Debt morality

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AS PERSONAL debt begins to mount again, you wondered whether the lessons of the dangers of debt “have been forgotten already” (Editorial, 9 March). I’m not entirely sure that they were learnt in the first place.

Debt is a profoundly moral issue. Any business wishing to make money from personal loans must ask itself some searching questions. Do the loans contribute to the recipient’s wellbeing in the longer term, or are the lender’s profits at the expense of worry and threat of ruin for the recipient? Are people being helped to meet vital needs in straitened times, or enticed to take loans for trivialities such as holidays? Is the lender confident in the borrower’s ability to afford repayments, or happy to just secure the loan?

It will always be difficult to regulate this industry, so a shared culture of debt aversion is the best protection from debt-fuelled financial irresponsibility.

The moral perils of debt are a theme in Biblical moral teaching, but with Christian influence in society waning, and amoral individualism taking its place, many are left vulnerable at the mercy of enticing and intrusive offers of unnecessary loans.

Richard Lucas


Colinton, Edinburgh