Letters

By , Amy Jay and Kelly Thacher

Bankruptcy bill would not hurt women Regarding Elizabeth Warren's opinion article "The New women's issue: bankruptcy law" (Sept. 10): Ms. Warren asserts that theBankruptcy Reform Act of 1999 would have a uniquely detrimental effect on women. Her conclusions are incorrect on several points.

She claims that the bill gives inappropriate protections to credit card companies relating to the dischargeability of certain credit card debts. Current law already contains an exception to discharge for debtors who make inappropriate purchases on the eve of bankruptcy. The bill simply closes loopholes in this law that allow debtors to evade limits.

Perhaps most astonishing is the practice (apparently becoming more common) of debtors taking a cash advance with a credit card, and then using the cash to pay their bankruptcy filing fees!

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If Warren were truly concerned about the burdens imposed by nondischargeability, she would do better to direct her ire against nondischargeable tax liabilities than much-smaller credit-card obligations.

Warren is right to bemoan abuse of the homestead exemptions. The bill in fact preserves the traditional use of homestead exemptions while limiting their abuse. But it does not limit itself to reducing abuse of the homestead exemption. It takes a comprehensive approach to rooting out all forms of bankruptcy abuse.

Warren does not acknowledge that the primary opposition to the bill has emanated from one isolated corner - bankruptcy lawyers. While bankruptcy lawyers have been quick to challenge the motives of creditors in seeking reform, they have been slow to acknowledge their own interest in frustrating reform. Bankruptcy is now a $5 billion a year industry for lawyers and others. By reducing filings by high-income debtors and reducing the costs of the bankruptcy system, the bill will reduce the volume and cost of bankruptcy. Thus, while the public will benefit, bankruptcy lawyers will not.

Perhaps most alarming to the bankruptcy bar is the provision in the bill to elevate payment of child support obligations to first administrative priority - a position currently occupied by attorneys' fees and obligations.

It is ironic that bankruptcy lawyers have challenged the motives of the creditors' lobby while failing to acknowledge their own financial interests in opposing reform. Todd J. Zywicki, Arlington, Va. Assistant law professor George Mason University

Minding bookstore manners Regarding Amy Wu's opinion article ("Bookstore gluttony," Sept. 3): I think the whole first paragraph is largely fiction. The Barnes & Noble caf is an experiment. Whether it stands or falls depends on how many magazines and books they sell.

I have never seen anyone misusing a book like that. There are unlimited napkins free to take. It just doesn't add up. Amy Jay, New York

Much of what Amy Wu wrote is right on target. As the old adage says, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" But she shouldn't refer to patrons like the finger-licking, jam-smearing fellow in the first paragraph as "book lovers," for if they were, they wouldn't abuse their privileges. Like Ms. Wu, I too love caf bookstores. But I never read materials at length unless I intend to buy them, and I take my messier coffee breaks sans literature so I don't soil books that someone else might want to enjoy.

For our sake, I hope bookstores remain liberal, and that the gluttonous few don't spoil things for us bona fide book lovers. Kelly Thacher, Kissimmee, Fla.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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