Example in kind: In one particular 2004 case I found, that for "Jane Doe," listed among her Chapter 7, petitioned-to-be-discharged (PTBD) debts, were entries for a $50 medical bill from 1985, a $50 telephone bill from 1999, and a $50 telephone bill from 2000.
Curiously enough: Also among her PTBD debts was a $250 bill from 2003 for the Barbie Book Club, as well as a $250 bill and a $400 bill from the Scholastic Book Club.
Still more curiously: Listed among her items for "current monthly expenses" were a $300 cell-phone bill and $75 for entertainment. See where I'm going with this?
Signing up for kids' book clubs and high-expense cell-phone plans when you already owe money for bills that are years overdue is crap. And this wasn't the only instance I found of behavior like this; it just happens to be the one I can remember most easily at this moment.
Amazing what you can find in court documents.
Not that the current bankruptcy reform bill would do anything about a situation like this (given Jane Doe's listed current income, I cannot imagine that it would), but it is a start. If people cannot exhibit personal responsibility on their own, perhaps tougher bankruptcy laws are the way to go.
Far be it from me to show any compassion for credit-card companies and other lenders, but still — the quicker the U.S. bankruptcy system is revamped, the better.