notes feb 24

February 24, 2008 § Leave a comment

House of credit

A growing dependence on credit cards is leaving the American consumer mired in debt
http://www1.pressdemocrat.com/article/20080224/NEWS/802240307

By GUY KOVNER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

With America’s total credit card debt approaching $1 trillion, she had plenty of company, according to figures from the government and a credit-tracking firm.
Consumers charged $68 billion worth of purchases last year, boosting credit card debt by 7.8 percent, the largest increase in seven years.
That rising personal debt is bad news for a nation teetering on recession. The estimated $132 billion a year spent on credit card interest takes money away from purchases of goods and services, contributing to the nation’s economic slump.

The average U.S. household spends 15 percent of its disposable income on mortgage and credit card interest combined, a ratio that has increased 25 percent in the past decade.

“We really can’t count on the consumer to drive this economy,” Cochrane said.

About 175 million Americans pay with plastic. The average cardholder has seven bank and retail credit cards; only 7 percent of consumers have none, according to various estimates.

ased on its survey of more than 55,000 consumers, CardTrak pegged the median cardholder debt at $6,600 (meaning half owed more and half owed less), and the average revolving credit card debt at $9,840.Stiff fees for late payments and exceeding limits compound debt load. In 2006, credit card companies made more than $17 billion in penalty fees, U.S. PIRG said.

Compare the numbers in bold. See anything unusual?

and

“al-Hakim “the mad,” … the Fatimid Caliph who torched the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and put the kybosh on a long-standing hudna between Muslims and Christians to allow Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land, which the conventional wisdom has it was the immediate provocation that egged on the Crusades.”

This was hardly “immediate provocation.” It took place in 1009 – at the same time as the mosque in Constantinople was destroyed. Al Hakim’s son, Ali az-Zahir, who replaced him as Fatimid Caliph, negotiated with the Byzantine Emperor, Constantine VIII on the rebuilding and redecoration of both the Church in Jerusalem and the mosque in Constantinople. In the latter, Friday hutbes were to be delivered in the name of the Fatimid Caliph. The Church in Jerusalem was fully rebuilt and in full operation as a pilgrimage site by 1050.

So it seems that it was a stretch for the Papacy to use the 1009 event as the pretext for the call, more than 80 years later, of the First Crusade. I think we have to find other explanations forUrban’s call for crusade in 1095.

and

Hubert Houben. Roger II of Sicily: Ruler Between East and West, Cambridge University Press, 2002; and Donald Matthew, The Norman Kingdom of Sicily, Cambridge University Press, 1992.

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