What do Abe Lincoln, Kim Basinger, Henry Ford, Walt Disney, and Toni Braxton all have in common? Other than being Americans and also human beings (although the jury is still out on Walt), they all filed for bankruptcy.
No one aspires to someday file for bankruptcy. We all want to be athletes, or veterinarians, or rock stars, or doctors. And there’s always that one weird kid who wants to be an attorney. But even though they don’t teach us about it in school, the fact is that some people from all walks of life do file for bankruptcy when they grow up.
A Last Resort
Usually when you think about resorts, it’s a good thing. You picture your toes in the sand, maybe you’re sipping on a cocktail. Or maybe it’s a Swiss Chalet, with a view of the Alps out your window.
When it comes to bankruptcy, you aren’t thinking of the fun kind of resort. Rather, it’s the only kind of resort no one enjoys – the last resort.
Most people don’t file bankruptcy just because they are having a bit of difficulty paying their bills. In fact, they have probably tried every other option first, before even thinking about thinking about bankruptcy. And when it’s your last resort, typically you have no choice but to file. So unless your one of the rare few who file bankruptcy just because it’s the easy way out of debt that you could afford to pay anyway, don’t beat yourself up about it.
America the Beautiful
There are alternatives to allowing people to file for bankruptcy. But they are dark, ugly, and for the most part, inhumane.
The founding fathers – love them or hate them, you definitely have to be glad they chose to include bankruptcy in the constitution itself. It’s a constitutional right! As brief of a document as the constitution is, why did they choose to specifically address something like bankruptcy?
We all know that the constitution was created with Merrie Olde England in mind. We rebelled against the king, and had no interest in allowing any of the king’s oppressive rules to be a part of our culture.
One scary English institution we wanted to avoid was debtor’s prison. People like Charles Dickens’ father got to spend time there because he couldn’t afford to pay his debts. Many otherwise upstanding citizens spent time in prison along side common criminals simply because they couldn’t pay creditors back.
The founding fathers wanted to avoid this entanglement entirely. They felt that prison was unnecessary for people who simply ran into financial trouble. Allowing citizens to file for bankruptcy kept innocent people from having to wallow away in prison just because they were in debt.
Again – if you are filing for bankruptcy, don’t beat yourself up about it. Be happy you have it as a choice, instead of debtor’s prison as a punishment.