Recently I posted a page here on debtors prison. The History of Credit & Debt – Debtors’ Prison. And then I came across some quotes that made me think how much the reality of debt troubles has not changed over time.
“The confinement … of any man in the sloth and darkness of a prison, is a loss to the nation, and no gain to the creditor. For, of the multitudes who are pining in those cells of misery, a very small part is suspected of any fraudulent act by which they retain what belongs to others. The rest are imprisoned by the wantonness of pride, the malignity of revenge, or the acrimony of disappointed expectation.” Samuel Johnson: Idler #22 (September 16, 1758)
So true, even today people in debt are thought of as taking advantage of the ‘system’ but I’ve rarely, if ever, me someone that knowingly sought to drive themselves into collections and bankruptcy. As with then, bad debt continues to happen to good people.
“Those who made the laws have apparently supposed, that every deficiency of payment is the crime of the debtor. But the truth is, that the creditor always shares the act, and often more than shares the guilt, of improper trust. It seldom happens that any man imprisons another but for debts which he suffered to be contracted in hope of advantage to himself, and for bargains in which proportioned his own profit to his own opinion of the hazard; and there is no reason, why one should punish the other for a contract in which both concurred.” Samuel Johnson: Idler #22 (September 16, 1758)
An excellent quote that describes the shared responsibility between creditor and debtor. When a debt becomes a problem it is never just the fault or responsibility of one party in a two party transaction. Creditors grant credit with contracts filled with absolutes but life has never operated that way.
And while in most of the world, debtors’ prison is a relic of the past, it is not gone entirely. Even today a person can be arrested and imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates and Dubai for debt problems.