In the News

David Callahan, author of "The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead," chronicles rising numbers of people - not just in business - willing to cheat on their taxes, embellish resumes or lie to their auto insurance company about a claim.
"Americans who wouldn't so much as shoplift a pack of chewing gum are committing felonies at tax time, betraying the trust of their patients, misleading investors, ripping off their insurance company or lying to their clients," Callahan writes.
"It's a shameful sign of our times," said David Callahan, research director at the public policy group Demos in New York, and Tim Doyle, director in government affairs for the Mortgage Bankers Association. "This is just another area in American life where a boom, with all its money to be made, brought out the worst in us," Callahan said.
Like the Carmans, more seniors are heading into retirement still paying down mortgages or taking out home-equity loans.
For Americans buried under a mound of debt, getting a new start will be more difficult under a bankruptcy reform bill that President Bush is expected to sign by next week.
Public policy research group Demos says that increased filings are caused not by irresponsible consumerism but by a stagnant economy. Families turn to credit to make ends meet temporarily, said Tamara Draut, director of Demos' economic opportunity program.
"This is just another area in American life where a boom, with all its money to be made, brought out the worst in us," said Callahan. "The carrots for cheating are getting bigger, and even though the sticks are hitting harder, our watchdogs are asleep, so it's easy to get away with things."
Demos issued a report warning that conflicts of interest pervade the home loan trade, where inflated property values have delivered handsome benefits to lenders and realty agents, leaving homeowners to discover their dearth of equity.
The average credit card debt among Americans over age 65 nearly doubled between 1992 and 2001, to more than $4,000, according to a 2004 report by Demos, a public policy group in New York.
Facing high medical costs and daunting expenses, more retirees are filing for personal bankruptcy.
We are told it's about responsibility. Not theirs, ours. That's why this week the House is likely to approve the bankruptcy reform bill, a sloppy wet kiss to the credit card industry, which has been backing the measure for almost a decade. President Bush has promised a warm embrace when the bill reaches his desk.
Older Americans' Debts Mounting as They Reach Retirement Age
The average debt of Americans 65 and older has jumped nearly 90 percent over the past decade to more than $4,000, and those aged 50 to 64 have seen their average debt double to the same amount, according to research by Demos, a New York-based think tank.
While bill sponsor Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) claims that the recent growth of bankruptcies is due to "irresponsible consumerism," Tamara Draut of the economic policy group Demos disagrees.
Recently, Demos: A Network for Ideas and Action, released a study contradicting the assumptions of this bill's proponents. The Demos study showed how the amount of credit card debt per person has risen in the last 10 years. The study also showed how the increase in senior citizens filing for bankruptcy has been the greatest of any age group over the years.
Instead, by pressing legislation that is unbalanced and tilted toward specific special interest groups, the proponents of S.