Bankruptcy Rags to Riches Story Produces Socratic Irony

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A woman in Michigan who won a million dollar lottery back in October of last year has come under national scrutiny for taking state public assistance through the New Year and beyond, according to various online news services. This bankruptcy rags to riches story produces a Socratic irony when it comes to the world of bankruptcy.

Amanda Clayton of Detroit, Michigan, the alleged winner of the million dollars, was quoted by one news source as having boasted about her situation to a local TV station. The officials soon “swooped in” to stop the payments after learning about Clayton’s small fortune. One million dollars in lottery winnings translates to a little over $500,000 after a cash payout and taxes are included.

According to the news stories, Clayton was unemployed and receiving public assistance when her good fortune of winning the lottery happened. Being unemployed without the ability to pay living expenses is usually a good indicator that person is a sure fire candidate for bankruptcy.

Clayton publicly rationalized that since she was still unemployed, had ongoing bills to pay, and the assistance program had not cut her off, she did not think there was any problem with her keeping the $200 per month. She said, “I feel that it’s okay because I mean, I have no income and I have bills to pay. I have two houses.” She recently purchased a new home with the money she won.

But according to one news source, “the Department of Human Services (DHS) in Michigan said Wednesday that the woman was no longer receiving benefits and warned that people who continued to receive handouts in such circumstances may face criminal investigation and be required to pay back those benefits.” Under DHS policies in Michigan, “a recipient of food assistance benefits must notify the state within 10 days of any asset or income change.”

Whether or not Clayton ends up getting in trouble with her lack of understanding how the assistance program should work remains to be seen. It just seems like such Socratic irony a person who was once considered in bankruptcy to assume her new found wealth entitles her to assistance from the old life style.

This irony plays out even further in how outsiders have viewed Clayton’s new found wealth. Many across the country are outraged at what she assumed to be true. Some have even gone so far as to cry out for legislative action that would force the Lotto Commission in Michigan to inform state assistance programs to be notified when a person wins the lotto.

Most people are not so fortunate to win a lotto, and many of these same people are forced to file bankruptcy in order to get a fresh financial start. After filing, some are degraded and hounded by opinions of others that have been much more financially fortunate.

The greatest irony in such a bankruptcy rags to riches story is that the feeling of entitlement portrayed by Clayton might come to be associated with those who are forced into bankruptcy protection. Both demonstrate two different ways of gaining a financial fresh new start, and this case, both may be receive condemnation for their acts.

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