Bankruptcy vultures scavenge from coal communities

From the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

“Two hundred, seventy-four million dollars! Yet, retired union coal miners had to fight down to the wire to preserve their pensions and health care. Coalfield clinics, pharmacies, therapists, hospitals and other health care providers are dealing with decreasing revenue and are struggling to stay open. Indeed, many have closed their doors, slashing health care access for everyone.

“Two hundred, seventy-four million dollars! Yet, coal communities affected by bankruptcies are seeing tax revenue dry up. They cannot pay for local police forces, deputy sheriffs, firefighters, EMT’s and more. Their infrastructure is crumbling, and they do not have the resources to do anything about it.

“Bankrupt coal companies often pay legal fees that can run up to $1,800 per hour. I ask you: Who is worth $1,800 an hour? That’s about 58 times what a coal miner earns. I can make a good argument that what the coal miner produces is much more valuable to America than what a bankruptcy lawyer produces.

“Let’s face it, America’s bankruptcy system is a scam. It’s rigged to siphon off millions of dollars from working-class communities and send it to Wall Street. And just what is it that these lawyers and financial advisers are providing?

“The American bankruptcy process is straightforward. The steps are clear and bankruptcy courts’ decisions almost always follow the same rules, no matter where that court is located:

First, workers and retirees get nothing.

Next, vendors get a little, but not nearly all they are owed.

That is exactly how it works. The workers and retirees get nothing and the lawyers and advisers always get paid. They have been running this scam especially hard in the coalfields lately.

Next, the bankrupt company’s executives split up a wealth of bonuses.

Next, the lenders get most of their money back.

And last, a company cannot emerge from bankruptcy until it gets more loans, called exit financing, which ensures the lawyers and advisers get paid.

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