This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Republicans: For Truth, Honor, and Kicking the Poor Because They Stink

(When Senator Sessions looks in the mirror, he's reminded who his master is.)

Those of you who've been around me know that I am generally pretty conservative politically. I'm more of a pragmatist than an idealogue, though -- I simply believe that most government programs are a waste of money, and that people should be able to keep more of what they've earned. I also don't expect the government to bail me out, and I really don't understand why my parents, who have lived a comfortable but non-wasteful life within their means, should be expected to bail out other seniors who blew all their money on gambling and hats. I vote Republican mainly for trust issues: I can't trust the Democrats to keep from creating another government program that leeches money from everyone I hold dear. Of course, I can't really trust the Republicans either, but at least my taxes are lower.

I'm not, however, one of those people who hates the poor and thinks they're "dirty" or "below me." I don't even think of them as "the poor." I think of them as "us." But still, I am a conservative. When you have very little money to start with, lower taxes mean a lot.

So I find my gut reaction to this story in the Washington Post is causing me a lot of cognitive dissonance, particularly this paragraph that quotes Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions:
The pre-bankruptcy credit-counseling requirement was initiated by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) during the 10-year battle to enact a new law. He said in a recent interview that it was "disappointing" to learn that so few consumers have signed up for a debt-management plan. He said he intends to monitor the law's progress and was "not prepared to give up on this."
Ooo. To paraphrase Starsky or Hutch, "Are you tough-talking a dead body, Senator?" Senator Sessions is going to make sure those poor people pay their debts like good Americans, even when their jobs have moved to China. Senator Sessions "isn't prepared to give up" until the credit card companies get every single penny they deserve. You'd do it for your kid.

Now, I sure what happened here is this: somebody hit the Senator with statistics that only 4.5% of people who go into credit counseling under the new law end up repaying their debts as opposed to going into bankruptcy. I'm also sure whoever told the Senator these statistics failed to mention that the reason that the number is so low is that the vast majority of people are in such bad financial shape when they get to counseling that their only alternative is debt protection. The Washington Post story explains this, then proceeds to make Mr. Sessions look like an evil ogre who wants force destitute grannies into jail so that Big Credit can get a little more money. I understand the way those media clowns work. The quote STILL ticked me off.

The bottom line is that Mr. Sessions' default state of mind is to appease the credit card companies, so when he hears that only 4.5% of people who go into credit counseling come out with a payment plan, he automatically thinks "WWACCCES," or What Would A Credit Card Company Executive Say. I think he probably has a WWACCCES bracelet, too. In his mind, most people who declare bankruptcy are evil charlatans who just want to rip off his friends, the rich who hold the money. It never occurred to him that most people who declare bankruptcy actually need it to survive.

Yes, last year 1 in 30 USA households declared, which seems like a lot, and which theoretically means that in 30 years we will have all been bankrupt. But why aren't we concentrating on the policy and behaviors that make people overspend in the first place? Why aren't we concerned with all the people who have lost their jobs in the new economy? Why aren't we concerned with Americans' unsatiable need to have the newest and coolest things right now? Why do we think that people out there actually have money, when they're buying all this stuff on credit?

Why is a US Senator asking himself WWACCCES, when he should be asking himself WWTPOAWMTD?

(Oh, that's What Would The People Of Alabama Want Me To Do?)


  • At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Not bad.

    One thing, though. The new bankruptcy law requires credit counseling, but only as a pre-requisite really. You can still get the bankruptcy, and most of the protections involved. You just have to jump through this extra hoop and hurdle.

    I know this as one of the thirty. Except I got in before the new law.

  • At 1:56 PM, Blogger Mike Pape said…

    Well, Senator Sessions is fed up with you and wants your buns on a platter.
    Good thing Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold love you.

  • At 9:47 AM, Blogger Brian said…

    That's the first thoughtful anonymous comment I've ever seen on blogger! Nice!

    Also, I like that you're giving the Washington Post more face time. Good call.

  • At 3:23 PM, Blogger Mike Pape said…

    He's not so anonymous in that I know who he is, but your point is still vaild.

    I love the Washington Post, man.


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