For one of our sessions with the Freedom from Debt Coalition, we were shown a documentary about illegitimate debts all over the world, mainly focused on Greece. The documentary, “Debtocracy”, defines illegitimate or odious debts as those debts incurred for reasons other than for the betterment of a state’s citizens. When certain debts incurred are declared illegitimate, the country must no longer use taxpayer’s money to repay the outstanding debt. After all, why should taxpayers pay for causes that will not benefit them? Isn’t that why we pay taxes in the first place?
From the documentary, a good example of illegitimate debt is what Greece had incurred after its seemingly “failed” attempt at creating an extremely profitable olympic games. The government took out loans to build infrastructure and attend to the preparations needed. However, this loan does not intend on improving the welfare of the Greek citizens. Thus, the olympic debt is considered to be illegitimate, so taxpayers’ money must not be used to bail the country out of it.
However, one of the most repeated phrases in the documentary talks about how the “citizens are part of it (debt)”. Why? Because the citizens are responsible for voting the decisions makers (presidents, prime ministers, department secretaries) into power. Not only is this very true, but it should serve as a lesson for people all over the world- our votes are of value, and if we want a better-managed government, we must vote for those we deem best decision-makers into power, avoiding these illegitimate debts in the process.