Since I’m writing five articles for a freelance job about debt, it seems like I should also write one here, where I can be honest. 30 million Americans are in debt and are being actively pursued by debt collection agencies, myself included. Debt is a relatively modern human creation, a masterfully crafted bit of evil unleashed by banks and men of power. Sure, the ancients had master and slave relationships, serfdoms, and other sorts of economic inequality: but there was nothing morally wrong with you, if you were a serf. Serfs were a vital part of a larger system, and the lords pledged to defend their workers and families from harm (and also, for two weeks at the end of the year, serfs were free of that system entirely, and could rightfully demand figgy pudding and mead). As for the ancient Egyptians, I’m not at all convinced that slaves built the pyramids; for such a feat of flawless engineering to be pulled off, every one of the ten thousand slaves would have to have their heart and soul trained on their work, which seems implausible if not impossible. All that pushed them to work was a whip? I’d do a half-ass job, intentionally. Distant engineers dropping by for a while seems much likelier to me, and to many other folks (but this is getting off subject, apologies).
What we have now is something more sinister: people get into debt over medical bills, student loans, bad mortgages, or just falling behind in a society with really no net for poor people—and then they are immediately labeled bad, defective, irresponsible. Look at the original debt: was there even any hard currency behind it? The Fed lends out ten dollars for every dollar it gets, and Chase, Citigroup, and all the other evil financial overlords do the same; they make loans out of nothing. After the financial collapse a few years ago, the criminal practices of big banks were revealed (shoddy paperwork, environmental rape for profit, incomplete records, unethical harassment, on and on) and they got the equivalent of a slap on the wrist: $25 billion in fines, which they turned around by buying up T-bonds and promptly devaluing. And that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what they made off of bad mortgages. But, since the banks (and let’s call a spade a spade, the cabal) control the media, all of this gets washed away, no one is held responsible. The Dodd-Frank committee’s one triumph, the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is just starting up now, and who knows what actual power it has. Individual debtors (average consumer debt pursued by a collection agency: $1,500) are hounded with phone calls, letters, and threats (frequently physical threats, I’ve read quite a few articles on this subject), and our government continues to play ball with the bad guys. (It’s hard for me to write, “is run by the bad guys.” I still have some faith in democracy, despite having recently come out as a libertarian, I have to).
Currently, there’s a bill on the House floor which would offer immunity to corporate lawyers working for debt collection agencies: they would be exempt from following the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, and could use whatever evil tactics they like to harass debtors—calling after 9 at night, threatening endless litigation, contacting debtors’ employers, contacting family members, etc. Civil liberties sacrificed to banks, who sold the empty loans in the first place, then sold them again to collection agencies. This bill was introduced by a N.C. Republican and was probably drafted by a bunch of corporate lawyers; if it passes, the FDCPA will be essentially castrated.
I encourage everyone reading this to look up One People’s Trust, a group of brave lawyers in Washington state who have filed suit in civil and common court to call the bankers to account. Independent judges have verified the legality of their suits. Documents are available to free yourself from this inflated, artificial, criminal bondage system we’ve been stuck with, for far too long. And beyond all this: remember that if you are in debt for five, ten, or even a hundred thousand dollars (I’m probably in it to $70K), this is no reflection on who you are as human being. Capitalism puts endless weight on wealth, but the energy we carry inside is clean and pure and beyond the reach of this broken system.