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Tuesday, October 15, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Letters to the editor

Fractured finances

The trickle-down effect of evading personal debt leaves business wrung out

Editor, The Times:

As I read "Steeped in debt: Good times end, spending doesn't" (Times Business & Technology, A1, Oct. 13) with interest that turned to disgust, it is appalling that so many people believe that filing for bankruptcy is the answer. There is so little regard for the businesses and their employees who are left holding the bag when these people don't pay their debts.

My employer was stuck holding hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt due to a debtor who filed for bankruptcy. Did this affect and hurt our firm's financial situation? You bet! Tamara Chomenko-Cicero "has little patience with those who would criticize her for getting into such a mess," but what of the mess she's created for others by just skipping out on her debts? Those businesses aren't owed for their goods and services she used and consumed?

It's difficult to have sympathy for someone driving a BMW and having the $255-coifed hair, living beyond their income. Personal responsibility seems to have gone out the window.

Where can the rest of us sign up for the "Drive a BMW without paying for it plan"?

Lissa Stephens, Seattle

The old-fashioned way

Notwithstanding Tamara Chomenko-Cicero's lack of patience with criticism, I've been in her position, of losing my job and suffering the consequences. I still have little sympathy for her and the others in your story. They all seem to have been riding high and were terribly shocked when they lost their jobs. Worse is that they seem to be very, very bad money managers with little or nor concern for putting money away for a drought.

Fortunately for us, my wife paid double house payments when we were both working. I lost my job after 28 years with the company; shortly thereafter, my wife lost her job of 17 years. We were both in our 50s. I can tell you, it is near impossible to get the same income unless you are an in-demand executive or have an exceptional skill. We have survived on interest/investments and Social Security. I am thankful my wife had foresight to pay our bills in full when they came.

These people who run up credit-card totals into the thousands are not just foolish, they are stupid. We drive an 11-year-old Camry that we bought new and take care of. We never owned a "Beamer" (BMW) nor any other upscale car. We didn't take a lot of expensive vacations nor bought cell phones, SUVs, etc. We are not well off, but we can travel to visit our children in other states and visit my wife's family overseas once a year. We paid all of our children's college costs. We don't expect anything in return except a thank-you. We hope our two (not three, four, five or six) kids just do better than we have.

I get a little tired of people whining about college costs, living costs, and how bad it is to suffer from the shock of losing a job, especially the high-tech people. Live and learn like the rest of us.

Karl Wahl, Bellevue

Leave home without it

People don't want to talk about debt because they've been seduced by the credit-card companies into a lifestyle they can't afford. (They) ought to get angry and organize. These credit-card companies are legalized bloodsuckers, depending on people not to raise a ruckus.

The credit-card companies say "responsible people will pay their bills... " which is their way of distracting reporters from the credit-card companies' bottom line, which is to keep a steady minimum-payment drip coming from the wallets of millions of people.

People don't want to talk about their debt problems because of the contempt they will feel from neighbors. The BMW lady is a good candidate, isn't she? But even the easy critique of her, with the fancy car and self-absorbed facial crowd, prevents a more nuanced reporting on the political infrastructure Visa and Mastercard have built to sustain their businesses.

Who gets how much from each of the big banks to maintain the status quo?

If you wrote about that, I wonder what you'd Discover?

Timothy Colman, Seattle

Murder in a small town

What to tell the kids

Perhaps I am naïve in still believing that people should take chances in order to help another person in need. Obviously, the death of Rachel Burkheimer is a horrible tragedy, and I feel great sorrow for her family and friends. But I also feel a great deal of anger over the missed opportunities to prevent the murder from happening ("Witness in Burkheimer case: Fear kept me from calling cops," Local News, Oct. 9).

The girlfriend of one of the murder suspects, who came home and found Rachel bound and gagged in her garage, saw the black duffel bag being carried to the SUV and heard muffled sounds coming from the bag, could have likely prevented the murder. She had plenty of time to call 911.

She said she feared for the safety of herself and her daughter, but I have two small children of my own, and in the same situation, I believe I would have called 911, because I would've had a much harder time explaining to my kids why I didn't do something to stop it.

Lance Thomas, Bothell

Someone else's daughter

I hope that Trissa Connor's statement — "I know I should have called sooner, but I have a daughter I have to think about. I didn't want to put her or me in harm's way" — is enough to keep her from feeling bad. Not!

How hard could it really have been to take her daughter to a neighbor's house to make a 30-second telephone call? How about thinking about the fact that Rachel Burkheimer was someone's daughter, too? Shame on Connor for her selfishness!

If having children makes one as morally empty and uncaring about others as that, I thank God I never had children.

Ruth Gabriel, Seattle

A night at the opera

Tickets in return

Thank you for the excellent article, "Sour note sounds at McCaw Hall" (Local News, Oct. 10). With the city of Seattle currently cutting much-needed basic and emergency services in order to balance its budget, it is outrageous that Mayor Greg Nickels is seriously considering a loan (which may not be able to be repaid) to the McCaw Hall Opera House project. Where are our priorities?

Perhaps if the city chooses to go ahead with this questionable loan, free or "pay-as-you-can" McCaw Hall performances could regularly be offered to people who have never been able to afford to attend the opera. Other theatre companies in town are able to offer this option each month.

Lisa Papp, Seattle

Captain's Log

Spock's brain, Paul's crane

Was it total coincidence or by design that the front page of Saturday's Local News section included the headlines "Snubbed Nimoy to speak in Seattle after all" and "Vulcan starts to demolish building"? Or... ahem... were you trying "To go where no Local News section has gone before"?

Thanks for the journey back in time.

Timothy Neil Allen, Seattle

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