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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.


Thursday, March 10, 2005

a pet peeve, accompanied by a minor rant

about bankruptcy. Rob has a fairly well documented post regarding the recent and pending changes to the bankruptcy bill. except his slant is of course, leaning in from the other direction. none the less, he points out that there will be a codified criteria for declaring bankruptcy, rather than leaving it to the discretion of a judge. i'm trying to figure out why that is bad. if you have the means to pay back your debt, regardless of how "inconvenient" it may be, you should pay it back. i am in no way in favor of the old debtor's prison concept favored throughout europe for centuries, but i'm also not in favor of granting a "get out of jail free card" to people simply because they are not responsible enough to control their debt. the vast majority of bankruptcies, as far as i've been able to find during an hour or so of surfing the web, is consumer debt. as in...buying things when you can't afford them.
one of the quotes rob posted just fired me up.
"The bill simply doesn't balance responsibility between families in debt trouble and the creditors whose practices have contributed to the rise in bankruptcies," said Travis Plunkett of the Consumer Federation of America in a written statement.

WTF, over? in what way is it society's responsibility to relieve the burden of debt from someone simply because they don't know how to say no?
i have several personal anecdotes regarding debt, bankruptcy, and moral standards.
1: an acquaintance of mine declared bankruptcy because his debt load overwhelmed his income. what kind of debt? new computer for himself, and a new computer each for his kids. printers, tv sets, phones, etc. did he need this stuff? no. did he have the income to pay for them, and the other "things" he bought on credit? no. so why do we, the general public, have to pay an increased price for goods simply because he couldn't afford the stuff he bought on credit, then defaulted on? why should i pay more to cover the obvious failings of him?
2: conversation overheard between two distant acquaintances: "yeah, just got back from cozomel. great time. going to reno next weekend, should have a blast."
"oh, so you got a job? great!"
"no, i haven't found a job. but since i'm in the shits now, i figured i might as well rack up the cards to the max before i file for bankruptcy". this is a true story, and i really was sitting next to these two during the conversation
3: this is a personal story. i was assigned as the remote site supervisor in pearl harbor for 6 months. i took the kids, and left the ex behind, since she "was looking for a job". when i got home, i was over $40k in debt, and the 25% overtime i worked, and my regular pay that was automatically deposited...all gone. this wasnt' the reason we split, but it certainly was a factor.
my lawyer tried to get me to file bankruptcy. since it was legally my responsibility, i refused. it took a lot of phone calls, and some serious belt tightening, but i paid off the debt over the next year and a half. part of the payment came from the cash buyout of equity in our house for the ex, but the majority of the money came from me. and i had the kids. am i stupid? i don't think so. it was a responsibility, and i felt morally obligated to fulfill the obligation. am i a hero? hell no, because if that's all that it takes to be a hero, our society has really fallen on hard times.

i can understand if someone bought a house, or purchased items with credit, as long as the payments were well within their means of paying. and if a catastrophic occurrence removes the income source, then bankruptcy may be appropriate. but that is not a blanket "ok" either. i once again ask the simple question: why is it the public's responsibility to pay off your debt?
since when has it become ok to completely shed all personal responsibility? probably when the government decided to "take care of us" in establishing welfare and other social programs. i'm not saying that these programs are wrong, but i do feel they are horribly abused, and we as a society turn a blind eye to the abuses of the system. i'm just not sure why we do.
i know folks that have actually filed for bankruptcy more than once. if i was the judge in those cases, the second time you came to my court, your ass would be on it's way to jail for fraud, at the minimum.

edit 3/11: and furthermore, from rob's post:
But consumer advocates argue that the bill is a gift to creditors – particularly the credit card industry, which may receive $1 billion or more from repayment plans due to the expected increase in Chapter 13 filings, according to Robert McKinley, CEO of CardWeb.com.

if i was the ceo of a company, and had accounts receivable amounts that even remotely approached A BILLION DOLLARS, i'd be criminally negligent to the stockholders, and could very easily get jail time.
and that BILLION dollars is not the entire sum owed to the credit card companies that is in default. they are not running a charity. they are in business to make money. just like the hand wringers to expect a free ride just because their target has the bucks. really really sad. just seems to me that this is another indication that there are large segements of our population that want to give the responsibility and work of running their lives over to another entity, be it the government, or their political party of choice. WFT ever happened to self determination, and self reliance? oh, i forgot, that takes effort. sorry.
we are becoming a society that expects everything to be taken care for them, but don't want to be told what to do or how to run our lives. puzzling. we are incrimentally becoming slaves, willingly giving up what is rightly ours in the persuit of... i don't know what, maybe laziness?


Blogger Allan said...

Well said.

3/10/05, 5:36 PM  

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