aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, February 27, 2005
Here’s the deal on the bankruptcy bill: loopholes for the wealthy are preserved and corporate abuse can continue unfettered. But you and me, we no longer get a break - if you call a decade of wrecked credit a break. The name of the bill is enough to make me holler - “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act” - who’s being abused and who protected here? Consumer bankruptcy has declined and bankruptcy is a consumer protection.
Credit card companies insist that most filers are merely credit addicts who have spent beyond their means and want to stiff the industry with the bill. (Given the credit card industry’s marketing strategies--including documented campaigns targeting minors--this complaint is akin to drug dealers whining about their buyers entering rehab. [emphasis mine]) But a recent Harvard study shows that roughly half of all filers for Chapter 7 do so in the wake of major medical expenses. Moreover, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is hardly a get-out-of-jail-free card--it leaves a prolonged stain on one’s credit rating and imposes tough financial sanctions. The credit card companies, by contrast, don’t seem to be hurt by the filings much at all. According to Harvard Law School bankruptcy expert Elizabeth Warren, since 1997, “Bankruptcy filings have increased 17 percent, while credit card profits have increased 163 percent.”
Elizabeth Warren’s a bankruptcy hero; here’s her highly readable fact-filled testimony before the committee. Here’s the Harvard study, Illness and Injury as contributors to bankruptcy. Here’s the Frontline documentary The Secret History of the Credit Card.
Joe Biden and Dianne Feinstein are among those who voted this turkey out of committee. What gives? Caving to 8 years of credit card industry pressure? Credit card companies are allowed to charge usury rates making them far and away the profit leader in the banking industry. This bill is evidence of their unholy greed. It should be stopped.
Boing Boing on the toolbar
I think I should be able to use a proxy that reformats my browsing sessions for viewing on a mobile phone; I think I should be able to use a proxy that finds every ISBN and links it to a comparison-shopping-engine’s best price for that book across ten vendors. I think I should be able to use a proxy that auto-links every proper noun to the corresponding Wikipedia entry.And so on—it’s my screen, and I should be able to control it; companies like Google and individuals should be able to provide tools and services to let me control it.