Thursday, September 15, 2005

Follow the Money, Indeed!

Good one by Molly Ivins,via Truthout: Follow the Money For The Real Story

Follow the Money for the Real Story
By Molly Ivins
The Chicago Tribune

Thursday 15 September 2005
Austin, Texas - Here's a good idea: Consumer groups and progressive congress-folks have joined in an effort to stop hundreds of thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina from being further harmed by the new bankruptcy law, scheduled to take effect Oct. 17. This law was written of, by and for the consumer credit industry and is particularly onerous for the poor.

The bill was passed with massive support from the Republican leadership in Congress and from a disgusting number of sellout Democrats. While it was being considered in committee earlier this year, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) offered an amendment to protect victims of natural disasters. It was defeated, without debate, on a party-line vote.

Now, Congress has a chance to rethink some of the most punitive parts of the bill. Katrina victims who were planning to file before the new law goes into effect are out of luck - where are they gonna find a lawyer, let alone an open courthouse?

Under the new law, anyone whose income is above the state median must file under Chapter 13, a more restrictive category that requires some repayment of debt. The new law grants no exemption for natural disaster, even though it's going to be a little tough for some citizen sitting in the Houston Astrodome who no longer has a home to come up with tax statements, pay stubs and six months of income and expense data.

Meanwhile, it's an ill wind that blows no one good, so we should not be surprised to learn the first winner out of the gate on Katrina is Halliburton Co., whose deserving subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root already has been granted a $29.8 million contract for cleanup work in the wake of Katrina.

Now I am curious about the bureaucracy end of all this- I recall as a case worker the many papers, birth certificate, stubs, statements, etc. needed just for a few bucks in food stamps. How will they balance efficiency against potential for fraud? Now we can point fingers and say that NOBODY should be worried about fraud at a time like this. But this is going to be a long haul scenario. And people very quickly worry about fraud, and endless bureacratic hoops emerge, to divide the deserving from the 'undeserving'. Like the way they separate 'looters' from 'supply finders'...Its the American way.
We will see, as in Florida, the rise of a glistening new FEMA-land, full of trailers in rows. And our government, in typical fashion, will commence grilling of these victims as with others from hurricanes past. What are you doing to fix your life? Show us all the job ads you've answered.... fight for what you need, but nobody will fight to see that you get it. By then we'll be on to other things.


Cantankerous Bitch said...

The sad irony, of course, is that while everyone is scrutinizing each penny for claim fraud, they'll be totally oblivious to the reconstruction fraud that's immeasurably more likely to occur. And our collective lack of attention in the coming months will be partly to blame.

Thanks for posting this, Lily.

Lily said...

Exactly the irony that should be hitting us all in the head right about....yesterday.
We care so much about fraud when its a person marginally surviving, but yet "corporate welfare", "contracts" and "cronyism" are SO not a concern.

Elfster said...

"...but yet "corporate welfare", "contracts" and "cronyism" are SO not a concern."

When you combine that hallmark of the Shrub/Duh Administration with the blatant corruption of the Louisiana political system (which permeates nearly every walk/level of life in Louisiana and is treated as "a lot of noise about nothing") -- the fraud results should be absolutely spectacular. Shrub/Duh will have a wonderful time trying to sweep all this under the rug, especially since corruption is something that is done out in the open as an accepted part of life within Louisiana.

Lily said...

Well can I be grossly non-intellectual (meaning, even less so than the usual, which is sketchy at best) and make an emotional comment- and say that I make a distinction between the impassioned corrupt (Nagin) and the indifferent corrupt? See, there is a difference between playing a game to get things done and outright blatant scorn for entire categories of people...