MasterPo says: This blog is about topics and issues that are of importance to me. I am not one of the countless blogging lemmings that are tripping over each other scurrying down the hill and off the cliff of blogging oblivion trying to write the greatest blog on the latest topic de'jour. Your comments are welcome.

January 30, 2011

Bringing Back Debtors Prisons!

In a recent article of MasterPo’s the old concept of the “Debtors Prison” was mentioned merely in passing as an institution no longer practiced. Surprisingly that one comment instigated a rash of negative comments as readers greatly misunderstood the reference.

But this got MasterPo thinking: Why not re-institute Debtors Prisons?

From medieval times through the middle of the 19th century people with debts they couldn’t pay when due where often put in these prisons. Conditions were harsh as it was a form of punishment meant to repudiate someone who couldn’t immediately pay back what was owed as well as a symbol to the rest of society to encourage reasonable thinking when borrowing (and lending).

But in spite of the term “prison” in many cases after a brief bit of incarceration under true prison conditions in many cases the debtor and lender would meet (in the prison) to work out a repayment plan. Often this meant the debtor working for the lender in some capacity for a period of time until the value of the labor or production repaid the funds lent out. The debtor basically lived a “work-release” program, working for the lender during the day and returning to prison when not at work.

The intent was as much punishment as it was to ensure the debtor did in fact hold to the repayment agreement.

There is logic in this. Left to their own devices many people will only give lip service to repaying debt. Or even when a true effort is made but falls short the debtor still indulges in some extras and frivolity – money that could be and should be used to repay the debt instead.

Considering the massive amounts of personal debt in today’s society, Debtors Prison may not be such a bad idea.

Before you send the hate mails and comments, follow this:

In a great many cases the debt is based not on buying necessities of life (food, basic clothing, basic transportation, medical etc) but on pleasures and accessories of life like bid screen TV’s, Xbox, vacations, meals out, latest fashion etc. All nice stuff. But hardly an example of a person just scraping by.

(Not that un-repayable debt to pay for food, clothing, medical etc. is an excuse either.)

The worst part is that for a great many people the concept of even trying to repay the debt just isn’t in the cards for them.

Sue them? They have little or nothing of value.
Attach wages? Same thing.
Repossess the items? Kinda hard to repossess dinner.

And even more, these people continue to spend money on crap like super grande mocca whatever lattes and the latest Halo or WOW games.

So why not some form of Debtors Prison?

As an effort to ensure these people concentrate on repaying the debt, and, as a symbolic warning to others not to bite off more than they can chew.

The current ways of trying to ensure debt repayment are failing. How about something else?

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