Tag: bankruptcy

Debtors’ Prison Still A Reality?

July 19, 2010 | By | 4 Replies More
Debtors’ Prison Still A Reality?

According to a recent article by Chris Serres at the Minnesota Star Tribune, courts still order debtors to go to jail when they can’t afford to pay a judgment.

Not only are the national media largely unaware of this phenomenon, but The New Yorker published an article last April that characterizes debtors’ prisons as a pre-20th Century institution, and describes the America as a refuge for debtors.

As many as two out of every three Europeans who came to the American colonies were debtors on arrival. Some colonies were, basically, debtors’ asylums. By the seventeen-sixties, sympathy for debtors had attached itself to the patriot cause.

Jill Lepore of The New Yorker goes on to describe how American treatment of debt has evolved to allow bankruptcy and why this is a good thing.

Debtors’ prison was abolished, and bankruptcy law was liberalized, because Americans came to see that most people who fall into debt are victims of the business cycle, and not of fate or divine retribution.

Even Wikipedia describes debtors’ prisons as a thing of the past, or at least an unconstitutional one, according to this 2009 New York Times editorial, “The New Debtors’ Prisons.”

20th Century Debtors’ Prison

Times have changed. To be sure, most Americans who are deep in credit card debt do not have bench warrants issued for their arrest. However, in Illinois, Indiana and other states, a person who’s gotten a judgment entered against them can miss a court date and find themselves being hounded by the police.

What about the argument that defendants may owe the money they are being sued for, and should have gone to court? Perhaps the threat of jail is the only way to make them appear in court.

Reporters from The New York Times and The Federal Trade Commission have found that the collection industry is in dire need of repair, and cited numerous, ubiquitous problems. Some of these problems are startling. To wit:

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Democrats: not the party for economic reform

June 9, 2009 | By | Reply More
Democrats: not the party for economic reform

In an article titled, “The Trouble with Democrats,” William Greider of The Nation documents the many ways in which the democrats lack the moral will to rein in predatory lending and enact real economic reform. How about modestly adjusting the bankruptcy code to allow 1.5 million people to keep their houses? Forget it. How about capping payday loans at 35%? No way. You see, most Democrats are scared of payday lenders unless the interest cap is 390%. How about putting meaningful rate caps on credit cards? No way, because the financial services industry doesn’t want that.

This article is a thoroughly disgusting review of Democrat spinelessness and a reminder about who pulls the strings in Washington. Hint: it’s not The People.

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The banks own the place.

May 3, 2009 | By | 7 Replies More
The banks own the place.

The banks “own the place.” What place? Congress. Who would say such a shocking thing? Someone relatively trustworthy: Dick Durbin. Consider this from Huffpo:

Only 45 Senate Democrats voted Thursday to oppose the banking industry and pass legislation aimed at stemming foreclosures. The bill would have allowed bankruptcy judges to allow homeowners who met strict conditions to renegotiate mortgages — a process known as cramdown. It would have only applied to mortgages entered into before 2009.

Earlier in the week, the measure’s lead proponent, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), concluded that banks “frankly own the place.”

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Musak is in big financial trouble: files for bankruptcy

February 19, 2009 | By | 5 Replies More
Musak is in big financial trouble: files for bankruptcy

A ubiquitous and uniquely American art form is in grave danger. On February 10, 2009, Muzak Holdings LLC filed for bankruptcy protection. You know, Muzak, often referred to as “elevator music“:

The style of music used was deliberately bland, so as not to intrude on foreground tasks, and adhered to precise limitations in tempo and dynamics. This style of music blended into the background as intended in most situations, but was sometimes noticeable (particularly in quiet spaces such as elevators). Thus the word “Muzak” began to be used as a pejorative for this type of “elevator music.”

Muzak is an acquired taste. I suspect that many of you haven’t invested the necessary time to come to terms with Muzak. It takes persistence and a wide-open sense of musicality to enjoy this specialized art form. Muzak itself has been at fault for much of this lack of appreciation. Consider Muzak’s obstinate failure to take its music and its musicians on nationwide tours and its failure to provide Muzak-appreciation courses for grade-school students. Nor has Muzak taken the time to go into the inner cities to enrich the lives of underprivileged children with its idiosyncratic art form. Perhaps, though, these failures were all for the best, give the attendant risk to enjoying Muzak: based on my own personal experience, Muzak is capable of triggering an especially pernicious and annoying form of earworm.

On a serious note, Muzak-type music has intentionally been employed as a social repellent:

During the last ten years, another use of elevator music has emerged, not with the aim of relaxation and pleasure, but to make loitering less attractive for those people who dislike the music (allegedly aimed toward drug addicts, prostitutes). For this purpose serious classical music (e.g. opera, marches or sonatas) is used and played louder than usual. One of the first places it was tested was in Amsterdam.

The bottom line is that Muzak is struggling and we might need to figure out what else we can possibly do in elevators and stores. Maybe we’ll have to work harder to become interesting to ourselves.

Consider, finally, The Onion’s requiem for Muzak.

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