[Knock! Knock! Knock!]
“Yes, what is it?”
“Good afternoon, citizen. I'm sorry to bother you like this, but I've run up a substantial personal debt merely by spending more than I take in and I'm now faced with the distressing prospect of having to earn more or accustom myself to reduced circumstances.
“Since neither of these two options appeals to me, I thought I'd venture out into the community and go door to door asking complete strangers to assume all or part of my financial obli–”
No, that probably wouldn't work – unless you had the force of government behind you, and the citizens you were supposed to serve, but were treated like serfs, had to comply.
With debtors prisons a thing of the past, cash-strapped individuals and companies can always declare bankruptcy when they run out of options, but they wouldn't have to resort to that if they could just fob off their bills on strangers the way governmental bodies do.
The strangers in question are us, the taxpayers, who keep getting stuck with bills run up by politicians and bureaucrats oblivious to how much money they waste or how much debt they amass, because it's not their money and they're never held accountable for it.
Bankruptcy is an option for spendthrift governmental entities, too, – an option that probably should be exercised more often. Not only to get taxpayers off the hook for debt they did not knowingly or willingly incur, but also to make it harder for the next set of elected or appointed wastrels and grafters to do it to us again.
Debt restructuring might just be the best option for the improvident Collinsville Area Recreation District (CARD) with its multimillion-dollar debt.
"If this was a business, I would have had them in bankruptcy a long time ago," says Paul Evans, former attorney for the house of CARD's.
Better late than never, though – if only to send a signal.