Judgmental, Much?

This post, in response to this one is yet more evidence that the sanctimonious “live within your means” and “pay your bills no matter what”  hyenas have no empathy.

Obviously, Abigail has never taken a financial misstep in her life, so much so, that she feels she is eminently qualified to sit on her high horse and shake her proverbial finger at everyone else.

My heart goes out to Emily, the author of the original post. I can’t imagine how hard it has been for you, losing a child,  while facing your financial difficulties. I want to thank you for sharing your story and I hope that you and your husband make the most of the second chance that bankruptcy affords you.

Now for my response to Abigail’s post:


Yes, thank goodness those creditors won’t get more things to help make up for the losses they’re taking on your debts. Nothing but gratitude that those vultures — they want you to pay back what you spent! — don’t get your stuff to make up for taking a chance on you and losing. Suck on that, people who expected you to live up to your responsibilities!

Aside from the fact that credit card companies and banks encourage people to take on debt, even when it may not be in their best interests to do so, no one ever borrows money without intending to pay it back. Defaults are just a cost of doing business for these “creditors.” Please don’t make it sound like there are actual “people” who are being denied their due, much less being hurt by the fact that someone who got in over her head took advantage of bankruptcy protection afforded by the Federal government.


I can understand frustration at being taught basic financial facts that you feel you already know. And yet… You bought a second store when the first one began to struggle. So perhaps you shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the financial lessons contained in these sessions?

Perhaps you weren’t being “patronized,” but instead were given the opportunity to look into your situation and see any assumptions or miscalculations of finances that got you into this mess?

And even if all the classes taught was “Debt is bad. Live within your means.” maybe, just maybe, your miscalculations — whether of judgment, finance or simply underestimating risk — mean that they should assume you need teaching from the ground up.

One of the truly horrid facts about the bankruptcy reform that was enacted in 2005 is the requirement to receive credit counseling before you’re able to file. Most credit counselors are nice people, but I am sure there are few bad apples out there, and clearly, Emily encountered one of these.

No one should be “talked down to” or shamed for needing to apply for bankruptcy protection. People who go bankrupt already know they’ve messed up, whether or not they actually have or not. They don’t need to be reminded of this ad nauseam, as much as you and your ilk would love to do so.

Those phone calls? They are people who want the money you promised them. The money they gave to you to spend. Yes, debt collectors can be a horrid, abusive bunch. But to portray companies’ attempts to get what they are due as “harassment” is to get carried away with hyperbole.

Debt collectors are the scum of the earth. Don’t try and make them out to be just trying do “get what they’re due.”  They flout laws designed to protect debtors  from abusive practices. (Yes, even people who owe money, GASP, have rights.)  And, excuse me, but what are you supposed to tell them when they call over and over again demanding money that you just don’t have? Repeated phone calls are harassment.  I call your attention to Section 806 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act,  wherein harassment is prohibited  and defined.  Specifically, I call your attention to  subsection 5  which reads:

Causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.

Abigail, you need to learn to have empathy for others.  Perhaps it is true that you have  a perfect financial record, or that you’ve been able to work out any financial trouble you’ve had without resorting to bankruptcy, but that does not give you the right to judge others.

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4 Responses to “Judgmental, Much?”

  1. Abigail says:

    While I admit to being overly vitriolic, I would like to point out that every single point I made was about her ATTITUDE, not about her actions. They made a business decision and it didn’t turn out.

    I wish she would have explained it a bit, rather than just tossing off the very strange comment that sales began to slide and they then bought a second franchise.

    My problem was with the cavalier way she referred to the process, as though it were just some huge waste of her time. Some horrible inconvenience.

    If she had explained herself better, she wouldn’t have come off in that way. If she had only said something like, “The responsible side of me knew better, but part of me secretly wished we’d just taken a vacation anyway. It was all going down the toilet, so what was the difference?”

    That I would have understood. That would have made sense. But instead she tossed off the line that she wished they had gone on a beach vacation. And she was happy that the trustees had nothing to take.

    And please remember that not all creditors are big business. Some are small. There are individuals who don’t get paid back, in addition to the faceless corporations. (And why *is* it okay to screw over a business but not a person? Or a person you don’t know but not one you do? I have an overactive guilt complex perhaps but to me there isn’t a lot of difference.)

    I would have had no qualms with her story at all, if she had taken the time to explain herself, rather than slap out attitude-filled lines. I doubt she meant them to sound that way. Nevertheless, they did.

    As for me, I’m hardly on any high horse. My husband and I both have chronic illnesses that keep us from earning much at all. The health-related costs also got us into debt.

