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Is Not Paying Your Debts Immoral?

Updated on December 10, 2011

If you Wish to Know Human Emotion; Study Debt. . .

Debt - just the word alone sends shivers down the spine of any man. Love it, hate it, accept it, fight it; civilizations have been both built and destroyed with the instrument that is debt. Debt can destroy a marriage. Debt can cause otherwise rational human beings to commit unspeakable crimes. The worry of debt succumbs’ people to madness.

On the other hand, some would argue debt is what has built civilizations. Debt is what builds successful businesses. Debt when used wisely can allow a person to seize an opportunity. Debt can be a solution to meet immediate problems that gives the individual the time necessary to create future resolutions; live to fight another day so to speak. Having to pay off your debts provides the motivation to remain disciplined. Battling debt incentivises you to continually strive for progress.

Debt - a package of mixed emotions. Debt is filled with history. Debt is timeless. Debt is physical, philosophical, metaphysical, and often incomprehensible. Debt – in a true sense is perhaps the closest definition of a God – a God that we can both see and feel.

Is Opting Out of Paying your Debts Immoral?

On the surface this comes across as a simple question. If your friend gives you twenty dollars; it's your responsibility to pay him back. By refusing to pay him back; you're committing to breaking your word, treason, and theft all under the same breath. However, the book of debt has all her pages coloured in gray - nothing is as it seems on the surface.

I never explained what the recipient intends to do with the inherited debt. I never explained if the sender has knowledge of the recipients' intentions. If the person issuing the debt uses this as a means of controlling the person taking on the debt - then this is evil. Suddenly it's the issuer of the debt who comes across as the traitor, the deceitful, and the cruel.

There are an infinite number of possibilities that can seemingly stem from what seems at first a rather harmless transaction. The lender could have issued the debt to the recipient with the knowledge he doesn't have the means of repaying the debt. The lender could have loaned to his friend, with prior knowledge that his friend would use this money for criminal purposes, thus being complicit in the crime. The lender could have knowingly led his friend down a path of failure. A path of failure that he wouldn't have crossed; had the carrot on a stick that’s debt not been dangled over his forehead. As you can no doubt ascertain, our dear lender may not have the most benevolent of intentions. After all, it's in human nature that people look after their own self interests.

As for the recipient, I would go on to say the reason why he feels compelled to go into debt in the first place matters. Both Christianity and Islam speak heavily against the concept of usury. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why - the worship of an idol is strictly forbidden by people who practice these religions. Make no mistake, debt is an idol. Whether you're religious or not; I'm certain many will agree that there's a difference between a man who goes into debt to buy a Ferrari; versus a man going into debt to feed his family. The first is an example of gluttony. The second is an example of desperation. In the first example he should simply repay his master. In the second example he shouldn't repay his master, but should repay his debts to society through other means. Refusing to repay debts is immoral, but in many cases repaying the debt to your master is perhaps even more so.

Last but not least, people need to learn that often where there's mass debt - there's corruption and manipulation followed closely behind. Problem, reaction, solution - this is the sandwich making philosophy of any mastermind who has made issuing debt his profession. The person issuing the debt covertly creates the problem. People reactively panic as they go through the hardships of the problem. The person issuing the debt then comes up with the solution - issuing out debt. Through this destructive cycle the person issuing the debt comes across as the hero - and also profits rather handsomely.

Don't for a moment believe that this debt philosophy only applies to large governments and corporations. After all, most governments and corporations did start out small, all but to grow into a giant cancerous growth through applying this timeless method again and again. On a more personal level; while the people you know may never reach the level of Sir Evelyn De Rothschild, it's important that you understand that even amongst amateurs many play this game rather well on a smaller scale and show little remorse in doing so. You must always be leary of any individual who habitually issues out debts.

Debt is Immoral

Perhaps the question to ask is not is refusing to pay your debt immoral; instead we should ask is the concept of debt itself immoral? As far as I'm concerned; too many potential problems come in either accepting and/or distributing debt that doesn't justify the risks. To be frank; debt is a perverted relationship to have with another human being. Nothing good can ever hope to come from debt.

A lot of our problems are alleviated by not accepting debt in the first place. I make it my personal mission to never loan money to anyone else; nor to accept loaned money from someone else.

As for the argument that debt is necessary for the construction of civilization - correlation doesn't always equal causation. The debt accrued to build an enterprise could easily be applied through other means. In fact, there's nothing stopping a group of people with zero dollars in their pockets from starting a business as long as they have a genuine agreement to pay each other based upon their own productivity along the way. Of course doing so would involve many people to take a leap of faith in an attempt to achieve a goal greater than themselves - all for the sake of bettering themselves in the long run. Unfortunately, the majority of the population isn't ready to accept this burden. Whether they're ready or not may soon prove irrelevant - for there's a flood coming.

