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Bankruptcy relief for many consumers may be around the corner

The middle class economic struggle seems to be worsening throughout the country, including here in Arkansas. More and more people are confronting deep financial frustration as they try to find ways out of the morass. The fact is that it is not easy to pay for excess medical bills, accumulated student loans, high-interest credit card debt and for all of the trappings of American life on hourly wages of $10 or even $15 per hour. That shows how difficult it must be for those who earn even less, and it portends a future where consumer bankruptcy will once again be the only viable choice for people who need meaningful relief.

There is a convergence of factors at this time in our economic history. Medical insurance, if one is able to afford it, does not cover all of a person's medical expenses. High deductibles and maximum benefit amounts are sending people into a frenzy of frustration. When they use credit cards to pay the medical bill balances, they become strapped with interest rates that in any other world would be called usurious.

Student loans could at one time be discharged in bankruptcy, but members of the U.S. Congress took that right away. Sadly, the cost-of-living has skyrocketed out of control for all except the wealthiest people. The sacrifices and losses of the recession have not yet been wiped out in a way that gives substantive relief to most Americans.

Bankruptcy relief in the federal courts of Arkansas or other jurisdictions remains a crucial option for relief. When people reach a point of no return on their financial obligations, no payment counselors or debt consolidation firms are going to be able to offer them workable relief. It is at that point that the government provides a needed remedy that still has the force to restore self-dignity to perhaps millions of Americans caught in the oppressive economic cycle in today's world.                                                                                          

Source: slate.com, "Ask the Bills: My life is a money-sucking vortex. How do I get out?", Helaine Olen, July 27, 2016

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