January 27, 2008
-- by Dave Johnson
There is a discussion over at Calculated Risk on whether it is "smart" to just walk away from a house that is worth less than you owe. Many states allow you to do that, without owing the difference. In those states, giving the house back pays the loan in full if it is a first mortgage. (Yes, it ruins your credit rating, but you could save hundreds of thousands of dollars.)
What about the moral question? Aside from whether it is smart or not, is it moral? I wonder if a better question is, when dealing with a big corporation, should you ask what the corporation would do if the shoe was on the other foot? I'm thinking about corporations that use the bankruptcy laws to get rid of union contracts and pension obligations, and that always do the "smart" thing at the expense of the employees, customers, public and even shareholders...
What do you think? Especially our conservative commenters?
Posted by Dave Johnson at January 27, 2008 8:22 AM
TrackBack URL for this entry:
I'm no moral philospher, so I don't claim to know the answer. But I do have an opinion
I do believe that all non-human legal entities are amoral. That means they don't have the capacity to consider morality. This includes for-profit corporations, non-profit corporations, all levels of government, homeowner associations, etc.
In other words, any entity that has the right to sue or can be sued in a court of law, but is not actually a distinct human being, is an amoral actor in society. (Notice, I'm saying "amoral", not "immoral".)
The documentary film "The Corporation" does a great job of communicating this point in regards to for-profit corporations. The weakness of the film is that it fails to acknowledge that governments and non-profit corporations have the same flaw.
So, what's a "moral" individual to do when doing business with an amoral corporation or government?
My instinct tells me that the individual should act within the limits of his mortgage contract and within the limits of the law. Within those constraints, he should act in a way that most enhances his material well-being.
This means that "jingle mail" is fine as long as it's legal. The individual in the CR post may have committed fraud (read his post for the explanation). Fraud is a crime and should be prosecuted.
I believe crime is immoral except in the context of civil disobedience.
Post a comment
Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)