The idea of a debt-free society starts from one recognizing a few simple principles:
> Debt is slavery
> Wealth is measured in freedom, not currency
> One becomes indebted when they cannot or will not provide for themselves, and thus become dependent on the "lender"
> One becomes debt-free when they consistently provide value to others, and manage their resources wisely
A debt-free society, therefore, is a society that seeks and promotes freedom, starting with an individual and building up to all social relationships. A debt-free society further seeks to help its members become more capable of providing for themselves and others.
This concept is ancient, and was recognized thousands of years ago in Proverbs 22:7 - "The borrower is slave to the lender." The person who has the means to provide, has the option to decide whether to lend or not. This could be a person or an organization (i.e. a bank) that lends to you, or it can also be an arrangement like socialism, in which you eternally "owe" the state for the things it is providing for "free." The state of indebtedness, therefore, is the state of being unable to provide for yourself, depending on another for that provision, and as such, being required to agree to the provider's terms.
A culture of indebtedness, or an "indebted society," occurs when a sufficiently large number of people are living in a state of debt. When this happens, time horizons shift from the future (how does this decision/policy/etc. affect us a generation from now) to the present (I need something today!). Also, "wealth" stops being measured in terms of freedom, and instead in terms of current income. It also leads to the mindset that one cannot achieve success without the "lender." How often do you hear phrases like this?
> How can I get a good job without taking on loans to go to college?
> How can my city build a park without a bond?
> How can we get a house without a 30 year mortgage?
With all of these, notice the "gatekeeper" mentality. In other words, one cannot have a "nice thing" unless some provider gives it to them. This mentality short-circuits any possible solutions that allow someone to find real answers.
I think the greatest mistake of my generation (Millenials), and arguably of the two generations before, was confusing wealth with current income. After becoming debt-free myself, I quickly learned that wealth is instead measured in freedom. If, for example, a doctor earns $300,000 per year but has $800,000 in debt between a mortgage, student loans, and car loans, they are in fact poorer than a software developer earning $80,000 who has a paid-off house, no other debt and $100,000 in savings. One has the ability to walk away from a bad job, retrain, and find a new job or even new industry, while the other is one missed paycheck away from losing everything. One is in a better position to give and lift others up, and the other has to do everything they can just to survive.
This also applies to communities. When the people of a community are in debt, they depend on the local government as a sort of lender to grant them the resources they need (jobs, housing, schools, and so on). In return for the goods, people then become tax slaves. While it is easy to rant about cities using police as "revenue rangers," or about high property taxes, we have to remember first that the city is likely itself a debt slave (municipal bonds), and that it was put into that position by indebted people who are hoping for someone else to provide for their housing, education, jobs, and so on.
If debt is about dependence on a "gatekeeper" in the form of a lender or the state, then being debt-free is about not needing the gatekeeper. Individually it means taking control of your own life, and of your family. At a larger community level, it means individuals coming together to solve problems directly, making their own institutions as they do.
When this activity extends beyond the "founding fathers" and into a few generations, we get culture, we get the historic streets and places (like the one pictured), we get the universities, private societies, churches, and other place that make a society truly great.
A debt-free society cannot be given by a "dear leader." It can only come when brought about by men who choose to be the leader over their own lives, and then by cooperating to improve themselves and their local community directly. Here are just a few examples of the transition from indebted to debt-free:
> Free time shifts from "escaping from paycheck-to-paycheck horror" to "giving time to improve lives"
> Giving moves from "Big Charity" to individuals having the time to form real giving relationships
> Community parks, schools, and other such amenities are built from local savings and investment funds, not from city bonds.
> "Without the government, who would ...?" changes to "We Will"
The main thing that holds us back is debt and the mindset that goes with it! We must destroy the chains of our own debts, and then make debt-free status readily achievable to as many people as possible!
Check out the Debt Free Society group here on Minds, where we are talking about how to bring about a debt-free society.