Moral Bankruptcy

Well, unless a miracle happens or some members realize that the best way to ensure continued largesse from the credit card industry is to somehow kill this thing while pretending to support it, it should be a done deal. It sucks, but it was an absolute miracle when it failed to pass the last time, and we had more senators then. Elizabeth Warren has some additional thoughts.

If nothing else we'll be spared the spectacle of Biden '08.
One of the fundamental problems with this legislation is that it is motivated by the same principle that guides Bush’s intent to reform Social Security. He believes that removing such safety nets will inspire people to change their spending and saving habits. The problem is, as I’ve mentioned before, in a post about free needle programs that I wrote for Ezra’s place:
Rarely can legislation fundamentally alter human habits; it more frequently simply criminalizes or legalizes an already common practice, without doing much to alter the commission of the underlying deed. There is a real world out there that must be acknowledged when constructing policies so inextricably linked to human behavior.

A Protestant theologian called Reinhold Niebuhr wrote something called the Serenity Prayer, which has been reproduced on plaques, mugs, collectible plates, laminated prayer cards, posters with kittens, and all other manner of paraphernalia. “God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.” Sometimes it is indeed wise to respect the folly of humans, to know that the change you want to make isn’t necessarily the one you can make. That’s reality, and ignoring it makes for bad policy.
Conservatives like to think they’re being magnanimous when they something like, “I believe that every person has the ability to take care of him- or herself and doesn’t need to rely on the government.” And it’s a nice theory. But it doesn’t address the reality that a reliance on Social Security or the last resort of bankruptcy isn’t always the result of weakness; sometimes people are just plain old unlucky. Sometimes a debilitating illness, the death of a primary breadwinner, a bad investment, or a swindle by a crook can wreak havoc with the life of an otherwise responsible and hardworking person.

That’s life. Disregarding its facts is not only ignorant, but cruel.

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