-Donovan D. Westhaver


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    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      6 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      It is factually false the Social Security (Social Insurance in Canada) is a Ponzi scheme. See:

      It is also false that it is a dead weight tax. It is an insurance program. Because I paid into it during my prime working years, I now have a little bit of income from the program. Thanks to that, even though I have less strength and stamina and my career is obsolete, reducing my employment opportunities at 69, I am not a beggar nor on pogey, and I can squeak by while I look for work (fruitlessly for months), write HubPages articles, and do volunteer work. Your saying that Social Security is a dead weight tax is another way of saying that you think people past their working prime are worthless and should go die of starvation and exposure. I'm not dead yet, and thanks to Social Security I'm not homeless or institutionalized either and am still productive and socially useful.

      And thanks to Social Security (into which my father paid throughout his working life, when my father died at age 63 and when the rare books he left in lieu of life insurance were destroyed in a natural disaster, my mother was not left destitute. Through frugal living that she learned in the Depression and WW2 years, with some help from her four adult children as needed, with the good fortune of having the mortgage on her little house paid up, and with Social Security, she was able to squeak by and have a life for more than another quarter century, albeit a simple life, bringing joy to friends and family and enjoying her hobbies. And to you she was dead weight?

      On the morality of debt question, I agree with poet Robert Service that "a promise made is a debt unpaid" and think the reverse is also true, that a debt is a promise and a debt intentionally not paid is a broken promise and thus a lie. But what if a debt is not paid unintentionally due to loss of income?

    • DonDWest profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

      OMGirdle, I agree, but we're debating the morality of debt (and whether it shoud be accepted or not). Morality goes a little further than who is at fault. Although from a legal stand point, an agreement is an agreement, be careful what you sign.

    • OMGirdle profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      I think we've wandered away from the topic :o

      Debt = Monkey On Back. But whose fault is it? The person who agreed to used it.

    • DonDWest profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada


      "Got a problem with SS, blame it on the politicians who have decided to raid it over and over again, not to leave it alone for those of us who put money into it."

      My only problem with it; is that it's essentially a Ponzi-scheme that people are forced to pay into (young or old) at the barrel of the government's gun. I'm perhaps one of the very few Liberals who see it for what it is; a dead weight tax. It's a tax that doesn't go towards building schools. The tax doesn't build highways or dams. The tax doesn't go to research and development. The tax doesn't go towards helping the sick; and in many ways hurts the working poor. The tax doesn't go towards national disaster relief. You get my drift; whether you believe or not the government should be paying for the following, my point is that SS (and it's similar concept in other Westernized countries) doesn't seem to be contributing to anything in its current state.

      'Might want to check again on those "home equity figures". Since 2006, home values have dropped about 25% according to the government. From personal experience, it more like 50%+ So much for the "sitting on home equity money".'

      I'm from Canada. Here the average home price is approaching 400K and our currency is on par with the USD. In some cities the average home price is 1 million plus. I'm told it's a bubble, but it's a bubble I've more than patiently waited to burst for over 12 years that doesn't show any signs of letting up. There comes a point where eventually we may have to acknowledge that this isn't a result of natural market forces; and that we're transitioning into feudalism. I'm afraid Canada has passed that fine line. The state is dwindling to that of India or China. If this doesn't change in a couple of years I may have to move out of Canada.

      Ironically, I may move to the United States. Same problems as Canada, so I'm well prepared, but the lesser of two evils. Thank goodness the government didn't bail out the foreclosures. Now home prices in the US will thankfully depress; allowing people to accept lower wages and maybe recover the economy. Still pissed off the you bailed out the banks though.

      "You complain at being in your 30's and not having enough energy? LOL - wait 10 to 20 years - it ain't going to be better!"

      I realize this fact, which is why I'm gravely concerned I'm still having the same problems at age 30 that I did at age 20.

      "Read about those that are successful without a college degree. Jobs, Gates - all became billionaires with no college degree."

      They grew up in a time period where it was more acceptable to go without college though. A lot has changed in just the past 10-20 years. I've interviewed a lot of people who were successful without college. When I ask them if they believe they could duplicate the same success today without college; usually I get a knee jerk response of either "I don't know" or simply "no." While they admit college is completely useless, the perception is that my generation should have a college degree, and if you don't have a college degree you must be a blithering idiot. It's very hard to pitch anything to anyone when the first impression is you're a blithering idiot.

