culture, politics, commentary, criticism

Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Equal opportunity destroyer. America's middle is caught in a downward spiral: the middle aged and the middle class are going broke in record numbers (
WSJ, 8/6/04, sub. req'd.):
Since the 1960s, personal bankruptcy has often been a haven for the young and struggling. Bankruptcy lawyers say younger and less-educated people tended to rack up too much debt while starting families and jobs, without a savings cushion to carry them through lean times. No government agency tracks the age of bankruptcy filers, but the rule of thumb, say those who've worked in and studied the field, was the older the group, the fewer the filers.

That's changing, as personal bankruptcy filings are hitting all-time highs. Last year, there were more than 1.6 million such filings, compared with 875,000 a decade earlier. Some experts say much of the increase is being driven by older people, many of whom have decades of work experience in white-collar jobs.

The Consumer Bankruptcy Project, which surveyed 2,400 bankruptcy filers in 2001 and 1991, found that on a per capita basis, older people are now the most likely to file. In 2001, for instance, per capita filings of individuals ages 45 to 54 increased 58%, to 11 per thousand, according to the study. "The curve is moving to the right," says Elizabeth Warren, a professor at Harvard University Law School, who co-authored the study. "It reflects a more frightening reality for a wide swath of middle-class America."


Ben B. Floyd, a personal-bankruptcy trustee in Houston for the past 30 years, says he's now seeing people "who obviously had a white-collar background. They come in looking lost." Personal-bankruptcy lawyers across the country say they've witnessed a tidal shift in their practices, seeing older clients with longer work histories. "These people didn't take their credit cards to Atlantic City," says Gabriel Del Virginia, a New York bankruptcy attorney. "It's largely because people lost their jobs or had a catastrophic illness."
Bankruptcies have doubled since the Clinton years. Is it a coincidence?

Note to the GOP: why don't you tackle the real, systemic problems of job and health security and your own fiscal responsibility before you address the high-drama but low-impact problems of abortion and gay marriage?

Greatest Hits · Alternatives to First Command Financial Planning · First Command, last resort, Part 3 · Part 2 · Part 1 · Stealing $50K from a widow: Wells Real Estate · Leo Wells, REITs and divine wealth · Sex-crazed Red State teenagers · What I hate: a manifesto · Spawn of Darleen Druyun · All-American high school sex party · Why is Ken Lay smiling? · Poppy's Enron birthday party · The Saudi money laundry and the president's uncle · The sentence of Enron's John Forney · The holiness of Neil Bush's marriage · The Silence of Cheney: a poem · South Park Christians · Capitalist against Bush: Warren Buffett · Fastow childen vs. Enron children · Give your prescription money to your old boss · Neil Bush, hard-working matchmaker · Republicans against fetuses and pregnant women · Emboldened Ken Lay · Faith-based jails · Please die for me so I can skip your funeral · A brief illustrated history of the Republican Party · Nancy Victory · Soldiers become accountants · Beware the Merrill Lynch mob · Darleen Druyun's $5.7 billion surprise · First responder funding · Hoovering the country · First Command fifty percent load · Ken Lay and the Atkins diet · Halliburton WMD · Leave no CEO behind · August in Crawford · Elaine Pagels · Profitable slave labor at Halliburton · Tom Hanks + Mujahideen · Sharon & Neilsie Bush · One weekend a month, or eternity · Is the US pumping Iraqi oil to Kuwait? · Cheney's war · Seth Glickenhaus: Capitalist against Bush · Martha's blow job · Mark Belnick: Tyco Catholic nut · Cheney's deferred Halliburton compensation · Jeb sucks sugar cane · Poindexter & LifeLog · American Family Association panic · Riley Bechtel and the crony economy · The Book of Sharon (Bush) · The Art of Enron · Plunder convention · Waiting in Kuwait: Jay Garner · What's an Army private worth? · Barbara Bodine, Queen of Baghdad · Sneaky bastards at Halliburton · Golf course and barbecue military strategy · Enron at large · Recent astroturf · Cracker Chic 2 · No business like war business · Big Brother · Martha Stewart vs. Thomas White · Roger Kimball, disappointed Republican poetry fan · Cheney, Lay, Afghanistan · Terry Lynn Barton, crimes of burning · Feasting at the Cheney trough · Who would Jesus indict? · Return of the Carlyle Group · Duct tape is for little people · GOP and bad medicine · Sears Tower vs Mt Rushmore · Scared Christians · Crooked playing field · John O'Neill: The man who knew · Back to the top

. . .