Book Review

Debt-free for life – Prosperity for the rest of us

Steven Erlick. June 2005; 90pp. Coyote Workshops, Green Gables, Northgate, Castle Hill, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 5NX. £9.99

This little book is written by a man who has been through the experience of unmanageable debt, and is aimed at those many others who find themselves hopelessly in debt.

It starts with a too-brief history of the development of the current worldwide debt-money system from its origins some 3000 years ago, making the point that this has been deliberately designed, by stealth and deceit, to benefit the money-creators at society’s cost, and depends on widespread indebtedness to function; to this extent, it is not the fault of the debtors that they find themselves unable to cope.

The role of compound interest in making debts unmanageable, especially when the ‘risky’ debtors have the highest rates of interest imposed on their debts, gets a fair airing, noting also the positive feedback effect of changing rates of interest on the cycles of boom and slump.

The ways that debt is demanded when payment has become difficult or impossible get full treatment, with their deliberate psychological effects of fear and terror. Then follows a section suggesting ways of coping psychologically/metaphysically (which I found too long and of dubious value) before moving to practical ways to combat the demands of the debt-collectors/bailiffs. Essential to each of these is a ‘five-pack’: five lists on paper, of income; regular commitments; assets; creditors; and finally a balance sheet to show a realistic ‘net worth’, or ability to pay.

Then the need is to assess one’s real needs and determine to live within one’s means, avoiding further indebtedness.

He concludes the book with a look to the future, with the cyclic effect on the ‘economy’ of the influence of debt-money and interest-rates which make a recession, or worse, now imminent. This reinforces his advice: to get out of debt as soon as possible, and then to stay out of debt.

It is hard to see how the subtitle fits with the thesis, especially given the dependence of our ‘economy’ on ever-increasing levels of debt, which he notes in his introductory chapter. However, it is to be hoped that whoever is helped by the book to get out and stay out of debt will be encouraged to study the matter further, starting with the final short section of the book on ‘Resources’, which consists of a bibliography on Money, Legal, Psychic Protection, Philosophy and Politics, and Miscellaneous, followed by lists of organisations and websites.