Eleutheros on Debt

Dateline: 14 November 2008
Updated: 15 December 2014

Careful now!

I very much enjoy reading the blog How Many Miles From Babylon (the blog is no longer at that link), which is authored by a man who calls himself Eleutheros (the word is Greek for ‘free man’). Eleutheros lives the life of agrarian simplicity in southern Appalachia, but this man is no simpleton.

In a recent essay about the current economic crisis and ‘Eleutheronomics,’ the reader feedback and ensuing discussion is as thought-provoking and enjoyable to read as the essay that prompted it.

For example, one reader asked this question:

Once in debt, how does one become free?  Let’s take for example someone 18 years of age that graduated from HS and went to college running up tens of thousands of dollars in debt, then moves to a city to get a job and racks up a hundred thousand more to buy a house. All these things were what the parents of the person said was the wisest things to do.

The response from Eleutheros was, well, typical Elutheros...

If someone said, "I was foolish in handling my 12 ga. shotgun loaded with 00 and I accidentally shot off my right foot. What do I do?"

Answer: You limp through life with no right foot.

There are certain things you cannot easily undo. So if you followed the wisdom of people you trusted, that’s a pity. Turns out it was really bad advice. Sucks to be you.

But having said that, I’m very happy to walk along with people who are limping on one foot, no matter the reason for their demise.

If you’ve been foolish, don’t be foolish any more.

One’s philosophy should feel no constraint to accommodate every form of foolishness. I can describe to you how to mow a field with a scythe. It doesn’t follow that the description must also cover how to do it if you only have one foot.

To the person you describe I’d say, “Get out of debt.” It won’t be as easy on you as it is on someone who has never gone into debt, but people do it all the time.


rob said...

$70,000 dollars later and one Masters degree, I must say this is sound advice indeed.

The degree while a satisfying accomplishment pales in comparison to the cost, and no matter who tells you, you will most likely NOT immediately grab up a job making six figures a year.

Learn from my own foolishness and learn how to swing a scythe instead, much more rewarding, and you can eat the product. Parchment tastes foul no matte what the topping.

Grady Phelan said...

It is well known that one of the issues faced my generation (as well as all generations) is peer pressure. Making the decision to go to college is not exempt from this pressure. It might be logical and easy at times to say no to drugs, but it seems illogical for my generation to say no to college.

I went to college. Studied zoology and philosophy and where did it get me? To an apprenticeship that had no prerequisite of a college education. Luckily I made it our without any debt, but most of my college buddies did not.

Why are we spending so much money on educations that sometimes provide very little direct improvement on job finding? I think mostly peer pressure. We have somehow began to look down on anyone without a college degree. I even catch myself doing it now that I have one.

What A Shame

Allen Shropshire said...

Why not take all that time, energy and money, and instead of sending your kid off to college - and buy him a house, or help him build his own. Then with no mortgage he can begin his family debt free and it won't matter that he get a high paying job to take care of things. I think that is sound higher education.
Allen Shropshire

Randy said...

I agree w/ Allen. Proverbs says "Houses and riches are from fathers...", and also "a good man leaves an inheritance to his childrens' children".

There is nothing wrong with acquiring a higher level education, but it should be prioritized within the context of a (future) family.