    Regardless, I can’t imagine difference finances would have changed my opinions too much — though I suppose we never know for sure. But I wasn’t reacting from some ivory tower. I was reacting to the utter disdain she seemed to have for the consequences of a decision she made.

    We have a very scary and annoying tendency in this country to act like debt is just some personal inconvenience — something sent to frustrate us, rather than a consequence of actions. (We don’t always have options other than the actions we take, but we still have to accept that the consequences arise as a direct result of them.)

    It seems like bankruptcy is even worse. It’s talked about in this laissez-faire kind of way. We found ourselves in debt, we’ll just get out of it through bankruptcy.

    The way Emily described everything in her post, it was that exact same attitude, loud and clear: Thank goodness the trustees couldn’t take things they owned to pay debts they owed? Since they were going to be financially ruined anyway, she wished they’d been more irresponsible?

    So there you are. Perhaps you still think I don’t get it. But there is a bit of irony there, since my outrage stemmed from the distinct impression that Emily is the one who didn’t get it.

    Next week, Emily will be making a rebuttal, I believe, so do tune in. I got a small peek, and she definitely explains herself better. Which, I suppose, will be all sorts of ammunition for her readers to decry my utter bitch-itude.

    Then again, that’s the thing: When you make it a point to tell a story, but don’t make it a point to choose your words carefully or, at least, don’t give enough details, you can only get so angry when your readers draw conclusions you think are wrong.

  2. Abigail says:

    PS. Emily didn’t say she was talked down to. She said they had to sit through a finance class she could have taught.

  3. Kathy McGraw says:


    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post. I still think you’re miles off mark, but I do want to say that I sympathize with your situation. I can well understand how medical bills can stack up.

    My husband and I are in a bit of the same situation: both of us have disabilities that make it hard for us to work normal jobs. This is one of the reasons why I blog, other than it gives me the ability to do something I love, which is to write. 🙂

    On the subject on medical bills, did you know that unaffordable medical bills are the top reason families go bankrupt? More disturbingly, most of the families who go bankrupt due to medical bills have medical insurance!

    I didn’t read her post as being cavalier about it all in the very least. I read a story about another human being who may have made some incorrect decisions (such as buying into the second store when receipts were falling on the first) and who took advantage of the protections allowed by law to save herself and her family from complete financial ruin. I could see from her words that it was a tough decision to make and a difficult process to go through.

    From what I read of your post, you don’t like bankruptcy and believe it is all too often used by people to avoid the consequences of their actions. I am not going to say that *some* people don’t use it that way, but I believe the costs not having that protection available would be horrendous for the entire country.

    As to whether it is right to screw over a corporation or someone you don’t know rather than someone you do, no, it is never ok to screw anyone over. I think we just disagree on who is screwing whom over. In fact, it is often these big businesses that have the cavalier attitude about debt. In the case of credit card companies and large banks, their business is debt and some have it included in their business model that a certain number of people will default. They “write off” the defaulted accounts after a certain period of time and this becomes a “loss” that they take on their taxes.

    Many of them also insure their debts against default…this is known as a credit default swap, and they will get reimbursed for the full value of the debt, while STILL being able to go after the debtor for it even though they’ve already been paid. Moreover, the financial services industry makes most of its money by lending to people that they know CAN’T pay them back!

    Elizabeth Warren had the opportunity to make a presentation to a group of Citibank executives about how they could reduce credit card defaults and losses related to bankruptcy. At the end of the day, her advice was simple: She advised them to stop lending money to people in financial trouble. The top executive in the room thanked her for her presentation but said that Citibank had no interest in ceasing to lend money to the financially strapped. In fact, the financially strapped were the ones that provided Citibank with most of its profit!

    So, tell me, who is cavalier about debt? The people, like Emily, who run it up, for whatever reason, or the industry that relies on people to be unable to pay so that it can extract every last penny it can from them and make billions of dollars in profits doing so?

    I do agree with you that it is a good idea to live within your means, and in a perfect world, everyone would be able to do so. The only problem is the cost of living has made it very difficult, and most families are one step away from financial trouble, even in the best of times. A single job loss or an illness can send anyone over the cliff. This is a problem we need to address before we can truly tackle debt, national, state, and personal.

  4. Abigail says:

    On a completely different note (I rather feel we’ve said all there is to say on this one) it’s refreshing to find someone in somewhat similar circumstances to my own situation. And since my blog is all about frugality/debt reduction under imperfect circumstances, I hope you’ll consider doing a guest post for me some time. (Not all my posts are quite like the one you disagreed with.)

    It might be good exposure for this site, which I do quite like.

    Email or contact me through my site if you decide you’re interested. (I’d have just emailed you but I couldn’t find contact info anywhere on the site.)

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