Sunday, March 28, 2010

We' re not the the only ones who have had problems with banks

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.

Thomas Jefferson, (Attributed)
3rd president of US (1743 - 1826)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Is Big Brother Positioned to Pick Your Pocket?

Is Big Brother Positioned to Pick Your Pocket? 

An article in Monday, March 8, 2010 Wall Street Journal by Ellen E. Schultz provides a cautionary tale for recipients of Social Security benefits.  The U.S. Treasury Dept. is on a tear, increasing the percentage of collections resulting from Social Security withholding from 1.6% in 2001 to "roughly 10%..." in 2008. 

How? Why? The "why" is probably obvious: our government is desperate to close the gap between income and expenses.  It recently gotten a new weapon in its arsenal: a provision in the 2008 Farm Bill which "lifted the 10-year statute of limitations on the government's ability to withhold Social Security benefits in collecting debts other than student loans..." WSJ, March 8, 2010.  Doubtless many of its claims are valid.  Of note, though, are two examples in the article.  In the first example, the SSA badly mishandled a claim, and resolved it only after the death of the person.  The second example involved a student loan obtained by forgery.  The victim of the forgery had to prove disability so she doesn't have to pay it back!  (I guess the SSA is not willing to concede she doesn't actually owe the money.)

Bankruptcy often doesn't help for these borrowers.  So what does one do? First, dispute a false or shaky claim.  Professional help - an attorney versed in Social Security appeals - can be worth his weight in gold. If the debt is valid, though, an ounce of prevention is likely to be better than a pound of cure (especially if there is no cure.)  Diplomacy may be more effective than direct confrontation. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Church Tithing, Charitable Giving and Bankruptcy

Church Tithing, Charitable Giving and Bankruptcy
My favorite article from today's Wall Street Journal is front page