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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ah, the Golden Age of Banking

American Scofflaw

Bankruptcy is painful. Charles Dickens wrote of the horrors of 19th century Debtor's Prisons. Fall behind on your mortgage or horse-and-buggy loan and the progenitor of Citibank would swoop in for all your assets, throw you into prison, and ship your wife and kids off to a Workhouse until your debts were satisfied. Ah, the Golden Age of Banking!

Bankruptcy laws became more humane in the 20th century. You are entitled to certain "protected assets" that Citibank's Repo Man cannot touch and little Josh and Tiffany need not join Oliver Twist on the sneaker assembly line. That work is all done by kids in Cambodia and Sri Lanka anyway and they don't ask for another bowl of porridge.

Last week, the US Congress struck a blow for real Americans in these tough economic times. It approved a bill permitting individuals filing for bankruptcy to exempt up to three firearms with an aggregate value of $1,500 from creditors' claims. You can still lose your home, car, and the clothes off your back to Citibank, but, by God, they're not getting your AK-47.

This is the same Congress that initially rejected extending Unemployment Benefits for the long-term jobless. Clearly, the unemployed would be wise to use that last benefit check not to pay down the mortgage or the credit card bill, but to purchase a weapon. You can use it to shoot your food in the nearby woods or, for you urban dwellers, empty out the neighborhood bodega if you are armed.

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