Maxed Out

Maxed Out

2006, Economics  -   23 Comments
Ratings: 6.89/10 from 28 users.

Maxed Out (2005)Per its title, James D. Scurlock's virulently angry muckraking documentary Maxed Out examines the many problems associated with escalating U.S. consumer debt. Scurlock places his weightiest emphasis on the ends of the spectrum rooted in extreme evil (read: abuse) - such as the capital lenders who wheedle poor farm families into assuming unmanageable loans and college students into placing massive amounts on credit cards.

He also touches on the end rooted in extreme tragedy, such as the debtors who sink so far in over their heads that suicide represents the only conceivable out.

The film's many interviewees include: Harvard University financial analyst Elizabeth Warren (who pontificates on the lucrativeness of high-interest mortgage banking) and born-again Christian radio host Dave Ramsey, who offers difficult, on-air advice to the fiscally burdened by drawing on his own experiences as a debtor.

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23 Comments / User Reviews

  1. anchovie

    I'll take it!

  2. MT254

    This was so interesting to watch and very informative. To watch it even these few years later after it was made but with what has happened with our economy, so much of what the one woman was warning about has happened. I would like to know what happened to that realtor lady. I have always thought that social security was going to run out of funds due to how many baby boomers, etc. were going to be using it. To read how so many Presidents just used all of the money in the social security trust fund to cover the debt interest and minimum payments should be criminal. Our countries government is the worst example to our citizens of how to manage our finances. There is no reason why a person should not be allowed to "refinance" if you would like to call it that, their student loans to get a lower interest rate if it is available since a person can do it for their home. It is the only thing you cannot declare bankruptcy on and it is the only thing that our government isn't helping people to be able to pay back in an affordable way. If we think we have gone through an economic crisis lately we haven't seen anything. The last couple of decades these generations have gotten so far in student loan debt alone they will be working to pay for living expenses, student loan debt and whatever else debt they accrue if they follow our governments lead. They will not be able to create an economy because they will not be able to spend in the economy. The economy will crash harder than ever before. However, if that is what it will take to finally bring about the change that is needed to reform student loans and how they are managed and issued then I guess that is what it will take since hardly anyone is demonstrating self control.

  3. kafka11

    as someone who was in tears towards the end i cannot quite comprehend the lack of humanity in some of the comments. The central theme of this doc is that a large chunk of working people simply do not earn enough to pay for basic needs; housing, health insurance, food, bills etc. Instead of paying these people higher wages in line with rising prices they are enticed into a rigged game; namely credit, where they will eventually be working to pay the interest like a galley slave.

  4. Neurobonkers

    Excellent documentary, pity about the captions, no seriously, who picked that font. I've seen captchas that are easier to read! It's like writing a comedy and censoring the punchlines!

  5. Demetrius Baker

    In reply to Lucas:

    Congrats, Luke! 24 years old and already "one of a very few qualified to comment on this subject". You must be quite a brilliant young man! Did YOU really pay $80,000 for your education or are you among the "99 percent" who want their student loans forgiven? I suspect you are among the latter. Either way, it was apparently money ill spent, given the drivel you write.

    As someone once wrote, "the problem with socialism is socialism; the problem with capitalism is capitalists." You have shown a partial understanding of this, but failed to support your basic belief in socialism. You also didn't define "greed". Nor did you attempt to define "sustainable", the term that progressive liberals love to throw around so much these days. Liberals tend to ignore reason and glamorize idealism. That won't benefit the United States.

    You call GWB financially irresponsible while ignoring the unsurpassed amount of debt Obama has created in just three years. And the fact that he wants to accumulate even more!

    I could go on, but to what use? There is no sense arguing with a progressive liberal. So good luck, Luke. May your superior intelligence and talents be applied to some useful work! I doubt it though.

    BTW: I bet you came back to check for a response!

    1. Marilyn Insertname

      if you were truly intelligent you would stick to factual information instead of personal attacks.

      demetrius flames ppl online to make up for his tragically small penis.

      how unfortunate.

    2. Pete

      Did you read what Luke actually said? a few points for your attention.

      1) He said he wouldn't check back for replies, so why bother replying?
      2) Just because he's a Liberal, doesn't necessarily mean he voted Obama, voted at all for that matter.
      3) WHY assume he didn't pay his own college fees!!

  6. aliceandthecat

    When the host dies, the parasite that inflicted the damage also dies.

  7. Demetrius Baker

    This will become a liberal/progressive classic if it isn't already. It showcases the benefits of personal financial irresponsibility, how to play the victim card and how the government can save us from ourselves. Although national debt is mentioned, the real "culprit" here is personal debt and what it drives the "victims" to do. I didn't shed a single tear. However, I did almost barf.

    The "experts" are the usual suspects; given a 2011 perspective. Elizabeth Warren (with a particularly annoying and lugubrious yet intimately confidential manner), Eliot Spitzer, Chris Dodd, Shiela Jackson Lee, Maxine Waters and some woman with short gray hair who sounded like she could use a drink of water. Where was Barney Frank? Of course, every effort was taken to portray Republicans (especially Dubya), banks, pawn shops, collection agencies and credit card companies as evil crooks.

