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.