Tuesday, June 21, 2005

In Class I've Got Class

Tonight in class I was having a pretty hard time paying attention. So I spent most of the class daydreaming a little bit, tuning in and out at varying intervals (which I admit is moronic because I have a test on Thursday.) Around the midway point my professor said something that caught my attention.

She started talking about the new Bankruptcy Bill which has recently been passed by Congress. Her contention is that the bill has been written by and for the major credit card companies (which it has) and that it is unfair to the middle and working class and will force unjust hardship upon those classes, while "the rich" will continue to abuse the system to avoid paying their debts because they can afford the best lawyers (my professor is a lawyer by profession, I mention that only for purposes of indicating to you that this is not an uneducated idiot we're talking about here.)

I immediately became incensed at the things she was saying, not because they were untrue, because they are not, but because THAT'S CAPITALISM! That's how our entire system, our country operates. Why is it the government's responsibility to step in and save these people who have run up a mountain of credit card debt (yes, even if the cause is catastrophic medical emergency) and excuse them from repaying it at the expense of a credit card company?

At this point comes my favorite idiotic argument: "Well the credit card companies make so much money anyway, I don't think they're hurting too much?"

That is completely beside the point. More power to them because they earn a lot of money. The fact that MBNA makes a ton of money, an unimaginable, obscene amount of money has absolutely no bearing on this topic. As a corporation operating in the United States of America, the executives of MBNA have not only a right to continue to make money, but a fiduciary duty to its stockholders to optimize the companies profits as well, not to give hand outs.

I got so mad sitting there in class listening to her, but I kept my mouth shut. Two other students in the class spoke up and debated the issue with her for a minute, but I said nothing. A business law lecture is no place for economic and political debate. Plus, it's her show and I don't want to debate in her forum.

Then, I come home and I'm calm but I had been thinking about this post since the moment the discussion ended. I knew I had to write this post, because if you do not allow yourself to vent your anger in one forum, you must find another outlet, yes? I thought I'd sit down and write a nice calm little recap post about what happened in class and that would be all.


When I Googled the term "2005 Bankruptcy Bill" the first eight sites listed were sites bashing the bill for the same reasons my professor did. That got me all angry again, and that's why this post is so long.

I'm not proposing the right answer here. I don't know the right answer. I know that more than half of the bankruptcies filed in the U.S. are filed immediately after a medical emergency. What I don't know is why a credit card company should made to suffer by law because Luke Sonnier got sick? I may be singing a different tune when I get cancer because I've been a smoker for ten years, but if that happens, you guys just point me back here, ok?

also know that the other half of bankruptcies filed in the U.S. are made up mostly of recently divorced women whose husbands don't pay adequate child support and by people who've lost their jobs. But once again, these are individual's problems, not credit card company problems.

I wish I did know the answer. I wish I could come up with a solution for all parties. Something like a private investment firm who settles individuals' debts with creditors and subsequently collects the money from the individual.

Whatever the answer is, this bill will not be the end of if the issue. There are too may problems and not enough protection for people who find themselves with severe misfortune like I mentioned above. But I don't think this bill is the huge step in the wrong direction that so many people seem to think it is.