Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The New Scarlet Letter

What if there were a stigma attached to being in debt for an accumulation of worthless items? In The Scarlet Letter, a woman accused of adultery is sentenced to wear a scarlet letter on her dress. What if the scarlet letter were D for debt and not A for adultery? If we all had to wear a symbol of our financial acuity on our chest, would it change how we handled our finances?

How 'bout the mental image you get from that passage? It's from Jon Hanson's 2005 book Good Debt, Bad Debt, and I find it fabulously amusing.

Something tells me that big ol' "D" would show up in a great many unexpected places.

(I'd say something about a neon version of it hanging over our government's rotunda doors in Washington, suitable for clear viewing from airliners and satellites, but that's a rant for another time.)

If our personal debts came into full public view in this way, do you think it would change things? If so, how? We are a country fairly obsessed with outward appearance, after all. Quite a few of us work real hard at giving the impression of success ... at all costs. It'd suddenly become pretty tough to pull that off, wouldn't it?

That soccer mom sliding out of her new Escalade — chrome wheels and all — now she's also sporting a big red "D" plastered on the front of her shirt. And it isn't her son's middle-school team's logo, either.

Oh yeah. I grin just thinking about it.

— Posted by Michael @ 12:43 AM


I'm loving that idea. Imagine how the facades would just...disappear.


Reading the feed I thought YOU had that idea and I thought how perfect...and felt great affection for your ways ;)

It *is* a rather enticing idea....


Would this scarlet letter apply to any and all debt, or would it just apply to those of us with negative net worths? I'd get a letter with the first method, none with the second.

Great idea, though.



The quoted paragraph is like a lot of others from that particular book -- an interesting mini-concept that never gets fleshed out. (Not that it's probable to start with.)

Myself, I'd have been sporting the big red "D" for roughly ten years. I suspect you'd be very hard-pressed to find someone whose wardrobe had never been ... marked.


In which case, IMHO, the letter wouldn't mean a thing.

In fact, those without it might end up those stigmatized.

** Comments Closed on this Post **

Thoughts on my personal finances, goals, experiences, motivations, and accomplishments (or lack thereof).

My financial life began turning around when I took responsibility for it.
— Dave Ramsey


Start (2005-12): ~$21,900
Currently: $0
[About Our Debt Paydown]


Savings Goal: $15,000
Currently: ~$15,115
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