The Dollar Vigilante has a new feature — a monthly advice column called “Dear Slavey.” It started off with a bang on July 2, when “Slavey” advised some poor credit-card serf to “Just. Don’t. Pay.”
No surprise, this drew feedback and some heated back-and-forthing about the morality of keeping one’s pledges.
Slavey’s position is that banks are corrupt from top to bottom and unilaterally change their “agreements” with us at will, so eff ’em all. Besides, businesses walk away from billions of dollars in debt without an eyeblink.
He does warn, however, that in some states you can now be sent to jail for not paying even supposedly unsecured debt (e.g. credit cards). And isn’t it ironic that the Land of the Free is reintroducing debtors prison (albeit under a different pretext) at the very time bankers are swindling entire countries and paying no consequences?
Paying no consequences? Heck, they’re reaping rewards.
And now we’ve got the LIBOR scam, whose teeny little iceberg tip reveals a pervasive cynicism in the banking industry that some say should, or will, be the death of banking. The murder of trust, it’s been called. But was trust still breathing, even before that?
So … back to the question posed in the headline: Would YOU stiff a bank? Would you walk out on your credit card payments or walk away from institutional debt of any sort? “Just. Don’t. Pay”?
We freedomistas have always saluted the sanctity of contracts. Most of us have scoffed at people who get themselves into ridiculous levels of debt. We tend to have fine, high senses of honor. Most of us, I suspect, would plunk down to our last dollar on a debt, just to be the kind of person we can stand to look at in the mirror.
Or at least that’s the way it’s been in the past.
But are we being honorable — or are we just being played for a bunch of suckers? Are we upholding the values of free markets (even as the folks on the other end of the deal no longer do)? Or are we just rubes playing by the rules in a casino that no longer even bothers to pretend that the game isn’t rigged?
Would YOU walk away? Would YOU stiff a bank?