Resistance Begins at Ohm!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bad banks, or bad attitude?

I remain astounded that a groundswell of public angst would arise because BoA decided to add a $5 fee for using your debit card. I mean, you DO use it, and it is a cost to the bank, duh. Every transaction requires a series of actions from crediting the merchant to debiting your account and all of the banks changing money in between. You don't work for free, why should they? So, why do people think that it should be free? It wasn't free before, someone else was paying for it -- merchants.
This is the essential problem with entitlement society. It isn't what people do or don't do that leads them to some expectation. It is what everyone else does or doesn't do that is viewed through the lens of personal desire. I want it, you aren't giving it to me, therefore you are a bad actor.
When did this change-up occur? More importantly, how do we undo it?

Take the bank situation again. People have choices, they don't need to use BoA. It isn't particularly convenient to change banks, but the banks have no obligation to provide you the same service (or more service) at the same cost for your lifetime. If you don't like it, act like a capitalist, like a free American and take your business somewhere else!

We removed a primary source of compensation for the use of those debit cards through a stupid law designed to protect the interests (pocketbooks) of business. Not like 20 cents a swipe is going to lead to any employment. Congress was just mad (because you are mad) and took it out on banks. Is a predictable consequence and unintended consequence? Or just stupid behavior? What on earth did congress think banks were going to do, operate at a loss??? I actually don't have a problem with it because it puts the cost burden back on the party that is causing it in the first place.

Now, if you want to get mad, get mad about this: credit card interest rates. The government interest rate on bank borrowing is virtually zero, meaning that as long as a bank has sufficient capital, they can borrow from the fed for zero and loan it to you for -- 30%!?!??!!!???? And if you act like a responsible person and pay off the bill every month, then they are going to charge you a monthly fee of -- $12??!!???? And you are still bitching about $5 for a debit card? OMG, be glad you have money in the bank.

I don't have a fundamental problem with people protesting or with people being mad about the way the money institutions have treated American citizens throughout this crisis. I just have a problem that people are complaining about something so stupid that they look like petty whiners and like they are too dumb to see the real problems. I mean, if you happen to be living hand to mouth, with a $10K credit card balance as a result of increased gas, energy and food prices over the last 30 months and then the bank decides to jack up your interest rate by 10%, really where are you going to take that business? Most people do not have credit card companies begging for their business anymore. (Why should they with that kind of interest rate and a captive consumer?)

Seems to me it comes down to this: irresponsible government encouraged/allowed irresponsible citizens to rack up irresponsible debt based on home equity. Equity is not real money. Then irresponsible government looked the other way while banks covered their butts with credit swaps. When the housing market crashed (which I still say is a direct consequence of increased energy costs that jacked up the price of everything else but housing), the banks lost. So, they can only loose so much and then they are out of business -- failed banks which the government then has to cover for personal assets -- the money you have in your account that you withdraw with that debit card. The banks have to make up the losses somehow and obviously the somehow is on the backs of the remaining customers, whether they are individuals or businesses. But any way you cut it, as a taxpayer with a bank service, you are going to lose, too. If the bank stays in business, you lose. If the bank goes out of business, you lose. The banks are just playing by the rules government writes.

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