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Bankruptcy Made Easy

Who says liberals never have anything nice to say about the bug-eyed religious extremists who have taken over the Republican Party and poisoned America’s political discourse with their frothing ignorance and Talibanic zeal for barbaric repression? We dispute such vicious slander. In fact, when it comes to their latest battle, we are proud to stand up and proclaim: “Godspeed, you Christian soldiers!”

That’s because a few Congressional Bug-Eyes–with a bug up some other part of their anatomy about a woman’s right to control her own body–are the only thing now standing between ordinary working people and the white-collar predators of the “financial services industry,” who aim to eat up the lives of those they have already crippled with their “easy-money” scams.

This week, anti-abortion extremists in the House of Representatives forced a delay on a final vote on the great googily-moogily “Bankruptcy Bill,” the New York Times reports. They’re not worried about the countless families that will be devastated by the bill, of course; they’re in a snit over an amendment that would curtail the ability of anti-abortion terrorist groups to use bogus bankruptcies to dodge financial penalties after they’ve been caught burning down clinics, stalking nurses, harassing pregnant women or killing doctors.

Their reasoning may be repellent, but there is some hope that these notorious mollycoddlers of domestic terrorism might be able to mount enough procedural roadblocks to, well, abort the bill altogether–even though the measure enjoys, as the Times hastens to assure us, “broad bipartisan support.”

Of course, in mediaspeak, “broad bipartisan support” usually just means that some shady outfit has been throwing ungodly amounts of money at the ever-eager courtesans in Washington. And there has sure enough been some money thrown here–as you’d expect, when it’s bankers and credit-card companies coming to call.

The new bill–which was actually written by “financial services” lobbyists–would “protect” the little lambs of Wall Street from all the vicious single mothers, unemployed fathers, ghetto scum and trailer-park trash out there who have collapsed beneath the debt they’ve taken on at the frantic urging of, er, Wall Street. For years, the “financial services industry” has deliberately targeted the most vulnerable people in American society–those on the economic margins, young kids just starting out in life, working parents stretching to pay the bills, sick people laden with medical costs, the luckless, the desperate, the ill-educated, the naive–and plied them with promises of “instant credit” and “pre-approved loans” in slick advertising campaigns and junk-mail bombardments.

They operate like playground pushers: “Hey, kid, the first bag is free.” Once the habit of life on credit is established, then the extortionate interest rates, the “late charges” and “rollovers” kick in. The promised good life is gone, siphoned away into the coffers of credit giants like MBNA Corporation of Delaware, the world’s biggest peddler of plastic cash, and the great banking houses, who use the profits they’ve plucked from the broken backs of grubby proles to fuel their shell games with Enron, WorldCom, Harken and the boys.

Millions of the Americans thus ruined have fled to the slender and humiliating protections of personal bankruptcy. In most cases, the existing laws do wipe away some debts, particularly unsecured debt. But it leaves many others on the books, while destroying the debtor’s credit rating for years to come, closing the door on dreams of buying a car or house, or engaging in any of the innumerable transactions that now require ID and surety in the form of–what else?–a credit card. It’s no “easy out;” it’s a hard step, a desperate measure, fraught with lingering doubts, agonizing decisions, and irrevocable consequences no matter what you choose–much like abortion, in fact.

Now, in the Herbert Hoover-like financial nightmare that has engulfed America in the Second Coming of Bushonomics, millions of people have been thrown out of work. Millions more have seen their pensions, their nest eggs, their financial security wiped out by the gargantuan frauds of Wall Street. But even this has not stopped the “financial services industry” from trying to gut the slim protections of the existing laws and force bankrupts to pay off credit card debts and loans–sometimes before paying for other trifles, such as alimony, medicine or groceries.

Well-heeled supporters of the bill–like the insider-trading wastrel in the White House, who never risked a dime of his own money while making millions in politically-connected sweetheart deals–claim the strongarm measure is in fact a Godly edict, forcing the rabble to face up to their “unhealthy values” and “irresponsibility.” Indeed, Senator Charles Grassley, one of the bill’s champions, says it will even stem “the eroding moral values of some people.”

Those would be the little people–the unconnected people–of course. But not the kind of people who rake in more than $300,000 in “hard money” contributions to their presidential campaigns from MBNA–the largest single corporate briber to the Bush team in 2000, outpointing even Kenny Boy Lay. Or the kind of people who receive $447,000 low-interest loans from MBNA just four days before becoming a chief sponsor of the bill–like House Democrat James Moran of Virginia. Or the hundreds of other congressmen who pocketed a total of $37.7 million in “financial services” baksheesh in 2000–and God only knows how much since then. No, their “moral values” are firm and uneroded.

Meanwhile, as always, the weakest go to the wall–unless the Bug-Eyes stand fast for terrorism.

Murky old world, ain’t it?

Chris Floyd is a columnist for the Moscow Times. He can be contacted at cfloyd72@hotmail.com

ANNOTATIONS for “MORAL MAZE”

Senate Delays Final Vote on Bankruptcy Bill,”
New York Times, July 29, 2002

Negotiators Agree on Bill to Rewrite Bankruptcy Laws,”
New York Times, July 26, 2002

White House Hails Bankruptcy Bill,”
Associated Press, July 26, 2002

Infectious Fraud,”
Financial Times, July 29, 2002

Bush’s Role in Corporate Fraud,”
Boston Globe, July 23, 2002

Lobbyists Near Bankruptcy Bill Goal,”
New York Times, March 13, 2001 (archive fee required)

Let the Hogfest Begin,”
Salon.com, March 12, 2001

Citigroup deals helped Enron to hide its debts,”
Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2002

Soros: Harken Sought Influence in Buying Bush Firm,”
Boston Globe, July 19, 2002

Twice as Bad as Hoover,”
Consortiumnews.com, July 23, 2002

Influence and Bailouts a Business Tradition in Bush Family,”
St. Petersburg Times, Oct. 29, 2000

More articles by:

Chris Floyd is a columnist for CounterPunch Magazine. His blog, Empire Burlesque, can be found at www.chris-floyd.com.

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