Cost For Bankruptcy? Bankruptcy Lawyers’ High $1,000-Per-Hour Fees Versus AIG High Bonuses – Outrage

What is the cost for bankruptcy today? Is there cheap bankruptcy for American debtors? Any low cost bankruptcy in affordable range? Today, as Americans are rightly outraged over the AIG Bonus and Excessive Corporate Compensation issue, the American Bankruptcy Lawyers’ show no hint of showing responsibility or sacrifice as they reportedly continue to demand and collect $1,000-per-hour fees for corporate bankruptcy work!

With the hard economic times and high unemployment in the nation, and many Americans, individuals as well as businesses, increasingly hurting, the central economic issue for many Americans is cost for bankruptcy, a sacred right conferred by the Constitution. Do we all, perhaps, have to “Go to Law School” in order to make out well as debtors and consumers in the current Economy?

Reacting to the bankruptcy lawyers’ charge of $1,110-per-hour fee in a Chicago case liquidating the then giant United Airlines, one outraged Chicago reporter, Knight Ridder, dished out this advice to the workers who lost their jobs in the bankrupt airline: “in your next lives, go to law school.” (“UAL’s Bankruptcy Lawyers Document a Feast of Fees,” Tribune News, March 5, 2003).

Bankruptcy has recently been called “America’s [current] growth industry” by the British Times newspaper. At a time in which almost every other industry in the United States, in deed in the whole industrialized world, is experiencing massive economic burst and employment lay offs, the British paper noted, American “Lawyers who specialize in representing failed businesses are a hot commodity.” (See Citation 1 below at the end of this article). That may be great for the bankruptcy lawyers’ pocket book. But what about the rest of America, particularly if you’re so hard pressed that you have to file for bankruptcy? How much will it cost for bankruptcy? low-cost bankruptcy

One American bankruptcy lawyer, Jason Kilborn, wrote in a CreditSlips.com piece characterizing the English newspaper report as “U.S.-bankruptcy-lawyer envy” by the British lawyers which, he said, “is doubly powerful, as even bankruptcy lawyers there are not as high-profile as in the U.S.” He noted, however, that even “here in the U.S. lawyers in other areas [of legal practice] must be eyeeing their bankruptcy counterparts with envy, as our sector enjoys (if we can use that word without multi-directional guilt!) rapid growth while other areas are contracting,” concluding by appealing to his fellow American bankruptcy lawyers to “let us U.S. bankruptcy lawyers try not to be too smug (for the humor impaired, yes, this is a little joke!)” about their unique standing as a virtual lone professional ‘growth industry’ in the midst of economic wreckage and devastation in the nation and the world.

In point of fact, Mr. Kilborn and his fellow American bankruptcy lawyers actually have pretty plenty to be apologetic for to the American people, and a lot of explaining yet to do. “Corporate greed” for the AIG and Wall Street executives, right? What about “bankruptcy lawyers greed”? Or the bankruptcy lawyers’ excessive selfishness, opportunism and lack of sacrifice, for such remarkable conduct that this legal specialty has so amazingly displayed as major professional players in the current American economic crises! Not the least of these being that, to date, the legal profession are yet to provide legitimate low-cost alternative bankruptcy filing system to the lawyers’ high cost bankruptcy system, and a system that brings bankruptcy on the cheap to debtors and readily within their reach.

Somewhat remarkably, it’s something that has somehow managed to escape the general public or media scrutiny, or even attention, that it clearly ought to attract. One of the most recent cases frequently cited by experts in such discussions, relates to the lawyers’ liquidation work on the now bankrupt airline giant, the United Air Lines. This is the case involving the UAL’s Chicago-based outside law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, that is reportedly the first case that “broke through the $1,000-an-hour barrier” in legal fees, as its charge in that case was an hourly fee of $1,110 to liquidate the UAL in bankruptcy.

It was a fee whose magnitude prompted another reporter in a more recent bankruptcy case, to call the fee of $950 per hour charged by the New York law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges in the largest American bankruptcy case in history, the Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc case, to “look cut-rate and a mere” paltry sum. Recent reports about exorbitant bonuses taken or planned by the executives of wealthy but troubled institutions like the Lehman Brothers, the AIG, the automobile companies and others, has sparked a gradual groundswell of political and public outrage and condemnation across America about excessive lifestyle by corporations, and exorbitant compensation and “corporate greed” by business executives. (See Citation 2 below).

