Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Where's Robin Hood When You Need Him?

Gee, who says $40 million dollars in political contributions doesn't buy you anything? Our esteemed government is about to gift the credit card industry with a new law that makes it harder for the average Joe and Jane (that's us, folks) to file for bankruptcy. Attempts to insert exclusions for service personnel in Iraq, the poor and elderly, those with serious medical problems, fell on deaf ears. So if you're sent to Iraq and your family runs into financial trouble because your salary is a tenth of your civilian life, you're screwed, even though you're risking your life dodging IED's. However, just to show they're not without heart, our esteemed lawmakers did not fiddle with the loopholes that allow the rich cats to shelter their assets when they file bankruptcy. Hey, it's an ownership society, folks. That means someone is doing the owning and if you haven't figured it out yet, it ain't you!

The credit card industry, which made $30 billion in profits last year, is whining that they need these protections to keep people from running up high credit card debt and then filing for protection against those debts. Admittedly, there are probably a few folks who do that. But over half of bankruptcies are due to illness or job loss. This legislation kicks people when they're down. As one Democrat put it, "This is just mean-spirited." The man's got it right.

Given the steady stream of card offers that flood into my door, the credit card industry needs to take a great deal of blame. My parents both died in 1999. I still get offers for each of them to acquire their very own "X" card at some ridiculous low rate of interest. The industry has made it too easy to obtain credit... period. And Americans are too hooked on their cards... period. I suspect there is worse to come -- if the housing bubble shakes out, this is going to get really ugly (the new law won't exempt your house if you've owned it less than 3 1/3 years.)

Welcome to the leaner, meaner American society. I'm glad my parents have crossed over. They would be appalled.


No comments: