Frontline: Secret History of the Credit Card

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In “Secret History of the Credit Card,” FRONTLINE® and The New York Times join forces to investigate an industry few Americans fully understand. In this one-hour report, correspondent Lowell Bergman uncovers the techniques used by the industry to earn record profits and get consumers to take on more debt.

“The almost magical convenience of plastic money is critical to our famously compulsive consumer economy,” Bergman says. “With more than 641 million credit cards in circulation and accounting for an estimated $1.5 trillion of consumer spending, the U.S. economy has clearly gone plastic.”

Millions of American families use their personal, general-purpose credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover to make ends meet; credit cards have been a discreet lifeline for families in financial straits.

But other consumers, like actor and author Ben Stein, use plastic purely for convenience. While it would appear that Stein — who says he charges a small fortune every month on his credit cards — is the ideal customer, in reality, he is what some in the industry call a “deadbeat.” That’s because he pays his balance in full every month.

The industry’s most profitable customers, the ones being sought by creative marketing tactics, are the “revolvers:” the estimated 115 million Americans who carry monthly credit card debt.
 

Watch The Secret History of the Credit Card on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

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Let There Be Light (Full Version), 4.0 out of 5 based on 12 ratings
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Let There Be Light (Full Version)

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The final entry in a trilogy of films produced for the U.S. government by John Huston. This documentary film follows 75 U.S. soldiers who have sustained debilitating emotional trauma and depression. A series of scenes chronicle their entry into a psychiatric hospital, their treatment and eventual recovery. This film was banned from public viewing for 30+ years.

 

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Let There Be Light (Full Version), 4.0 out of 5 based on 12 ratings
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2 comments to Let There Be Light (Full Version)

  • August

    Today’s veterans are given handfuls of meds that don’t work, mandated to never-ending “How do you feel?” group therapy nonsense, and required to convert to the 12-Step religious AA/NA cult or they are left homeless on the streets.

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  • I find the film remarkable for how it reflects on the early days of psychiatry; where, the focus was largely still on compassion, personal integrity, etc.
    i.e., in order to become therapists, the therapist first had to be a patient, (to heal themselves of the psychic garbage endemic to modern life).
    Like with the early days of television, (or printed books) or any number of new communications technologies, one can see the vast potential for healing/enlightenment… waiting to be explored.

    The fact that the film was NOT released attests to its authenticity; and yet, by this time the liberating, loving psychiatry was already being supplanted by the psychiatry of propaganda, (Bernays) and (CIA) mind-control.

    One can see the healing power of hypnosis here, and also the awful potential for abuse, (manchurian-candidates, etc.) in the hands of animals addicted to power in a power-mad empire.

    Sad to see how simple love and the light knowledge is, and how easily it can be turned towards evil.

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