A Humanitarian Dream

We filed our tax returns today, and it put me in budget mode. I am weighing the things we want to buy with our refund (bedroom furniture for the girls!) vs. the debt we owe. There is quite a bit owed because living the dream doesn’t always start out glamorously. Adding up all of the overlooked bills and outstanding fees, I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with something other than the amount owed. Why did all of these debts end up in so many different hands? Why are there businesses that build a foundation on paying our bills so they can harass us until we can pay them back? I will admit, I don’t know a ton about debt collectors or their jobs, but what if instead of spending their resources hounding people for money, they had a more compassionate goal? Instead of debt collection agencies, what if we had debt forgiveness agencies?

Imagine that you are organizing your budget/finance information. You’re digging through and crunching numbers when you come across a hospital bill that you don’t recall paying. You hardly remember even seeing this bill. You feel anxious, and start stressing about where you can make a compromise to fit in these new payments. You call the hospital to set up a plan, and they ask if you would like to apply for a forgiveness. A what? They tell you the forgiveness works like a cross between a financial aid and a debt collection. You fill out an application, and if approved the agency will take care of your bill!

I am a dreamer deep in my soul, but I do have a bit of logic in my noggin. There are quite a few questions I have raised in my own head already, such as:

  • How do you keep people from taking advantage?
  • How do you determine who is eligible?
  • Who is funding it?
  • Who is going to do all of that work?

1. Having an application system in place would hopefully keep most people from taking advantage of this generous practice. Just like entering a sweepstakes for a chance to win, the only harm in trying is that there is no guarantee. In my semi-utopian fantasy, these agencies will sometimes contact hospitals and pay a number of bills without being asked. What a pleasant surprise that would be! It would be a small miracle for many people to find that a money fairy took care of their debt.

2. The process of choosing which applicants to accept could be any level of difficulty, I suppose, depending on who is in charge. Perhaps it will work more like financial aid, in which they determine whether to accept or not based on income and other factors. Perhaps they will focus on different areas of health at different times, and accept more bills for that unit. There are plenty of ways to determine acceptance, even if it comes down to a matter of the heart.

3. Who is funding it? Someone with a mind for business and a heart for the people. I am sure there is money in it somewhere. The right person just has to strike the gold.

4. There are people working for collections agencies making hundreds of calls day to collect money from people and making no progress. Like I mentioned earlier, I am not totally sure about all the happenings in a collections agency as far as employment. I do imagine that any work they are doing can be replaced by this more charitable version. So many people work at jobs that they don’t believe in. This could be a chance to get paid doing work that helps people in a very necessary way. Transfer the debt and share the wealth!

It isn’t a perfect plan, or even a fully formed idea. With some brainstorming, some planning, and an open heart, this could grow into something beautifully generous. It is a true humanitarian dream. It takes the burden of debt from the shoulders of people who cannot afford it. It opens up jobs for workers who want to help their communities. My favorite part is that it has the ability to work miracles in the lives of people who owe ridiculous debt. This world is whatever reality we want it to be. It doesn’t have to be such a “pay bills or struggle” kind of world. If people were flowers, even a small drop of water will offer some nourishment. Instead of throwing dust on the flowers, let’s work together to water them.

If you have an idea that seems dreamy and utopian, don’t let anybody keep you from making it real. This world grows when the innovative minds dare to dream. You can make beautiful things happen!