PolySciFi Blog

Saturday, March 12, 2005


Credit Card Woes

It's basically a done deal; if you're planning on filing bankruptcy, do it this month, before President Bush writes MBNA America a big fat check. I can't think of another more obvious giveaway to campaign contributors in recent memory. And what great campaign contributors: I honestly loathe every credit card company I've ever had dealings with. Credit card companies, like commercial banks, make the vast majority of their money from their worst customers; often from people they shouldn't be loaning money to in the first place. I understand the advantage of having all that loaned money out floating around, especially in an economy as consumer-driven as ours. But when things go truly sour for a family or individual (health problems, job loss, a failed business), bankruptcy is a necessary safety valve.

Allowing credit card companies to take even more from the people who can least afford it is going to encourage them to make even more bad decisions when it comes to loaning people money in the first place. The fact is, when you get to a certain financial point, you have very few options in terms of repaying credit card companies. If you'd like details, check out the Washington Post's report here (reg. required). And I have very little sympathy for an industry that preys on the weak.

The stupidity of this bill is legion; among other things, it makes bankruptcy lawyers liable for any assets their clients successfully hide from the courts. Newsflash: the bankruptcy lawyers don't necessarily know about those assets either. This is like sending a defense attorney to the gas chamber because his client was guilty.

Democracies have a right, even an obligation, to pass stupid bills if the majority wants them. But this bill has little or no support among the American populace. Glenn Reynolds and Paul Krugman agree about this bill; Glenn also thinks it's a dumb move for the Republicans. There's a lot of talk on KOS about penalizing the Democrats who voted for cloture. You can find a list of them on Josh Marshall's bankruptcy bill edition of his blog, here (click the "Bankruptcy Rolls" links on the right). I'm pleased to note that Boxer and Feinstein both voted against cloture. While I do agree that the Democrats on the list should suffer (I couldn't support a presidential bid from Biden in 2008, for instance), I think it's also worth noting, again and again and again, that every single Republican Senator voted for cloture.

It's too late to stop passage of this stupid, stupid bill. It's not too late to use it as a pointed reminder that Senators don't always serve their constituents (I'd propose an exception for the Senators from Delaware--they really are serving their constituents. Their evil, predatory constituents). A democracy that lets people buy legislation through campaign contributions is not a democracy at all; it's a plutocracy. And plutocracies inevitably become monotonous, incorrigible failures.


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