In today’s age, we do not necessarily have “debt slaves” that must work for another in order to pay off accumulated debts; instead, we have loans that must be paid off over the course of a long period of time. This is especially apparent with college students; college tuition costs an exorbitant amount of money, which is not paid off immediately, but over the course of many years. Although this is much more forgiving and lenient than being forced into slavery in order to make up for the debts that one has accumulated, there is still a debt that needs to be paid by the student to the college, and if that debt is not paid, then that student will end up in sticky financial situation. Yes, the prices to attend college may seem to be quite extreme, but it is ultimately up to the person in question to attend said college; the choice to take on the burden of the debt is made by the student. Thus, it is their responsibility to pay back that debt, for the college that they attend will put resources into making sure that person obtains the education that they signed up to receive. As we have seen from Solon waiving debt through the seisachtheia, the outcome of forgiving loans today will only result in more negatives than positives.
As Plutarch recounts in his collection of biographies The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Greek Lives, this decision was negative for both the rich and poor: the rich lost their promised debts from the debtors, and the poor did not receive redistributed land or any form of support or imbursement. The rich were slightly less rich, and the poor remained poor, but were not going to get any poorer. On top of this, some of Solon’s closest friends took advantage of his law by taking land loans from others before his law went into effect and then keeping those lands after he initiated the law. Essentially, they stole the lands from the creditors. This leads to my view of the forgiveness of loans: theft.
I believe that it would cause the colleges to lose great amounts of funding that would be used to further improve the schools and programs. And not only this, but if, like Solon’s law, debts were to be erased for good – as in no one will have debt again – then people would take advantage of this and continuously use up resources without paying it back. Yes, I understand that students would be free of debt if this occurred, which is a major benefit to them, but as I mentioned previously, the students make the decision to undertake this debt. If they do not have a proper means of alleviating that debt, then they should consider an alternative plan of receiving an education that would require a less burdensome debt to undertake. Likewise, colleges should find a means of reducing their tuition prices so that students do not accumulate an immense amount of debt that they will struggle to pay off. I am not sure what constitutes their grand prices, but it should be made a point to reduce these prices, so that we do not need to come to these kinds of solutions. Otherwise, propositions to waive debts would not be beneficial to colleges and students alike in the long term.
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Plutarch. The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Greek Lives. Penguin Books, 1960.