But where has similar outrage been by the Washington and local politicians and the public – or the reportage about it by the media – against the outrageous $1,000-plus-an-hour fees charged by bankruptcy lawyers in corporate bankruptcy work? Or, a similar outrage against the equally outrageous average fee of $2,000 to $2,500 that lawyers charge struggling debtors in the simplest types of Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy cases?

President Barack Obama has publicly called such conduct ‘shameful.’ And, since the latest story broke public condemnation, with well-publicized public demonstrations and protests at AIG offices and the homes of most recently about the attempt of the AIG executives to parcel out fat bonuses of some $160 million or so to their workers, prominent American politicians, from President Barack Obama to members of Congress, Democrats as well as Republicans, have taken turns to rush before the camera and to the airwaves to denounce and condemn the “corporate greed and thievery” of America’s business executives and institutions in high places. And even the general public have joined the parade of its executives in Connecticut. A common refrain by the protesters and persons who condemn such predatory conduct as to what particularly enrages, is that it is simply outrageous and intolerable for persons or institutions in positions of privilege or advantage to “exploit the misery” of Americans in vulnerable situations who are unable to meet their routine financial obligations in the current depressed economic conditions (e.g., landlords against tenants, mortgage lenders against home buyers, and the like), and live lives of opulence or extravagance even as the poorer and less fortunate Americans are mired in suffering and hardship.

That’s all fine and proper, and very much welcome. But, a central question: IN THE INTEREST OF AMERICAN FAIRNESS, EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND EQUAL TIME, WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE AND PROTEST FOR A SIMILAR CONDUCT BY THE BANKRUPTCY LAWYERS IN AMERICA? Where is some bankruptcy on the cheap for cash strapped American debtors?

For most Americas seeking bankruptcy, the crucial impediment is cost for bankruptcy. How much will it cost for bankruptcy. Yet, in terms of personal bankruptcy of the Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 types, for example, which are the bankruptcy domain in which primarily you find the poorer and the less privileged and more voiceless classes of the society, it has been estimated by experts that at least the same 1.1 million or so debtors in number who filed bankruptcy in 2008, additionally wish to file for bankruptcy, but fail to do so merely because they’re not able for afford the legal fees required for filing one. Putting it very simply, these are, in effect, Americans who are deprived, each year, of filing for bankruptcy – to legitimately exercise a special constitutional right of citizenship – to relieve themselves of their debt burden. And why? Primarily because of, and out of, the financial greed and selfishness of the personal bankruptcy lawyers. No less than the AIG executives and corporate executives who are, and quite understandably so, the recipients of the outrage and condemnation of the politicians and the public today.

We may, perhaps, have come to the time when the American people will have to demand and insist, under the threat, perhaps, of public protests and demonstrations, that, particularly in the current economic crisis, the legal fees charged by the nation’s bankruptcy lawyers for personal as well as corporate bankruptcy, be drastically brought down and capped – just like the famous Wall Street executives and others for whom such a policy has been advocated by President Obama and several members of Congress. Or, at the very least, the President, the members of Congress and the American public – as well as the media – should begin publicly to call attention to, and point a finger of shame and condemnation at, the bankruptcy lawyers. In either case, it will require a visibly enraged class of debtors, the American general public, and even creditors, and a sensitive but courageous class of politicians truly sensitive about the role of such exorbitant legal fees by bankruptcy lawyers in further compounding and worsening the already deep economic hurt of the debt-burdened Americans and American companies already swimming in deep, deep debt burdens in the current economic recession.

1. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article5877016.ece
2. http://money.aol.com/news/articles/_a/bbdp/activists-protest-at-aig-execs-homes/391938

Hillary and the Inquisitor

“Mrs Clinton, we are aware that as a candidate to the Presidency you have shown a great deal of composure and assurance before the probing questions of a number of panels, television hosts, press conferences and those ad hoc conferences on the way to the elevators, the bar or the relief habitats. How did you develop such talent?’

