Thursday, March 10, 2005

Open Letter to Senator Norm Coleman

Well a little Bass Pundit/Bass Pastor blogizan activism on the upcoming vote on new bankruptcy legislation that looks like it will pass. Honestly I don't have the answers, but I am very suspicious of the wisdom of this legislation and am quite skeptical as to whether or not a problem even exists that needs to be fixed or if it does that this legislation will do the job. Maybe it's a good thing, maybe not.

Senator Coleman,

I am writing regarding the upcoming vote on the bankruptcy legislation as a semi-concerned citizen. I say "semi-concerned" because I am not well versed on the bill or the issues involved. Also I am pretty sure that the ramifications of this bill will not effect me as that I have recently been Discharged of Debts under Chapter 7 and don't plan on ever putting myself in a position again.

Having gone through the bankruptcy process I am thankful that it was available and am also grateful that it was a relatively easy and painless process. Filing for bankruptcy was not something I am proud of or really wanted to do, but was the first good financial decision I've made in a long time. I recognize that I made a lot of poor and plainly irresponsible financial decisions along the way, but there were also significant contributing factors that were beyond my control. In addition, I think a strong argument in my case could be made that the Credit companies made poor and plainly irresponsible financial decisions that were about equal to mine.

I guess I am worried that the legal process might not really be broken and therefore might not need to be "fixed." Or if the law does need to be reformed, I am concerned that at the end of the day the only real winners will be already wealthy lawyers, and corporate interests while the people who are like me who really need relief will be left with a process that is far more difficult and expensive. Call me a bleeding heart liberal, but if it's a direct choice between subsidizing of the rich vs. subsiding of the poor, than I think you must side with those who "have not" over those that "have" provided of coarse you are not destroying the "haves" economically to do it because that really doesn't redound in benefit to anyone.

Please understand, I am not necessarily anti-lawyer or corporations as that I obviously had help getting the bankruptcy from an attorney and my oldest brother is employed by American Express here in Minnesota; American Express also happened to be the the credit lender that I owed the most money, therefore was the biggest loser when my discharge was granted. I recognize that corporations like American Express do a tremendous amount of good by employing thousands of people. I know the banking industry plays a key role in extending opportunity and economic prosperity and growth that benefits all of society.

At the same time however, I recognize that the banking industry is highly susceptible to the temptations that come from having immense institutional power and a concentrated focus on wealth which can lead to a pursuit of courses of action that are ethically questionable or sacrifice larger long term benefits for short sighted gains.

Here's the questions that I think you should answer before voting in favor of this upcoming legislation:

1.Specifically what about current bankruptcy law is a problem?

2. Who specifically is it a problem for and why do they need the reform?

3. What is the cost benefit analysis of the current law vs. a cost benefit analysis of the proposed law? Noting who benefits and how much under each legal paradigm.

4. How will the proposed reform effect everyone in the equation ie: lenders, debtors, lawyers? Noting both probable intended and possible unintended consequences?

5. Is the Credit industry currently profitable? If so how profitable and is this level of growth most likely sustainable under the current system?

6. If the Credit industry is the major benefactor of the proposed reforms than what steps are they taking to get their own house in order where they have contributed to the problems that they are seeking to address?

If it can be shown with a commitment to intellectual integrity that the proposed reforms are win/win/win situation than I think you should vote in favor of the legislation. However, if it only benefits lawyers and bankers than I believe the only choice is to vote NO!

I don't have the answers, but I think this issue is important and requires your careful deliberation because this is a vote for which I believe you may be held accountable by a Higher Authority than me at some point.

"He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
but whoever is kind to the needy honors God."
Proverbs 14:31 (New International Version)

Dave Maas