Tuesday, March 15, 2005

On The Rhetoric of Representatives

It's frequently said that representatives and senators must represent their constituents. But, less is said about how constituents are represented by their representatives and senators. How do these people talk about us in the House and Senate? What got me wondering was a statement made by Senator Bill Frist during the Bankruptcy Reform Bill debates:
It’s fitting that as a Senator from Tennessee I am talking about this issue. As it happens, the city of Memphis in my home state has become to be known as the “Bankruptcy Capital of America.” Memphis ranks number one in personal bankruptcy filings compared with 331 other major metropolitan areas. The total personal bankruptcy filing rate in Memphis in 2004 was roughly 26 people per 1000 residents – well over three times the national average.

Bankruptcy has become so common it has largely lost its stigma. It’s seen as just another method to get out of debt. Some folks have even been known to plan their bankruptcy. They buy a house, a car, furniture and whatever else they need, and then file a bankruptcy form. They figure they can get the big ticket items up front and for everything else use cash.

It’s not altogether an accident that the Memphis bankruptcy system is what one attorney calls a “well oiled machine.” It was Memphis’s very own US Representative Walter Chandler who established a chapter of bankruptcy law with the 1938 Chandler Act.
The gentleman from Tennessee seems to come down pretty harshly on Tennessee and airs a lot of dirty laundry. Is this just a senator using his unique knowledge and authority as a Tennessee senator to make a point, or, is he being too much a Majority Leader and too little a representative of his home state? I don't know, but it makes me wonder how my own Senators are talking about me and my state.


Post a Comment

<< Home