“The hard way. In this business you are liable to run into all kind of inquisitors some of whom search for the way to make you contradict yourself, disguise the truth of a given situation or evade the questions as best you can. Disraeli said that official inquiries are like visits to the dentist; either you bite the hand that tortures you or you lose the tooth!”

“Any special incidents?”

“As a matter of fact I was just thinking about one of the first grillings I had. I was questioned by a Senator known for his dislike of my party, our ideology, our history and my person. It appeared like a personal form of some imaginary revenge or perhaps some atavistic hatred. Let me recount the incident.

“The first few minutes of the session were enough to unnerve a school bus. For a moment there, the Inquisitor looked as if he would scream the moment I sat down in front of him. He had raised a copy of the Constitution in his right hand and with his left index finger pointed at it with vehemence. But he did not say a word. Instead, he looked at me, who had taken pains to dress tastefully and, I hoped, appeared relaxed and not in the least nervous or apprehensive. His look was a mixture of hatred and, somehow, a tiny glimmer of envy. I realized that my dress was a stunning, yet sober creation that was elegant and solemn. He almost forgot that I was a witness in a national inquiry.

At last, he came out of his momentary lapse and putting the Constitution down, said:

“Now, we have irrefutable evidence that during your last year in High School, you placed no less than 8 pieces of chewed gum under your desk. This offense has not been discovered until recently thanks to the untiring work of our trained investigators. You realize that defacing government property is a federal offense. Further, I feel that your silence all these years has probably been its own punishment, by keeping this onerous offense locked in your heart, if you happen to have one. . .”

I looked at the Inquisitor squarely in the eye and replied in my well modulated voice, enhanced with a slight trace of a Midwestern accent:

“If I recall correctly, there were 9 pieces of regular Spearmint Wrigley’s Chewing Gum, 5 Adams, 2 Bubble gums and one piece of anchovy that had stuck to my braces. Your Inquisitors do not seem very proficient. They also missed the traffic ticket I never paid when I was vacationing in Millinocket in Maine in 1968. That was August 19 at about 6 P.M., your Honor. Or should I call you your Blessed and Exalted Excellency?”

“Sarcasm will get you nowhere. Now, what about the files?”

“What files?”

“The ones that turned up at your family quarters in the White House”

“Sir, when we moved form Arkansas to Washington, we packed 165 boxes with books, records, pictures, Oxford awards, Rhodes certificates, photo albums, old letters, hand written copies of my husband’s letters to girlfriends of his, and a complete music sheet library of popular tunes for saxophone and claves. From my office, we shipped 92 boxes with files, old bills, last wills, college thesis, legal briefs, yellow pads, pencils and green leather pillows. We put all the boxes in Vice President Quayle’s office, which is now the laundry room, and began taking some upstairs as the need arose.”

“Like what?”

“Well, the saxophone sheet music for one. My husband helps my mood by blowing a couple of old romantic tunes once in a while, you know. . “

“How about the files from your legal days?”

“Same thing. My secretary brings up a box occasionally when looking for old correspondence and records. Most people keep old boxes in the attic and once in a while get a box down when they look for something. The only difference is that we use an ex-Vice President’s office instead of an attic and bring boxes to rooms that were once occupied by Washington, Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman and Carter.”

The Senator’s eyes lit up. He leaned forward and in his usual aggressive tone concluded:

“Ah! You admit moving the boxes! Just what I thought! It is clear to this investigating committee that you have been guilty of tampering and concealment of evidence. . .”

I had no recourse other assuming a serious tone when I replied before he had finished the question:

“Your Exalted Honor, or whatever, first of all this is not a trial. It is more like a voluntary deposition and my appearance here answers to Article 23, Paragraph 51 of section 122 of Chapter 9 of the Derivative Amplified Legal Introspection code of 1932. You are certainly familiar also with the protection afforded me by several legal precedents such as the Timmons versus State of Idaho in 1912, the famous Pickering and Barton case against the Caspian Society of Irvine, California and the well publicized decision involving Garcia Pacheco Morales and the San Bernardino City Council. Any questions?”

The Inquisitor heard every word but his mind was elsewhere. He kept looking at me with a great deal of interest. I know that the dress gave me unique poise and elegance. It was clear to me that it made him wonder how it would look on him. His mood changed and he smiled to himself. But this time it was a soft look, full of admiration and maybe even envy. There was the usual dramatic silent interlude before he asked:

“Where did you buy that dress?”

