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Question: Would you like us to pay all your debts off for you?

Question: Would you like us to pay all your debts off for you?

Yes, we thought as much. A Qatari survey showed a whopping 73 percent of respondents would like the state to write off their bank loans. No surprise there, then.

July 11, 2010 3:05 by reports the results of a survey undertaken by the Arabic daily Al Sharq that asked Qatari citizens if they would like the government to write-off their outstanding bank loans. The answer, you won’t be surprised to hear, was a resounding yes. Seventy three percent of respondents said that yes, actually, they would quite like that.

The shocking thing about the results of the survey is probably not that it was so high, but that it was so low. Surely everybody with debts would like them paid off, wouldn’t they? Yet 27 percent of respondents were opposed to the idea. Kipp’s reaction was probably a lot like yours. We thought: “Are they mad?” But the truth is, those anti-debt-clearance voters have a number of good arguments on their side.

First, absolving people of their debts sets an unhealthy precedent. How many of those people will go straight out and borrow a load more? And where will they spend it?

Not only would this defeat the original purpose – to free nationals of their debt burden – but it could also have a detrimental effect to the country’s economy but creating inflation when these people go out and spend, spend, spend.

Second, couldn’t that the money may be better invested in infrastructure and public services? From this there would also be a benefit to nationals, but it will be a benefit to the greater good, rather than each individual’s.

But the final argument for Kipp is the most persuasive. If you remove a person’s debt, you also absolve them of their personal responsibility to repay the debt. And that is really dangerous, because if you start eroding a person’s responsibility towards society, you start eroding society itself.

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