    There were a few snippets of sanity. Dave Ramsey advocated personal financial responsibility, as did some Ozzie and Harriet era banker talking to two young "heads full of mush" (credit to Rush). These bits, however, were overshadowed by the onslaught of "victim" testimony. Something that goes like, "They expected me to pay my bills so there is nothing to do but hang myself". There was one particular testimony of an aged widow who was left with a $4,000 a month mortgage payment who could only hope to make it by selling her dish collection. Didn't it ever occur to her to sell her mansion and live in an apartment? How pathetic! Incidentally, she was referred to as "middle class".

    I give this movie an F. It fails miserably to identify and address the root reasons for personal debt problems in a capitalistic society. The National debt problem is another issue.

    1. Lucas Buczek

      I went to business school. I'm 24. And people like you are what's wrong with this country. No compassion for people in tough situations. The George Bush, and the Republicans are the MOST financially irresponsible criminals in the history of economics. I am one of a very few qualified to comment on this subject. Republican policies destroyed this country and in this documentary you see the effect. The debt problem in this country can be traced back to irresponsible public economic policies enacted by the right wing in the '70s. I'm not even going to get back on here to check for a response. Because I paid $80,000 to learn that and subsequently become a liberal. The main criticism of Capitalism is external factors that can't be quantified (predicted). Greed being the main one. The criticism is Capitalism is unsustainable in the sense that our's is designed for infinite growth in a world with finite resources. The system will change in the long run. There is no other way.

    2. Roy Lanigan

      So I'm suppose to feel sorry for people who mismanaged their for it.earn it or don't buy it.m*rons who buy things they can't afford.its called living within your means.ignorant libtards.

    3. Michael Conley

      did you see the movie? do you understand what "predatory" means? do you favor people trying to screw seniors, kids and folks that are down on their luck so that they can waterski behind their yachts? is that the kind of economy you favor?

  8. Roman Mirabal

    obamas really helping the debt :)

  9. Cojete

    This is completely biased. These people are idiots. Killing yourself over 12,000 in debt? What would have happened to those kids if they would have bought a honda accord?

    And f*** you for making money off someone else's work ( this doc and others ) placing ads and embedding the s*** from youtube.

    Once again,
    F*** You sir

    1. Hayden Drake

      12,000 is a LOT of money to pay back when you make less than 6.00 an hour (5.25 was the OK minimum wage when these kids were alive, 2.55 if you were a tipped employee, and if you recall the girl lost her job shortly before hanging herself). At that salary it's hard just to keep gas in your car and pay the rent (in high school more than half of my pay checks went into my tank, and speaking as someone who lives in Edmond, Ok where they attended university, there is no good alternative means of transportation to save money) nevermind bills, car insurance, food, and a monthly premium on the card. Don't forget that it is impossible to pay off a credit card by paying the minimum premium, and that interest causes the sum of your debt to expand.

      It might not be a lot of money to YOU, but to a broke college student I imagine it must have been quite overwhelming.

    2. blahblah

      you simply do not understand the movie's message or you must be the bill collector or a banker yourself (?). you also showing some traces of low level of intelligence, recognizable by choose of certain words in your post and the amount of blaming anger throughout your message

  10. love50

    I was watching this Documentary and Thank you for making it Bob Manning, This is so true, so many people are in big time debt. And the credit card companies do not help either. I am one of those in debt, and I am getting out of it, Never again do I want to see a credit card. Any one who has one bust it up, break it up, use a debit card, if in debt go to a debt repay me company there are plenty of great ones out there and they WILL help you get out of it. I am in one, and its great. do not kill your self over this as the documentary said some people are. Its not worth it. you will get out of it. Do not lose your faith.

  11. Nathan

    I want to see the lady who bought the big expensive house in Vegas now!!!

    1. Amine Hambaba

      Exactly my thoughts when I saw the documentary on Netflix

  12. Simon

    All this talk of Nuclear weapons destroying the world, is a distraction, the mixture of Stock market betting which accounts for perherps 100* more money than actually exist in the real economy, the cheap availablity of credit and the "Fail safe" function of Quantitative Easing, is a more powerful force than the impact of 100 Hydrogen bombs, and has a lot more certainty of occuring, precisely because people do not understand, the gravity of the downward spiral, and it's "Inevitable" end.

    1. Lucy Saw

      Excellent summation. What's worse is Americans don't understand that the downturn, the devaluation of the dollar, and the massive national debt will not only lead to a depression like they've never seen before but plummet the country into less than first world standard and there is nothing Obama can do about it at all.

  13. Caroline Harris

    I've been wondering for 20 years when Japanese 'Mom and Pop' investors are going to ask for their money back from the Yanks....we have a saying here in New Zealand that if the Americans cough, we get pneumonia. Many other places in the workd are being effected but the finincial inpropriety of US institutions.