Thursday, May 21, 2009

(Y)our Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash

Have you been looking at the numbers on your credit card statement in recent weeks -all that daily annual percentage rate, and annual amortized percentage rate and other words that I'm reasonably sure someone, somewhere, is making up as they go along? It's kinda of weird until you get to the bottom line and realize, usually with a jolt, that 'hey, they raised the interest rate on my balance!'

Yeah, about that.....in case you hadn't noticed, it's hard times in the land of plenty though the Lord and the Secretary of the Treasury (who may well be one and same Person; I've never seen a photo of Tim and Him together at the same time, so you have to wonder) are doing what they can to make sure that some time is harder than others for different folks.

Remember back when the Treasury was having a sale on money? Ask for a billion, and get ten billion more. Do you remember the line at the checkout? Nothing succeeds like failure and lucky us, from car companies to banks, we've got financial operations that are too big to fail. I have a whole new appreciation for Tom Hanks now. Heck, where could we be if only we, too, were large?

Anyway, Treasury gave US Banks, and banks that looked like US banks, wheelbarrows of money to keep 'em solvent. Heck! Wheelbarrows doesn't even come close-more like fleets of dump trucks filled with moolah. I'm sort of surprised the auto industry didn't recover from all the really big trucks they should have had to build so the banks could get their share of our money, and not fail.

Yep, the important part, the news reports said, was that the banks NOT fail. Poppycock-the important part was that our government, starting with the last guy and continuing with the new guy, gave the capitalists running the financial institutions a healthy dose of socialism by using our money to bail them out from their own greed and stupidity. When then-candidate Barack Obama promised 'change we can believe in' I hadn't realized he meant change back from my dollar, which, now that I think about it, I haven't actually seen lately. Where the heck is Timmy and what's he got in his pockets?

Anyway, the same banks, back from the brink of disaster, awash with all of our money made business decisions that, surprisingly have nothing to do with cutting loose the bad risks and unloading the poor loan choices that helped trigger this whatever-it-is-we're-in. Instead, the same banks with our bailout money are raising fees and charging us more to get at our own money and tacking on as much as they can as fast as they can on those pieces of plastic before the House and Senate can "reform" credit cards. There's only so far you can go on thirty four or more billion dollars and you've got to have a plan for a rainy day, especially if you're the Bank of America (I guess the "D" in Ken Lewis' name stands for 'dreamer'. That wasn't my first guess, funnily enough.).

Not to worry, though. Not only will our government lock the barn door after the horse is out, the horse will have gamboled its way across the field, jumped a fence, gone into the next county, been hit by a mysterious black dump truck filled with Treasury notes, killed and then used to feed the dogs of war, by the time our legislators 'save' us (probably for dessert). Yeah, I love that it's called a bill of rights with a straight face. That, I suspect, means it's due on the fifteenth of the month and you don't even wanna talk about a grace period. Oh yeah, and thank you for shopping the American Way, where what's mine is mine, but what's yours is negotiable.
-bill kenny

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