Saturday, January 03, 2004

Bankruptcy - They're Not Deadbeats... They're Downtrodden

In their latest attempt to spin good economic news to bad, the Des Moines Register Editorial Board brings us (cue menacing music, set reverb to kill): Living on the edge (of bankruptcy).

Precis - Increasing bankruptcy rates in Iowa mean that the economy is in the toilet and are conclusive proof of the need for universal health care. It's the evil credit card companies extending credit at rates approaching usury. It has to do with EVERYTHING except the PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY of the people that sign a credit agreement.

It's easier for society to believe those who file bankruptcy were just irresponsible spenders, even though that's not necessarily the case. The reality is people lose their jobs, they get sick, they accumulate debt paying for the necessities of life, and they fall deeper and deeper into the debt hole.

Whew... there's an overwhelming argument... it's good to know that irresponsible use of credit is "not necessarily" the reason why folks declare personal bankruptcy.

Oddly enough, as I was reading the editorial, a commercial for a personal bankruptcy lawyer came on the TV. "You can declare bankruptcy without losing your home, your car or your personal possessions..." Whoo-hoo! Sounds good to me!!!

It's funny that the editorial mentions nothing about how liberal "no pain" personal bankruptcy laws just might have something to do with increasing bankruptcy rates.

And then another chorus in the Register's incessant squeal for universal health care:

One of the leading causes of bankruptcy is health-care expenses. "More than 20 percent of the people who file for bankruptcy complain that medical debt is a problem," according to the president of a research consulting firm. An increasing number of uninsured Americans are only one heart attack or broken bone away from the poorhouse.

Zowie... them's some convincin' statistics: "More than 20 percent... COMPLAIN..." about medical debt. Where does this powerful statistic come from...? The "president of a research consulting firm".

Well, I guess that settles that.

I love the last sentence. Junior gets a broken bone and the family is going to the poorhouse. Yep... he's taken to Broadlawns (or any emergency room for that matter - they cannot refuse emergency care regardless of insurance coverage). His fracture is set and the limb casted. Then, the hospital immediately begins garnishing the head of household's wages. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! Dr. Simon Legree at your service.

By the way... where is the Polk County Poorhouse? Is that down on Fleur?

Are we really surprised that the rate of bankruptcies is rising? If you can have all or a large part of your debt "forgiven", keep all of the things that you bought on credit, avoid the social stigma that used to accompany bankruptcy, it's only your sense of responsibility and (forgive the use of a dated word and concept) HONOR that keeps you from sneaking out the back door.

Yes, "the economy" plays a role is this. However, as independent, rational adults, we have the responsibility to manage our own financial affairs - in good times and bad. As usual, The Register Editorial Board ignores personal responsibility to make political hay.

It will be interesting to see how desperate the Register will get as the economy improves in the current election year. Stay tuned.


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