      Another problem I have is the only way to become a successful entrepreneur today is to outsource to 3rd world countries. This doesn't rest well on my conscience; and I can't bring myself to do it. I wrote a Hub ("Do People Choose to be Poor?") on this very topic along with my internal struggles. I know this is debatable depending on people's perspectives - but I just can't bring myself to do it. I feel dirty merely considering it. I smell blood on my hands. When your back is against the wall, and you feel your only option out is to do something against every fibre of your morality; this isn't particularly pleasant to say the least. Until I can find a way to build success without having to outsource – I’m afraid I’ll have to accept the fact I’ll always struggle. I’m always open to hearing ideas around this though. . .

      "Debt is a two edged sword. Those who know how to manage it do well, while those that do not know how to manage debt end up not paying the lenders back."

      I'm starting to believe there's no such thing as good debt anymore. Mainly because the lenders can seemingly "change the rules" along the way without repercussions. . .

    • claptona profile image

      John D Wilson 

      7 years ago from Earth

      Wow, interesting comment to the comment Don,

      Well, I am one of those old duffs waiting for SS to start being doled out from all the money I put in over 40+ years of working.

      Got a problem with SS, blame it on the politicians who have decided to raid it over and over again, not to leave it alone for those of us who put money into it.

      Might want to check again on those "home equity figures". Since 2006, home values have dropped about 25% according to the government. From personal experience, it more like 50%+ So much for the "sitting on home equity money".

      You've been robbed by the politicians - as we all have. Government and their "great society" from the 60's has landed your generation into a world of debt and bailouts of corporate greed.

      I'm close to 60, trying to figure out how to survive in this idiotic world we live in.

      You complain at being in your 30's and not having enough energy?

      LOL - wait 10 to 20 years - it ain't going to be better!

      Read about those that are successful without a college degree.

      Jobs, Gates - all became billionaires with no college degree.

      If it was easy - if it came with out sacrificing sleep, without sacrificing time away from things that are more "fun" - everyone would be doing it.

      Most do not have the desire nor the discipline to accomplish the task.

      Expand your horizons, follow those that are successful and maybe you might get out of your "JOB".

      Debt is a two edged sword. Those who know how to manage it do well, while those that do not know how to manage debt end up not paying the lenders back.


    • DonDWest profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Vrajavala, it's a case of damn if you do; damn if you don't. I don't have a college degree. If I choose to work for someone else my income often hits a glass ceiling around 30k to 40k a year rather quickly. From there, I'm unable to advance much further, reasoning being from employers that its policy I must have a college degree to move ahead. That wage level would be fine in the country; unfortunately all the jobs are in the cities with huge cost of living expenses. I’m also dealing with run-away inflation.

      The result is I often find myself switching jobs every 2-3 years just to alleviate the feeling of stagnation, which can be depressing at such a young age. Unfortunately, jumping from one dead end job to another is sometimes the only way to "live a little."

      I tried to start a few businesses to get out of this funk, but after three failed business attempts, the exhaustion starts to set in. I don't know if I have the energy now entering my 30's to work "double full-time" (40 hours a week on a pay check job to pay the bills; and another 40+ hours on a business concept) that I used to in my early 20's. I simply need my 8 hours of sleep now.

      People have suggested I go to college now if I'm having trouble getting promoted. The problem is I have a horrible track record when it comes to college; and it's doubtful I could succeed unless I worked at college full time and then some. Consider also that if it's debatable whether college is a good return on investment at age 21; I doubt I would see a return on investment at age 34. The result is I would most likely earn around the same net worth per year once taxes/loans are calculated in; and I would be taking on a job with greater responsibilities. Overall, I would probably earn less net worth throughout my life, but the job quality might improve.

      Meanwhile, I'm also expected to heavily subsidize an older generation who "earns" more money than me through "home equity." I'm told that it's capitalism for people to earn big bucks just sitting their old ass in a house; while I toil away working for peanuts. I'm also told to "quit whining" and I should be "grateful" because my generation "never had it so good;" because we have an Apple I-Pod, *laughs*. Now I understand why all my male friends are going bold at age 25. I on the other hand have a full flock of hair that grows into a carpet within a couple of weeks; must be the genes. I hope I don't live too long. I would rather life be short and sweet than long and gruelling.

    • vrajavala profile image


      7 years ago from Port St. Lucie

      it's a sad thing that people sre "conned" into borrowing on the illusion of a better future.

      poverty pimps.

      look at all the kids who bought into the deception, now on OWS.

      it's really no different frim the Ford Foundation or Russell Simmons, Stanley Ann Dunham carrot and stck.

      the one trillion dollar "education bubble. "


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