Is Debt a Four-Letter Word?


And he's right. There was a time when you'd have to go into a bank to borrow money, and face a loan officer you might even know. You would have to explain why you wanted it, and represent yourself as being able to pay it back.

"There was shame attached to not paying back your debts," explained Schurenberg.

But with the popularity of credit cards in the 1970s, things began to change.

Dave Ramsey said we have become an instant gratification culture.

"I want it! I want it! I want it! I want it right now!" he said.

"It doesn't matter if you're 14 or you're 54. There's some stupidity to buying stuff [with] money you don't have."

But people do it anyway, and Rick Doane has to put his 400 bill collectors to work. And even that isn't a solution, because most of what is owed, is never paid.

"On average, about 20 percent of what is out there, we'll collect, as an industry," estimated Doane.

At the end of the day, Doane believes his industry does do some good.

" I am truly proud to be a collector," he said. "I truly believe there's a huge difference that we make. We get thank you letters, each and every day, from debtors who say, 'thank you, thank you for helping me through this.'"

It's All Based on Trust

The fact is America was built on debt. Business loans allowed entrepreneurs to create all the enterprises that make our lives better. Borrowing in the form of mortgages has allowed millions of Americans to realize their dream of owning a home.

But it's all based on trust. Trust that a borrower will pay the money back. When borrowers don't pay it back it makes it tougher for all of us to get that mortgage, finance the car or build a business. So the bill collectors do us all a favor. They help make the system work.

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