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Mike: once again I agree with your response to ChicagoBob and just wanted to add a few more comments.

The ABI study that I mentioned in my last post (and ChicagoBob was kind enough to slog through) also mentions the reasons people file for bankruptcy:
"For consumer bankruptcy, three primary causes were each cited by two-thirds of the respondents. They were the ease of obtaining personal credit and credit cards, loss of a job, and financial mismanagement. Two additional reasons -- medical problems and marital/family problems -- were each endorsed by 57 percent of the respondents. However, the reported causes of consumer bankruptcy did vary by type of district. In rural districts, job loss, litigation/legal action, and disaster/catastrophic event were relatively less likely to be cited. In mixed districts, medical problems and marital/family problems were relatively more likely to be cited. In contrast, medical problems and marital/family problems were relatively less likely to be cited in the ten largest cities, but job loss, litigation/legal action, business/employer failure, and disaster/catastrophic event were relatively more likely to be cited.
Interestingly, there was no statistically significant difference among these types of districts with respect to either financial mismanagement or the ease of obtaining personal credit and credit cards."

Gee, who would have thought that financial mismanagement and the ease of obtaining personal credit and credit cards was pervasive everywhere? :-) The ABI also has a chart that shows how the increase in consumer debt is directly tied to the increase in bankruptcy filings. For those of you visually oriented:

The ABI report does state (as ChicagoBob pointed out): "However, abuse does not appear to be the type of systemic problem justifying the wholesale revision of bankruptcy law.", but the previous sentence also states: "Thus, it appears that abuse is a problem that needs to be addressed and that some aspects of the problem need to be addressed by local initiatives, rather than by federal legislation."

In conclusion, I just wanted to state that I think the expanding consumer debt and increasing bankruptcy filings are a serious problem that need to be addressed (though the proposed legislation is probably not the way to do it). Bankruptcy is no longer only a personal problem that affects only the debtor (and it is a BIG negative), but an expanding problem that is having an effect on all of us.

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