THE END

astrous@comcast.net

A Look at the Human Condition

One of the most controversial and predictable elements of Western society is our relationship with money, prestige and power, to the point they are intermingled concepts that make the fabric of human behavior.

The great extent to which individuals are capable to stretch their moral concepts, if they have them; or the total obliteration of them, if they don’t, has been the fodder or countless literary pieces that depict them well, to the point where the basic notions of character, integrity and values are now routinely mishandled for the sake of greed, profit and questionable financial gain.

This is particularly applicable to the activities associated with real estate where attorneys have a profitable source of business derived from the constant conflict between brokers, buyers and sellers, among which the theory of procuring cause of sale has a legal treatment of its own and probably it’s the most mishandled or perhaps misunderstood of all conceptions applicable to real estate law. The best of friends overnight become enemies accusing each other of interfering with the other’s pockets and all is permissible if one party believes they have the right to another’s well-earned commission. Surely, this constant state of negative awareness doesn’t do much for a healthy set of values of the individuals engaged in the endeavor of real estate procurement. Obviously, the immoral or amoral associated with traits of this type of misguided behavior applies to every segment of human endeavor from servant to gentile through the most varied walks of life, realty buyer’s and seller’s brokers being but an example of the victims of this obnoxious universe. And don’t be mistaken we have enough of these specimens in our midst. Consequently, instead of the timeless cliché caveat emptor, we should now use caveat amicus – beware of the friend, expression more in line with the times.

It’s a well-known fact, clearly shown by statistics and sociological studies that the concept of money is the foremost element that pares humans against each other causing suffering and frustration, even on a higher scale that terminal disease or divorce.

The fact humans have changed their relationship with money represents a new case study for behavior and economics that developed into a new science to help us understand how has the human psyche changed from bartering and exchange for survival and wealth creation into a fiat paper money dependency that is both a tragedy and a disease; this dependency can only suggest that in our brains we are still fighting the enormous vulnerability and consequences of poverty imprinted in genes since primordial times depending on warlords and prophets and our unconscious defense against it, which is the hoarding of money, gold, sheep or whatever was the parameter of wealth in the different stages of human civilization. This situation in due course reflected into independence, power and domination of our peers. All this fear originates from anger, lack of authority over our lives, prestige and respect by our equals, which is a reassuring tool in the survivalist jungle, and finally to be crowned by the ability to control relationships based on the so-called ‘dominance position’ that wealth carries.

Why Cain assassinated his brother? Envy because he did not have the consideration by God Abel had? Was it envy, and fear? Envy, fear, lack of a clear destiny and wealth, as his brother seemed to be a better farmer, a wealthier dweller and worker of the land? Envy is alone the strongest human emotion besides love and hate and its consequences well documented throughout man’s history. This brings us to reason that for the sake of either having an advantage, for revenge at being disadvantaged or simply obeying the typical genetic primeval need of having someone else’s possessions, a member of the humans species is capable of abhorrent conduct. The sages of old understood this flaw well, thus justifying the concepts transcribed in the Ten Commandments as a divine rule.

To most, money is not only an addictive, but also a seductive trait. The one that doesn’t have it yearns for it while the one that does, wants ever more. Implicating that money is not only a means to obtain material things, but a drug that can intoxicate the mind bringing the concept of the miserliness of Scrooge to a serious analysis in terms of value, as to the Dickens’s character whose wealth left the miser with never enough. What he had, he refused to spend and when enough is never reached, especially in terms of wealth, the senses obliterate as nothing will be a stopper to achieve the status of always more. If this unhealthy and misguided relationship with money is inherent to human behavior and not simply a cultural mishap, sad are the days before human civilization and our expected age of achievement.

Christians, Witchcraft and Drugs

What would you think if the next time you take the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion) a drug is offered to you instead of bread? “Crazy,” you say?

No faithful Christian would knowingly replace bread (which represents the Body of Jesus) with a drug. And yet, this is what is happening millions of times everyday. Many Christians routinely taking drugs forget the sacrifice Jesus made in body on their behalf for healing.

