October 15, 2005
I am not making this up. I want to be clear about that from the outset. The daily papers are full of stories about a record number of people filing for bankruptcy before the Herb Kohl-supported punitive new bankruptcy law takes effect on Monday. "I have a lot of medical bills and, unfortunately, I can't pay them," said a legal assistant and mother of three in an interview with the New York Times.
The Times article began, "There were construction workers, schoolteachers and medical center managers. From Manhattan to Minneapolis, Chicago to San Francisco, they stood in long lines that snaked a block or more for much of yesterday. Some brought their children. Some had arrived at dawn." (Don't you wonder what the kids were thinking?)
Medical bills, student loans, unemployment, divorce--all problems forcing people into bankruptcy. The mind boggles at the thought of millionaire senators and administration officials driving by the lines in stretch limos. Would they shout, "Get a job!"? Or, "Eat cake"? "Pay your bills. This is an opportunity society"? ("Join the Army"?)
But back to the story of the greatest snow job I've heard since bar time in college. Treasury Secretary John Snow was in China on Friday, touring a farmer's market. Here is the report. Snow promoted "financial modernization." He urged the Chinese to take lessons from the United States "on how to spend more, borrow more, and save less." Whoa Nelly! Snow said the Chinese need "financial sophistication offered by American banks and investment banks." I am not kidding. That is what he said. Check it out.
The American saving rate is less than zero while China's is nearly 50 percent. Here is the finishing touch: "We see consumerism and consumer credit as going directly to the thing we have most on our minds--the global imbalance." Oh, my.
Not the financial global imbalance, not global warming that would be fueled by more consumerism in China; not peak oil; not Katrina; not Iraq. Nope. The most pressing issue for John Snow is that the Chinese save money and that hurts American banks who have brought Americans high credit, enormous consumer debt, the punitive bankruptcy bill and yesterday's long lines. Ah, but I repeat my story.
Here is an idea. In my grade school, the Sisters had us send money to adopt a poor family in the developing world. Let's follow John Snow. Why not send a credit card application to a friend in China? Don't have one? Call 1-888-Snow Job.
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