Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review March 12, 2001 / 17 Adar, 5761

Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Banks, big credit lines and consumer bankruptcy -- IT Arrived in the mail last month -- a credit-card solicitation that offered me a credit line "of up to $250,000." The letter continued, "In our experience, that is often as much credit as most people need. If it's not enough for you, we may be able to arrange other financing totaling up to $1 million."

A newspaper woman getting an offer to apply for up to $1 million in credit? Some thing is very wrong with this picture.

Don't bother calling or e-mailing to ask me the name of the bank. I won't give it out. It's bad enough when banks entice hard-working folk to spend more money than they have -- and for luxury items. (The solicitation mentions how card services can be used to procure a catered lunch for 15, a "left-handed 9-iron with a hickory shaft" and cruise vacations.) I'm not going to help them.

Alas, Congress has nothing better to do than give succor to greedy banks. Last week, the House passed a bankruptcy bill, HR 333 -- consider it 666 halved -- that ought to be named the Help Us Poor Banks After We've Crushed People into Crushing Debt bill. The vote was 306 to 108, with Republicans voting overwhelmingly in favor and Democrats split. If the Senate passes it, President Bush is expected to sign it.

Philadelphia bankruptcy attorney Henry Sommer fears that by making it harder for debtors to go into Chapter 7, -- which provides complete relief from bankruptcy -- and by requiring that more debtors adhere to onerous repayment schedules under Chapter 13, HR 333 is "going to limit (banks') risk, and some people think it will make them do more loose lending," he noted. More loose lending, more bankruptcies. Right?

The Yes side argues that HR 333 would make it harder for deadbeats with assets to declare bankruptcy. They point to a provision in the bill designed to protect debtors who earn below their state's median average.

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., explained why she voted for the bill: "I believe that for a long time there was a balance between the social stigma of bankruptcy and the law, and essentially it worked for a very long time. Over the last decade, the social stigma of bankruptcy had evaporated. Almost to the point where if you were the only on your block not to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 (another bankruptcy law), you didn't know the secret handshake, you didn't know how to play the game."

And: "The opportunity here is to close these loopholes so that all consumers are not funding the errant ways of irresponsible people." Tauscher wants the law to promote "personal responsibility."

Great, but the bill does not promote personal responsibility among bankers. The banks give students and poor people credit that encourages them to spend more money than they have; the banks hand out unsecured credit as if it were candy; then the banks whine to the government that the government should pass laws to make up for their bad lending decisions.

When I told consumer activist Ralph Nader about the $250,000 offer, he exclaimed, "This is the ever-escalating seduction of Americans into over-extending their credit."

More over-extended credit-card holders, more bankruptcies. Right?

Travis Plunkett of the Consumer Federation of America recently described the lure-and-whine strategy of lenders as such: "Credit card issuers are brazenly lobbying for new bankruptcy restrictions at the same time their aggressive marketing and lending practices are pushing many families closer to the financial brink."

In the mail, they whisper: Charge a yacht. Then when the boat sails away, they whine about personal responsibility.

Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.


03/09/01: Free speech dies in Berkeley
03/02/01: When rats have rights
02/28/01: Move a frog, go to jail?
02/26/01: They knew they'd get away with it
02/20/01: How Dems define tax fairness
02/16/01: The jackpot casino Carmel tribe?
02/14/01: You can fight school success
02/12/01: Hannibal -- with guts this time
02/08/01: A family of jailbirds
02/05/01: Reality's most demeaning TV moments
02/01/01: Justice for the non-Rich
01/26/01: Hail to the chiefs of D.C. opinion
01/24/01: A day of mud and monuments
01/22/01: Diversity, division, de-lovely D.C.
01/19/01: Parties agree: Give back the money
01/17/01: Get tough with the oil companies, or forget pumping more Alaskan crude
01/15/01: Mineta better pray that no attending confirmation senator has ever driven to San Jose during rush hour
01/12/01: Europeans should look in the mirror
01/10/01: Dems' reasons for dissin' Dubya's picks
01/08/01: Jerry, curb your guru
01/03/01: A foe of Hitler and friend of Keating
12/28/00: Nice people think nice thoughts
12/26/00: The Clinton years: Epilogue
12/21/00: 'Tis the season to free nonviolent drug offenders 12/18/00: A golden opportunity is squandered
12/15/00: You can take the 24 years, good son
12/13/00: Court of law vs. court of public opinion
12/08/00: A salvo in the war on the war on drugs
12/06/00: Don't cry, Butterfly: Big trees make great decks
12/04/00: Florida: Don't do as Romans did
11/30/00: Special City's hotel parking ticket
11/27/00: No means yes, yes means more than yes
11/22/00: The bench, the ballot and fairness
11/20/00: Mendocino, how green is your ballot?

© 2000, Creators Syndicate