Wednesday, April 27, 2005

And you support this administration...why?

Ok, I was listening to NPR yesterday, and there was an interview with Bruce Springsteen. He was recounting why he was a Democrat, and he said it was because he came home one day as a kid and asked his dad if they were Republican or Democrat, and his dad said, "We're Democrats because the Democrats are for the working people."

He said that was his whole political education to that point, and then he and the interviewer discussed how so many working people are now staunch Republicans. Is it because the Republicans are now the ones fighting for the "working people"?

Well, if the only political information you get is from your church, and church sponsored broadcasts about the filibuster, you might believe it. But for God's sake, grow a brain and use it.

Let's set aside their belief that outsourcing jobs to other countries is good for this country. Let's not argue about the illegal war in Iraq and the overwhelming proof taht the invasion of Iraq was justified using information which was, at best, incorrect. Let's not talk about how they told us the war would cost $1.7 billion and be over quickly though it has lasted for years with an ever rising body count and costing over $4 billion a month. Let's not talk about how they are doing everything they can to subvert democracy in their all out effort to dominate all three branches of government while crowing about their success in spreading democracy abroad. Let's forget, for the moment, how they are quashing any opposition as anti-American and pro-terrorist. Let's forget how the administration that wanted to bring dignity and trust back to the White House supports changing the rules so that ethics investigations can only happen if you agree ahead of time not to find any fault with Tom DeLay. Let's forget that the President who swore to defend the Constitution tries at every opportunity to revise it or add to it provisions which would limit the freedoms of all Americans.

Actually, let's not forget all of that, we'll come back to it later this week.

For right now, let's just look at something as close to the average Republican's brain as you can get. His wallet. In that wallet are probably credit cards.

The credit card companies have been largely unregulated. Most cards are issued through South Dakota or Delaware because there are no usury laws in those states, so there's no cap on the interest rates they can charge. Credit card issuers made $30 billion last year.(1)

For years these companies have worked like tobacco companies in their heyday to get everyone they could, and at the earliest ages they could, hooked on plastic and mired in debt. Most outrageous are the efforts to get college students to become credit addicts. Many college students graduate from school shocked to find that before their earning power has a chance to kick in, their credit card debts are equal to their student loan debt and other school related expenses. (Which will be even harder to pay for if Republicans get their way.)

How many "working people" with a college education land jobs right out of school that will allow them to eat, live, drive and pay $300 a month in student loans and another $300 a month in credit card bills? For too many, the answer is to pay the bills with whatever they can scrape together and then buy groceries and gas with more credit. God forbid they have to fly somewhere for a job interview.

Once these companies have created a nation of credit addicts, they lobby Congress to change the bankruptcy laws, all the while calling it reform and convincing America that most people go into debt already thinking that bankruptcy is a cheap and easy way out...that these people filing for bankruptcy are cheats and frauds who need to be made to pay what they owe. It sounds convincing, huh? It must, you supported it and few people complained when Bush signed the new law.

What does the law do?

The "Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005" has been sold to America based on, like most of what this administration sells, lies. They tell us most bankruptcy is because of frivoulous spending, but the truth is 90 percent of all bankruptcies are caused by serious medical issues, loss of income or a family breakup. (2)

Before you go all Rush Limbaugh on my ass, 75% of those people had health in surance. Almost all bankruptcies are caused by unforseen circumstances, not fraud. Which is why the bankruptcy provisions were created in the first place. A 90% success rate in the application of this system is pretty good, especially when you compare it to the success rate of...say...the very expensive Intelligence services which got us into Iraq.

They say that only those who have the ability to pay will be forced to pay their debts. Sounds good, but it too is a lie. In truth, it does nothing to prevent the creation of asset protection trusts by those who can afford to do so. These trusts can be set up to protect valuable assets from creditors in a bankruptcy. However, this is only an option for those who can afford to set up such a trust.(2) In short, if you are rich and file for bankruptcy you won't lose your house. If you are poor and file for bankruptcy all bets are off and you could end up homeless and without a car. And they call this reform?

Catering to the mega-buck lending institutions who are making fortunes off the misery of the working poor...misery they created by calculation...doesn't sound like championing the cause of the working people to me.

And you didn't expect it...on the heels of that new legistlation paid for by the credit card companies, we get the news that the Feds will raise credit card minimum payments! Over the next year, the federal government is requiring all banks to raise the minimum monthly credit card payment from two to four percent of the balance owed (1). They're saying that this is going to help more people get out of debt faster and save them money.

Where do these people live? Oh, yeah, in huge trust protected homes isolated from the concerns of the family who is using their credit card to buy groceries at 29% interest* because they can't keep up with the other bills they have, rising gasoline costs, skyrocketing medical costs, and diminishing access to adequate health care.

Sure, if they pay more they will get out of debt faster, but how many American families are going to have a heart attack when their monthly minimum payments double? Would the bankruptcy legislation have gone through as easily if the Feds raised the mimimum payments before they tried to pass that law? Hell no.

But in the mind of George Bush and his cronies, you people making the minimum payments each month are doing it out of choice, and your credit card debts are your own fault because of your frivoulous spending. On food. And gas. And doctor bills.

These new rules hit us working people on top of already being clobbered by higher energy prices, rising interest rates, and record levels of overall household debt.

Household debt is now $10 trillion, or 87% of gross domestic product. (3)

Holy Crap!

American households, on average, possess nearly 8 major bank cards -- or 17, including store and gas cards. Either by choice or necessity, some 19 million households -- about 1 in 6 -- now make minimum payments on their cards, according to card tracking service

Look, most people do pay more than the minimum every month. I'm not arguing that if you can pay 4% instead of 2% you should keep paying 2%. That would be crazy. I'm saying that if you look at the facts, which is that almost all of the people paying just the minimum are doing it because they have no choice then the Government is forcing those poor people into default and that's wrong, but worse because before they did this they made it harder and more costly to declare bankruptcy.

If you want real credit reform, you corporate cronies in Washington, then do something to regulate the credit card insdustry because they are the ones who are creating the poverty and misery that you are punishing.

I know, you don't bite the hand that feeds you. Which is why the hand that feeds you is supposed to be THE WORKING PEOPLE OF AMERICA and not BIG CORPORATE INTERESTS.

And everyone out there with that stupid W on your back window....I blame YOU, and so will everyone else, including Jesus, when this house of cards you've built comes crashing down on all our heads.

Now, go kick a gay homeless person to make yourself feel better, you heartless bastards.

*(Borrowers who make a late payment -- whether it's for the phone bill, a credit card, or a house payment -- often are charged punitive rates averaging 29% on all their cards. These on-the-edge borrowers are the most profitable part of any bank's card operations, as long as they don't default.)(3)

(1)Feds Raise Credit Card Minimum Payment, Mike Doria, Jane Flasch (Rochester, NY) 04/27/05,

(2)Bankruptcy reform not what it appears, Cory Dulcos, The Signpost, April 27, 2005

(3)Tough Love for Debtors, Mara Der Hovanesian for Business Week Online, April 26, 2005


Blogger R said...

If the Clinton's popularity could best be explained as "It's the economy stupid" Then this Republican nightmare can be summed up just as easily. "It's abortion stupid" and people are ready to accept all manner of evil and poverty..just as long as they are fighting on the RIGHT side of that issue. Pathetic.

5:40 PM  
Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

It's unfortunate so many have to file bankruptcy over medical bills due to lack of health insurance and it must stop now. I hope our health care system can be improved as more than 45 million lack coverage.

2:32 PM  

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