Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Camping Brings Families Together

We're coming to you today from the Department of Unintended Consequences here in the marbled halls of IM Central. The DoUC is a division of the Who Knew? Corporation in partnership with Don't Blame Us We Just Make Laws, LLC.

Despite the 2005 passage of a law that made it more difficult and expensive to file for personal bankruptcy, more Americans are choosing bankruptcy over destitution. "And that's simple discrimination against the credit industry," said VISA CEO Joseph Saunders. "Hey, we spent a lot of money on Congress to get that law through so we could start sending 100,000 lines of credit to four year olds."

"The rise in bankruptcies is not about something that happened last week or last month," said Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor and a bankruptcy expert. "It's about the fundamentals. It's about declining wages, rising costs, inadequate health insurance, job instability. More hardworking middle-class families simply can't make it in this economy, and it's only getting worse."

"Not our problem," said Saunders. "We don't care that your boss hasn't given you a meaningful raise in seven years, even though his profits have constantly risen. See, the new law means we don't have to care about your ability to pay, only your willingness to charge. You don't need your own home to charge you know. Just a thought."

Putative republican presidential candidate John McCain expressed his sympathy for those caught in the credit crunch. "It's tough out there," he said. "I may have to sell one of my eight houses."

Bankruptcy attorneys and economists said the trend cuts across all segments of society -- the young and the old, homeowners with bad mortgages and renters, the poor and the middle class. In the past, bankruptcies were more common among people who had sudden life changes, such as a divorce, illness or job loss. Now, the bankrupt are people who have simply racked up too much debt.

"I know what you're thinking," Saunders told reporters. "But you can't blame us. Just because we send people hundreds of credit cards with all sorts of free come ons and sweeteners doesn't mean we expect them to use those cards."

Declining home values are exacerbating the problem. No longer can people rely on the equity in their homes to pay down more expensive debt. "Well, like I said, you don't need a home to use a credit card. We're equal opportunity lenders," Saunders told reporters.

Congress recently considered a proposal by Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) to let bankruptcy judges cut interest rates and principal on troubled mortgages. But that plan was scuttled last month. Instead, consumers must operate under the law passed in 2005, which was intended to get people to choose other alternatives. "Summer's coming and camping can be fun," said Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, (R - 2bad4U). "Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go and try to run over Graeme Frost in my SUV."

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