the U.S. economy," says David Walker, President and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and former Comptroller General of the U.S. He joins host Mike Cuthbert to talk about the critical importance of this issue and why he thinks politicians aren't paying enough attention to it. Then...Judith Neis is a woman who was transformed by the feminist movement of the 1960's and, in turn, contributed to the transformation of some of America's institutions - including the House of Representatives where she led the fight to do away with the separate "Ladies Gallery". Her memoir explores the personal and political repercussions of feminism and other movements of the '60's.


From Voices of Our World | 27:58

From the federal government to the individual citizen, going into debt has become a national way of life. A timely look at the ways of the debt industry and how huge profits are being made at consumers' expense.

Debt_small Voices of Our World Program 0601 Air date: Week of January 1, 2006 Part One: DEEPER IN DEBT: The $400.00 child credits doled out to lower income families do not even begin to offset state fee hikes and serious cuts. A minimum wage earning mom, worried about how she'll afford a doctor's visit for her child, has greater concerns than stimulating the economy. Our nation is in debt to the tune of $6,793,571,980,569.91 and most US citizens are carrying considerable personal debt. Some banks are getting rich by taking advantage of our addiction to credit. Elinoar Astrinsky talks with Michael Hudson, the author of Merchants of Misery. OPTIONAL CUTAWAY CUE: "That's 1-8-8-8 M-A-R-Y-K-N-O-L-L" at 14:00. Part Two: THERE OUGHT TO BE A LAW!: More than 9 million Americans recently lost their jobs. Since the year 2000, 3.2 million private sector jobs and 2.5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost to other countries. Our trade policies have made it more profitable for US firms to move plants and jobs outside our borders. Minimum wage earners who haven't lost their jobs, have not seen a pay increase since 1997. Is it time to make the right to a job, at a "living wage" an amendment to the Constitution? Kathy Golden speaks with Loyola University Law Professor, William Quigley.

Debt - a rebroadcast from 2003

From Phil Mariage | Part of the Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow series | 29:00

Even more relevant than when first broadcast. People from three generations discuss their attitudes toward using credit and going into debt.

Ytt-300x300_small This is a program we recorded in December 2003. Even then, before all the current distress in personal finances, this was a very revealing discussion. We hear all the time that increasing debt is being passed on to the next generation...well this younger guest already felt the burden even in 2003.


From Western Folklife Center Media | 03:00

Cowboy singer Brenn Hill sings and discusses his song about a topic many Americans are all too familiar with, "Debt": 'I got a brand new diesel pick-up truck that I can't afford to drive/We're puttin' groceries on the credit card so we can stay alive.' The man sings truth...


It's rare these days to tune in to the news on the radio and not hear reports on the sputtering economy, rising fuel prices and people struggling to make ends meet; and if you decide you need a break from bad news, don't tune in to your country music station, because you may hear the same story all over again.

This week's What's in a Song is no different. In it, we hear from Utah cowboy singer Brenn Hill with his song, "Debt," written after seeing friends dragged down by debt. Brenn has been performing at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering since he was too young to even qualify for a credit card, and now he is one of the most innovative voices in contemporary cowboy music.

The song is featured on Brenn's new album, What a Man's Got To Do. Purchase the CD in our online store.