21st Century Debtors Prisons
Fortunately, despite Cleveland County, NC Republican Tim Moore’s best efforts to help his poor, defenseless corporate buddies, debtors’ prisons in the United States are unconstitutional. But wage-garnishment to enforce the payment of a private debt? That’s Moore’s plan. A plan for the government to involve itself (on the side of creditors) in the business of collecting private debts. Modern day debtors’ prison, ladies and gents.
Moore’s proposed law to allow wage-garnishment for the repayment of private debts is a terrible and frightening idea. Most States, including North Carolina, rejected such laws long ago. Some States have declared them unconstitutional. Most States recognize that it is in their and our best interests to stay out of the private debt-collection business.
Think about what it means if such a law were to exist? From the employer’s point of view: She has to contend with paychecks for all her employees anyway; some of those employees are already subject to wage-garnishment for child support or back-taxes; now the employer has to contend with withholding money from her employees’ paychecks to repay the furniture rental place, the used car dealer, Banana Republic, and the doctor’s office; and presumably, the employer also has to contend with making sure this money gets to the right place. From the employee’s point of view: He (and I need say no more than this) has to deal with his employer knowing a part of his private life that he has every right to keep private — especially from his employer. From both their points of view: This unwanted-by-both-knowledge of such an intimate fact forever changes their relationship with each other; the employee is worried that the employer will make decisions based on her knowledge of his embarrassing debt problems — am I going to be fired? Why didn’t I get that promotion? The employer is worried that the employee is worried about all these things. The employer might want to fire this employee for other reasons but is afraid to do so for fear of being accused of firing him for his debt. The employer, knowing his debt problems, really might not promote the employee to a position that she would have otherwise promoted him to. The employer might actually fire the employee because of his debt . The employer might be allowed to fire the employee for this reason. The scenarios go on and on.
But you know what’s so wonderfully ironic about this whole thing? It’s a Republican (not that the Democrats are much better), a member of the less-government party, who wants this law. That’s right, the same ones baying for less government regulation, less government intrusion in our lives. They’re the ones who want the government to (goose)step in and help corporations collect their debts from ordinary people. Because, you know, they’re a clever bunch. The “people” they’re trying to shield from government intrusion aren’t people like you and me, they’re people or persons in the legal sense; persons with the word “Inc.” after their names. Businesses. The bigger the better. But this same anti-government-in-the-name of-unregulated-corporate-freedom champion couldn’t give a rats ass about government intrusion into a person’s individual freedom, his house — your freedom, your house, your private life, your body, your liberty, your right to be left alone by the government, your constitutional rights, your human rights. That’s not the kind of “person” Tim Moore has in mind when he’s whining about less government. And his proposal for this 21st century debtor’s prison proves it and (and this is what really sticks in my craw … and I love it) it proves his political stripe’s hypocrisy too.