Patricia A. O'Malley
Social Policy & Programs Consulting    ~    Community Matters
P.O. Box 97803    ~    Pittsburgh, PA  15227   ~    412-310-4886    ~
Copyright Patricia A. O'Malley    ~    All rights reserved
Established 1993​​

Futile Efforts to Abolish Consumer Debt
Americans need to learn what our schools refuse to teach.
​May 1, 2020


Public unrest is growing.  Drive-by demonstrators demand that the government cancel rent, mortgage, student loans, utilities, and other debt.  Sorry folks, that’s unconstitutional.

People aren’t working.  People are sick.  People are dying.  Our government is in shambles.  Many lives are in shambles.  Capitalism deliberately causes pain to the many so that the few can thrive.  I get it.  I care. 

But if we ignore the foundation of our society, we will have nothing left.

The Constitution’s Fifth Amendment says:
No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

That means that if the government takes your private property, it must pay you market value for it.  It usually refers to real estate, but it can include any property.  We take property through eminent domain.  That due process takes several years, even when there is no major opposition.  The courts must handle each case individually. 

We can’t simply cancel everything without process and compensation.

Your lease, mortgage, credit cards, loans, utilities, and all other debts are based on contracts.  Your debts are the corporations’ accounts receivable.  They  are corporate assets – their property. 

Yes, I know that corporations aren’t really people.  But property law treats them as such.

“No State shall enter into any … Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts …. “

(US Constitution.  Article I.  Section 10.  Clause 1.) 

The government can not simply cancel all private debt.
So you can beep-beep all you want, but it won’t happen.

Our founders surely didn’t envision the present situation when they wrote those parts, but they’re still  good parts.  Yes, they protect the big corporations’ property.  They also protect YOU from a government which could blithely take your house, your car, your money, and everything else you own.  It protects everyone.  Isn’t that what we all claim to want?

Yes, people are more important than profits.  We have a long way to go before we see economic justice. It doesn’t matter what I want.  Or what you want.  The law is what it is. 

If you don’t like it, you are free to follow the amendment process defined in Article V. 

That will take a billion dollars and at least ten years of serious community organizing.

Fortunately, there is movement toward a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures,  and

some debt collections.  Those are legal processes, and are controlled by state laws. 

There are precedents for those actions.  Yes, I know.  People still need to live. 

The one percent wins all the time because they know how government works and how to influence it.  The 99 percent loses all the time because most of us are clueless. We run around like headless chickens, and then can’t figure out why we keep fighting the same fights.   Yes, I know, it’s frustrating.  It’s agonizing.   

Life is not like your TV.  Stuff takes time.  It will take us years to reach our goals.  And that’s if we’re properly organized and good at it.  It took 99 years to get from the abolition of slavery to the Civil Rights Act. 

Armies and sports teams rely on one thing above all others – basic training in the fundamentals.  Instead of tilting at windmills, we must train our troops how to fight for real economic justice.  Americans need to learn what our schools refuse to teach.  Americans need to learn how America works.  Then we can really accomplish something.

​First, don’t give up.  Focus on what’s possible.  Those who served in the military or held jobs in government swore an oath to uphold the United States Constitution.  With all this extra time on your hands, surely you have one hour to read the document that you swore to uphold.  Even if you never took that oath, read it anyway.  You are an American adult.  It’s your duty to know how your government works.  

After that, you can move on to more detailed matters. 

Through my Community Matters articles, I use the Constitution and current events to teach American government – civics.  

I explain the history, rationale, and policies shaping government operations.  I don’t report the news.  I explain it. 

Take a few moments now to browse through the contents.  I guarantee you’ll find at least one intriguing topic.

Community Matters is free, easy, and available to all.
Each one, teach one.  Teach your children.  And keep up the good fight.

Read the Constitution
Read Community Matters
Defective Teaching Methods Produce American Political Ignorance
Understanding Eminent Domain

Contact Pat for email notice of all new Community Matters articles.


Patricia A. O'Malley

Social Policy & Programs Consulting

Training and Services for agencies working toward social and economic justice