Ashburton Guardian magna est veritas et prævalebit. WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2, 1919. BAD DEBTS.
We are Hot disciples of the school which insists. that people are not so good as they used to be, believing, as we do, that on the whole, each generation is an improvement, ethically, on its predecessor. In some departments of life it is possible that our fathers were better than their sons,. because temptations vary with conditions. A notable instance, perhaps, of superiority in earlier generations,
was their commendable self- respect, as demonstrated, among other ways, by a determination to pay their way. They were too proud to owe, and if they could not afford to purchase, they usually went without. Nowadays, their sons and daughters too often act more carelessly, and many an exretail tradesman traces his commercial disaster to putting his trust in promises to pay. , It must be an extraordinary state of mind that, permits a man or a woman to obtain goods, knowing the prospect of paying for them is exceedingly slight. This carelessness is often as near fraud as makes no difference, and if the public were less lenient to such offenders, the evil would greatly diminish. It cannot be claimed that the way of these commercial transgressors, is hard; on the contrary, possessing sufficient effrontery, they are given almost free rein. The law makes things ' more arduous for the creditor than the debtor, and it is astonishing what latitude tradesmen will give to defaulters. Credit in some degree may be necessary, although it should not be forgotten, generally speaking, the larger the firm the less credit it will allow. Perhaps the growth. of the huge retail emporiums of the world is due to their commonsense policy of out the non-payers. Were it only a matter between the seller and the "buyer," outsiders would ha^e no concern with the transaction, but it is obvious that those honest people who pay their tradesmen have to share the losses arising through the default of the less desirable customers. Part of the increased cost of living is due to this wretched system of trusting unwisely and too well, and public opinion should assert itself, and bring about a more desirable state of things. Tradesmen have a duty to their paying customers and should help to protect them, as well as themselves, by refusing to allow accounts to run on, unless sheer misfortune is responsible. A tradesman cannot always forecast if an account is likely to be paid when due, but it is his own fault, if a first month's default is followed, by another, and again and again. The compeition bogey may be raised as an excuse for
accepting* orders without guarantees of payment, but the real competition ill such cases among traders should be to avoid such business. The recent milk-supply crisis was pni'tly due to a vendor getting tired of bad debts, and the butcher', the baker, the draper, the grocer, and indeed every kind of retailer could.each unfold tales of owe and woe. It does not say much for our boasted national efficiency, when such a system is allowed to continue.