All three options are
difficult to believe. After all, these are people
who organize the infrastructure that allows our society
to operate. These are people who wage and carry out
wars in far away lands. These are people who write
tax codes so complicated they require a lawyer, an
accountant, two translators, and a Voodoo Priestess
to decipher. And they're also people who dedicate
their lives to public service, in exchange for the
pleasure of a low-paying job and intense public scrutiny.
Still, they must be one of the three to handle America's
problems (often imaginary ones,) the way that they
sometimes do. The answer they come up with to virtually
any problem is the same: harsh punishment for anyone
displaying a symptom.
If this Congress and this President were Doctors,
their medicine bags would be shaped like a violin,
rattling suspiciously, and unable to pass through
a metal detector without setting off a "beep".
Bankruptcy, made much harder for the average American
under a reprehensible bill that just passed the Senate
with a three-quarter majority, is a symptom of several
economic problems: a sluggish economy, volatile job
market, over-borrowing and a terrible system of health
coverage. The Senate, however, sees only the symptom,
and treats it as the problem.
These astute lawmakers seem to believe that by making
it more difficult for people to protect their homes
and stop harassment by creditors, debtors (who are
bankrupt, remember,) will suddenly, somehow come up
with the money and pay up. The President, who is positively
giddy about signing the law, also seems to believe
that these people had money all along—they just
weren’t motivated enough to pay up. Now, thanks
to 30% interest rates, unending harassment by creditors
and other provisions (the bill stops just short of
allowing muscle-bound goons to break one knee for
each week late with a payment,) our national credit
problem will end.
Not that many of these people are standing upright
to begin with. A Harvard study released in February
concluded that just under half of all people filing
for bankruptcy met the definition of “major
medical bankruptcy.” In order to meet this definition,
a debtor had to have unpaid medical bills meeting
a certain two-year amount, lost at least two weeks
of work due to injury or illness, or mortgaged a home
to pay medical bills. What a bunch of dead-beats.
And if those freeloaders weren't enough to turn your
stomach on end, get a load of what happens when we
expand the definition to include events like childbirth
and death of a spouse. Now, over half of all those
filing meet the criteria.
What is frightening is that seventy-five percent
of these people actually had medical insurance. Many
lost it when they became ill and were unable to work.
For the rest, it just wasn’t enough.
Researchers concluded that a national health insurance
system, “divorced from the current job-based
model,” could eliminate half of all bankruptcies,
sparing about 2.2 million hard-working, bill-paying
citizens from financial ruin every year and
leaving their money for the eager grasp of creditors.
So, was every Republican in the Senate, along with
19 Democrats (counting Clinton, who lacked the moral
fiber to cast a vote,) unaware of this information,
unable to comprehend the logic, or simply so lacking
in morality and compassion that they don’t care
to differentiate between a thief and a new mother
whose husband died in Iraq?
I know that sounds like a sick joke, but it isn’t.
Some Democrats tried to amend the bill to
exclude a number of persons from the tighter grip,
including military widows. Each time, the amendment
was shot down. Picture this sympathy card from the
Federal Government: “Sorry your husband died
in Iraq. But that’s no reason to be late on
your VISA payment!” A smiling, high-gloss photograph
of George W. Bush is a given.
Nearly 150 times, Democrats lead by Feingold and
Kennedy attempted to make the bill a little more bearable
for the American people. Time after time, the Senate
decided that a handout to credit card companies was
more important than doing what’s right for the
American people and American economy.
Adding injury to... well, injury, the bill that
claims to end credit abuse actually enables credit
cards to extend the amount of lending they solicit.
The problem this country has with over-borrowing will
be made even worse under this law. A more
accurate name would have been the, “Bankruptcy
Promotion and Consumer Abuse Act”.
Luckily, the credit card industry is one of the
few that, even in a long economic slump, can still
buy and sell Congress, the President, and
enough votes to keep them all in line. Last year,
credit card companies in America generated $24 billion
in fees alone—not counting money made on interest
rates that could be as high as 34%. They need this
law so little, they could actually afford to buy it.
Unfortunately, the other side of this argument can't
make their car payment, let alone buy a United States
Senator—not even one from Rhode Island. To people
who need it, bankruptcy is a way to avoid losing their
home in exchange for ten years’ of no credit
in sight. It’s a symptom of our failure to provide
affordable health care, a symptom of a plague of over-borrowing,
and a symptom of a long economic slump.
It’s easy for someone who’s uninformed
or isn’t thinking to say that people should
simply pay their bills. But this ignores the harsh
reality that almost anyone who owns a home, has a
car payment, or owes any creditor even very manageable
debts is just one unpreventable tragedy away from
filing for bankruptcy. Who knows when you could get
hit by a bus, come down with a serious illness, or
be exposed as a fake journalist and part time prostitute?
(I promise, that is my very last Jeff Gannon joke,
which is difficult for me, since we all just discovered
that he played for a gay baseball team. The fun I
could have had with position names alone... left field,
right field... pitcher, catcher... )
And while it’s true that there are plenty of
people out there who simply choose to buy shiny new
things rather than pay the bills for their old ones,
I think any compassionate person would agree that
they need to be treated differently than people who
work hard, try their best, and are thanked for it
by the middle finger of fate. In Bush’s America,
we treat them differently by making sure they suffer
as much as humanly possible.
George W. Bush has just the way to reign in the unbelievable
medical costs that are driving people to bankruptcy:
even bigger handouts to corporate lobbies. Mr. Bush
actually asks us to believe that Insurance Companies
will drop their rates if we limit the amount a victim
of malpractice can receive upon winning a case, and
that Doctors will then charge less for their services
in turn. "Sorry we took the wrong tit, toots.
Have twelve grand." Well, doesn't that thought
just melt Mr. Pendleton's cold, cold heart?
Truth be told, the number of lawsuits seeking punitive
damages have been on the decline for the last decade,
and actual awards have become smaller and smaller.
Meanwhile, the cost of treatment has gone higher and
higher. This kind of strategy can only be explained
by insurance company money having bought the President’s
endorsement, total ignorance about the issue, or a
level of stupidity so off-the-scale that it defies
Social Security will hit one hell of a rough spot
in about forty years. Bush’s answer? Let people
take money out of the system, and reduce benefits
for everyone to compensate for it. Thankfully, it
is unlikely that he or Laura will need Social Security
in this lifetime, so the handout that Wall Street
thinks is too little to be worth their time wouldn’t
really affect his family.
It's unlikely that, no matter how bad things get,
Bush will ever put squeegee to windshield in his lifetime.
If Bush’s business history has proven one thing,
it is that with the right connections, even the biggest
failure can never have to pay his debts. Wouldn't
it be weird to live in a world that doesn't work that
way—you know, the way almost everybody else
Actually, the real question we should be asking is
this: Is the President incapable of comprehending
that the rest of us out here actually have to work
to pay our debts, or is he just a jackass?
Given the logic behind the Bankruptcy Bill, we also
have to ask ourselves if moderates like John McCain,
Harry Reid, Joe Biden and Olympia Snowe are ignorant,
stupid, or just a tad evil. Do this Congress and this
President lack information or the mental capacity
to understand the nation’s economic problems?
Or are they actually arrogant enough to believe that
a government that has racked up the biggest debt in
history—literally the biggest group of dead-beats
in the history of mankind—is in any kind of
a moral position to tell other people not to abuse
These people have repeatedly shown that they cannot
diagnose, let alone treat, the ailments of the American
people. Stupid, lazy or mean, I don't suppose the
reason really matters. What is important is that the
American people can't handle another six years of
legislative malpractice from these Senators.