Keep your eyes on the pill:

What is it about man’s fascination with drugs that holds such sway over the Body of Christ? Why do so many Christians trust a pill over God with their body? Well, a lot of it has to do with the original King James (KJ) Bible translators.

During the time when the KJ Bible was first being translated, witches and witchcraft occupied the minds of many Church leaders. Hundreds of people were tried and executed for being a witch. So when Bible translators came to the Greek word “pharmakeia” in the New Testament, they choose to use the lesser meaning of the word, “witchcraft,” instead of the word’s primary meaning, “use of drugs.”

At the time of translation back in 1611, using the word “witchcraft” must have made sense. Witches created and used drugs and potions made from plants, animals and earth. So the word, witchcraft, fit the times and translators wanted to make that point. After all, the Bible condemns witchcraft (Exodus 22:18).

That’s all well and good except that: When we read about the “acts of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19-21 today, no mention is made of using drugs, only of witchcraft. Here’s how KJ translators translated the passage:

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21) King James Bible

Now compare that same passage transliterated from the Greek text in the Heritage Bible and notice how different it reads:

“And the works of the flesh are manifest, which are: Adultery, sexual promiscuity, uncleanness, lack of moral restraint, Idolatry, use of drugs, hatred, quarreling, jealousies, hard breathing, strife, dissensions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, carousings, and the such like, which I tell you before, as I also said previously, that those practicing such things will absolutely not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21) Heritage Bible

There it is: “Use of drugs.” There is absolutely nothing mentioned about witchcraft, because the original Greek word primary meaning means use of drugs. It’s not until you get into a secondary meaning where you then will find witchcraft and sorcery.

Houston, we have a problem:

Christians today are faced with the same problem Bible translators had back in 1611, only in reverse. Witchcraft is not the issue of the day, drugs are.

The medical, industrial and agricultural drug industry today dominates our lives. Drug use is so prevalent, drug traces show up in our food and water supply, and even threatens extinction of certain plants, animals and marine life. But that problem only touches the hem of the garment. The real problem lies in the human death toll created directly through legally prescribed drug consumption.

Witches do not cause this problem. The problem is caused by a giant industry that wants every man, woman and child hooked on their product: Drugs! In fact, the Bible warns of this very thing happening: Here is how the Heritage Bible interprets the Book of Revelation, 18:23

“And the light of a lamp will absolutely not shine in you any more, and the voice of the bride-groom and of the bride will absolutely not be heard in you any more, because your merchants were the great ones of the earth, because in your spell inducing drugs all the races were led astray.” (Revelation 18:23) Heritage Bible

For a generation of Christians who grew up with prescription drug proliferation and a trusted medical industry that heavily pushes them, drugs seem normal and acceptable. This generation of Christians believes the big lie that “drugs are good for you.”

It is inconceivable to this group of Christians that taking legally prescribed drugs on a daily basis is an act of the flesh. They reason that medical drugs are an invention of modern man, and that God would certainly not condemn drugs for medicinal purposes. But they have only the lie they believe to stand on, nothing in Scripture to support their belief that God condones the use of drugs.

Because their Church teaches them nothing about God’s natural laws or of the healing power found in the Body of Jesus Christ, millions of Christians have turned to the world for healing. It’s sad, but they do so without God.

Without an accurate translation of God’s Word to guide them, millions of God-loving people have been led astray. They have been seduced by the world into reliance on drugs instead of relying on God’s natural law (found in the Bible) and the Body of Jesus Christ for healing.

Without realization, many Christians have replaced the bread of communion with that of a drug. And for many: Drugs have become a religion, which places trust in the world over that of God’s Word.

Imagine how different our faith would be today had the KJ Bible translated pharmakeia as “use of drugs” instead of “witchcraft.” Almost all of Christendom knows and uses the KJ Bible. Some regard the KJ Bible as the only authorized translation and use no other Bible. So how are these people to know God condemns the practice of routinely using drugs? They will not.

The truth is: God is our healer! That declaration removes all other possibilities. God has provided for our every need found in the plant kingdom and through Jesus Christ. Those who look elsewhere will find only suffering and death.

If this truth leaves you struggling, you have been victimized by the prince of this world. My prayer is that you turn away from the false reality of drugs, and turn to God’s Word for truth and healing.