March 08, 2005

The Credit Card Companies Win

Talking Points Memo had a crew blogging bankruptcy day. I was glad to see that both of my home state Senators were on the list of consumer champs that voted against this monstrosity.

You can't get special bankruptcy consideration if you're deployed in Iraq, have staggering medical bills or are over 65. But it's just fine to file for bankruptcy if you're trying to get out of fines for menacing women's health clinics, and if you're filthy rich you can still get away with hiding away luxury yachts and vacation homes.

In fact, this bill comes close to being a representative microcosm of US politics. Wealthy corporations get their puppets in the Senate to pass a bill that makes life harder for veterans, the elderly, the poor, and the sick while giving a free ride to the Ken Lays and Leona Helmsleys of the nation and the violent 'moralists' who provide them with political cover.

Everyone gets in a lather about gay marriage, abortion, acting 'French', acting 'tough', or being 'Christian.' Then one day you wake up in a country where if your adored grandmother breaks a hip and can't pay, she can't get bankruptcy protection for her house. You wake up one day and your neighbor whose Reserve unit got called up to go to Iraq can't get bankruptcy protection after losing half or more of their yearly salary by mandate of the federal government. You realize that if your credit card company can come up with a good enough reason, they could charge you any arbitrary amount of interest they pleased.

You realize, maybe, that when you hire 'tough' guys to run the country, they will turn around and be tough on you. That when compassion is sneered at during elections, it will not be extended to you when it comes time to write the laws.

This is what class warfare looks like, even if it isn't what it's called. They call it class warfare when people who aren't filthy rich demand to be treated well, which is a departure from the usual system where the filthy rich steal from everyone else with impunity and nobody thinks to complain.

This is why religion doesn't belong in politics. Because legislation about which consenting adults can sleep with which other consenting adults is just stupid, and it takes away from the 'tedious' debate about matters of life and death.

If you ever wanted to know who really runs the country, be sure to note that VISA's transaction regulations are both a) not available to public review, and b) the de facto financial law of the land. They even have the authority to declare by fiat, by means of monopolistic control of the transaction gateways, which other companies get to be involved in online commerce applications. And with this also, there is of course neither appeal nor public discussion.

Still doubt that this bill was of the financial companies, by the financial companies, and for the financial companies, read this comment to a post at Eschaton where a visitor posted the text of a memo posted on the company intranet at the bank where they work:

News : All U.S. Employees : Bankruptcy Reform Legislation - Action Needed

Bankruptcy Reform Legislation - Action Needed
published: 03/07/05 expires: 03/09/05
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The United States Senate is debating S. 256, the $ North America-supported bankruptcy reform bill. This week, the Senate will vote on nearly 60 amendments. To protect the fragile compromises in S. 256, please contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to oppose all amendments.

If S. 256 is passed without significant amendments, the President has indicated that he would sign the bill.

Under current law, anyone can declare bankruptcy as long as their liabilities exceed their assets even if their income allows them to pay their bills. S. 256 requires anyone declaring bankruptcy who makes more than the median income (about $55,000 for a family of four) to submit to a needs-test to determine whether they can repay some of their outstanding debts. If they can, the proposed law would require them to pay all or a portion of their bills.

Contact your two U.S. Senators TODAY by calling 1-877-602-xxxx, a toll-free number set up exclusively for $- North America employees.
Enter your home zip code to be connected directly to your Senators.
Once you have contacted the first Senator, please stay on the line and you will be automatically patched through to the next office.

1. Hello, my name is ___________, and I live in ___________ (your state).
2. I am calling to ask the Senator to support S. 256, the bankruptcy reform bill, and to defeat all amendments.
3. Please let Senator ________ know that I am strongly in favor of this bill. Thank you.

Thank you for your assistance. If you have any questions, please contact Hilary ? in the Washington, DC Government Relations office at 202-466-xxxx or via e-mail at hilary.a.gangemi@$.com. You can also visit the government relations website at http://www.hi$ for more information on this bill as well as other legislative priorities for the company.

As once was said, everyone is organized except the people.

Posted by natasha at March 8, 2005 06:37 PM | Economy | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |