Nota Bene #119: Think! It Ain't Illegal Yet

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” Who said it? Continue reading

Ten years on: was Columbine the rule or the exception?

Part two in a series

How did it happen? Why did it happen? There’s simply no way to measure how many hours have devoted to these questions in the ten years and four days since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire at Columbine High School, and while we don’t (and never will) have all the answers, we do have some of them. Obviously a good bit of the discussion focuses on the individuals themselves, and other analyses cast a broader net, examining the social factors that shaped the individuals. In a way, the question we’re still debating perhaps boils down to nature vs. nurture. Were Harris and Klebold Natural Born Killers? Or are they better understood as by-products of deeper social trends and dynamics?

The answer is probably “All of the above,” but we can’t simply check C and be on our merry, uncritical way. Continue reading

Legacy of the bankruptcy bill: More foreclosures, financial meltdowns, and open corruption

By Martin Bosworth

One of my first big battles as a consumer advocate was campaigning against the 2005 bankruptcy bill overhaul, which sadly passed despite all our best efforts. Looking back, I still can’t believe that Congress so willingly supported such a horrific bill that penalizes consumers and condemns them to indentured financial servitude simply for having bad luck. Was it really worth it to ensure that credit card companies would be able to extract their pounds of flesh from debtors for years to come?

Well, karma is a bitch, and it seems that one of the net effects of the bill is that cash-strapped homeowners, who formerly would have let their credit card debt go into collection in order to preserve their mortgages, are now doing the reverse–letting their homes go into foreclosure in order to focus on paying credit card debt. Continue reading

The Bush administration's waging war on consumer safety–and we're fighting back

By Martin Bosworth

Safe products are one of those things it’s hard to create any kind of meaningful opposition against. You can argue (rightly or wrongly) about the Iraq war, or changing immigration law, or universal health insurance–but who can honestly say they oppose ensuring that our kids’ toys are safe to play with, that our food is safe to eat, and that our everyday products are safe to use?

Well, apparently, the Bush regime can, if the actions of current Consumer Product Safety Commission head Nancy Nord are any indication.

Nord is on record as opposing new legislation that would increase her agency’s budget, improve its oversight and enforcement powers, and strengthen penalties for companies that sell recalled or dangerous products. That’s such a Bizarro World stance that I have to say it again–Congress wants to beef up an agency that has been crippled by budget cuts and indolent, corrupt leadership, and the agency head is against it. Continue reading