The Morality of Debt
Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk on the morality of debt.
It's been some time coming but the Greek debt crisis is reaching a climax. On one level this is an issue of political brinkmanship and economics, but at its heart there are profound moral questions. The moral hazard is plain to see - especially if you're a German tax payer faced with funding a seemingly bottomless pit of debt while the Greek's themselves refuse to recognise their obligations. But how moral was it for the European Union and the European Central Banks to not only happily turn a blind eye to the escalating Greek debt, but to keep on offering them more loans? And finally there's you and I and every one of us and our attitude to money and debt. The reality is that we're drowning in a sea of debt. Personal debt levels are at an all-time high. The idea of scrimping and saving until you can afford to buy something seems impossibly old fashioned in our "have it now - pay for it sometime later" society. Pension providers have been overwhelmed by people wanting to cash in and spend their savings - with holidays being the most popular choice. So much more immediately gratifying than prudently planning for an old age. And when it goes wrong of course there are those who will blame it all on politicians, greedy bankers and venal financial advisors. But the banks have to lend to someone and there were two consenting adults in the transaction. Or is money morally neutral - a token of exchange which should carry no burden of judgement? What is the morality debt?