Money is concept which has always been a cause of conflict, since human beings began using it as a form of societal operation. Before currency existed, farmers used salt, sheep (and other live stock) and silk textiles as forms of payment.* If one farmer owed a debt to another farmer, but was unable to meet the full payment, the farmer had a few options:
- Give up his land to the other farmer
- Give his wife to the other farmer*
- Become an indentured servant until the other farmer felt the debt was paid, or possibly the remainder of the debt-laden farmers life
- All of the Above (depending on the severity of the debt and the personalities involved)
Through the passing of time, improvements in technology, and the craftiness of humans to control other humans, repercussions for being in arrears were modified. Many readers have heard the term “debtor’s prison”, a concept which seems to reveal itself quite frankly. There are locations across the world which still hold debtor’s prisons, however, in the 21st Century, many first world nations have retired debtor’s prisons as forms of punishment.
This is a positive force, many people may think: to take away a debtor’s prison is an increased step on the path to human rights. Debtor’s prison, believe me when I say this: Is in fact a crucial part to upholding a fair society. The alternative to a social system that includes debtor’s prisons result in a society with social stigmas that people have unfortunately been struck with in today’s world: individuals replete with debt, most certainly sorrow, and severe loneliness to cap it all off. Exactly what social conditions am I referring to? Poverty (Or near Poverty) and Homelessness. The title of this post is “Credit Cards: A Silent Enemy to Humanity.” Thus far, I have not spoken about credit cards, which in themselves may not be evil, but similar to topics such as alcohol, tobacco, and firearms* have disastrous outcomes if used improperly (namely poverty and homelessness).
Before the invention of credit cards* individuals of first, second, and some third world nations survived on regional currency and if an individual wanted to buy a product, but could not afford it, or found themselves financially destitute (or near that financial state of being) the individual would set up an arrangement with the merchant (seller/storeowner) where the buyer would be able to pay partially, and the rest of the payment would be considered “On Credit”: Over the course of time a buyer would pay off the debt, and if he/she missed the payment, or was unable to pay off the amount due, interest was added; very similar to the functioning of a credit card. If the buyer was unable to make any further payments on this arrangement, he/she was considered a criminal and placed in a debtor’s prison as punishment.
To myself, (Brian Berger) this arrangement seems fair: A workable system, that hosts specific boundaries, and does not berate and severely neglect its own citizens; however, with the passing of time, systems that once worked begin to crumble as is with current systems of the 21st Century (In this post I am referring to the haywire caused by credit cards). This is not to say that the absence of credit cards would eliminate the notion of debt. However, if the formerly used method of debtor’s prisons were still in use, the world would not experience the impoverishment of human life quality that it has been recently plagued with. The world’s problems would not be completely solved, under any circumstances, however they would be heavily remedied: There would be more sightings of cash flow among the public; not to the extent that we would all be winners*, but society at large would be able to retain its stability.
If, in an alternate universe you were to have served in a debtor’s prison, you ought not be ashamed; You may spend anywhere from 6 months to 25 years in a debtor’s prison, depending on the imagined debt you are accountable for. I am sure that nine out of ten people would prefer a debtor’s prison, after which, you could go about your life without bad credit, or a criminal record, (concerning your personal debt only) as opposed to a life of misery, loneliness, constant fear and hunger.
The credit card is an invention which does not get the notoriety it deserves. “Neither a borrower, Nor Lender be” wrote Shakespeare in Hamlet; concerning credit card users (borrowers) and credit card companies (lenders), and the insufferable consequences therein, Shakespeare was correct.
* I did not specify specific time periods, places, or cultures, though I intend for you (the reader) to think about those concepts in general terms.
*Through the course of human history women were not exactly slaves, but were thought of as inferior to the status of their husbands (I am not arguing about the injustices of male dominance, I am just making a clarification)
* I am NOT making a reference to the U.S. Dept. of Alcohol Tobacco and Fire Arms, however these concepts fit well into my post
* I did not specify the facts about the history of credit cards, because that is not the message I am attempting to deliver in this blog. If you wish to find information on the history of credit cards you can do research outside of humansarewe.com
*For the definition of winners, as I Brian Berger have discussed formerly, Please see my Post: “We can’t all be winners in life” Also on humansarewe.com