Tag Archive | "bank fees"

The Money Game

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Sometime before recorded history, mankind … some of mankind, anyway … learned that to trade with others was neater than killing to possess what another had.  Thus, the barter system came into being.  Swapping one’s goods for another’s goods was expedient, until the concept of money came into play.


One of the earliest forms of money was salt, for in the days before refrigeration, salt was essential to the preservation of meat, and meat (protein) was essential to the preservation of human life.  People would hand over a bag of salt to whoever had goods they’d wanted to acquire; the size of the bag varied with the asking price of the goods.   When people learned to extract salt from the sea and primitive mines, it became more plentiful and so, the mineral no longer enjoyed as great a demand.  Humans then began to barter precious metals instead of salt, bars of gold and silver.  Somewhere along the way, some genius determined that paper money and small coins minted from gold and silver were easier to cart around on one’s person than gold or silver bullion.


Eventually, the acquisition of money — wealth — became an end in and of itself.   The more wealth one acquired, the more power one possessed and the more avaricious one became.  Whether acquired by a feudal overlord who kept his serfs under his thumb for their most basic necessities, or a conglomerate or huge banking institution abusing its power, money and the urge to possess mass quantities of it became the root of all evil.  For as Jesus Christ warned, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”


Despite Jesus’ admonition, greed — nor William Shakespeare’s reproach, “Neither a borrower or a lender be” — never gave the mega financial institutions a moment’s pause.  If one did not possess the amount of money he needed to acquire the basic necessities (i.e., a home), one knocked on the doors of the financial giants.  Behind those doors, the giants grinned and rubbed their gluttonous hands together, plotting to become more profitable.  Thus was born the practice of charging interest: additional fees for money lent to consumers and other businesses, and additional monies given to consumers or other businesses that allowed the banks to use their deposited money to the bank’s own ends.


While most banks pay out interest to their depositors in the neighborhood of 5% or lower for keeping a saving account open, the institutions charge as much as 30% in interest to consumers who apply for and receive credit cards from the banks.  And, it doesn’t stop there!  Some banks sold mortgages to naïve borrowers who paid back only the interest; their paybacks were never applied to the principal!  Legislation was then enacted to protect the consumer against such practices, thereby creating the amortized loan.  Amortized over a span of many years, each monthly mortgage payment was then applied to interest as well as principal.


Although our current laws demand that banks must be transparent with lenders when selling different types of loans, the banks always find a way to screw the little guy.  It wasn’t enough, just before President George W. Bush left office, that he and his cronies bequeathed $710 billion in bailout monies to the big banks and insurance companies.   Greed is a hungry monster that is never satisfied.   Banks such as Bank of America, to name one, were then caught red-handed, charging their customers for incidentals such as the use of debit cards, or the more prevalent practice of charging as much as $30.00 for bounced checks written out for far less than that amount.


When called on the carpet about those bounced check fees, a representative of Bank of America blatantly stated, in a formal, public announcement, that although her bank would rectify that situation, it would still find ways to extract extra cash from unsuspecting customers! And only a recent uproar from the general public, overturned the fee that Bank of America wished to attach to the use of debit cards.


Although banks may advertise their services as “free checking,” “free online banking,” and other freebies, the truth is another matter.  “Free checking” usually requires a minimum balance of $100 in one’s checking account.  “Free online banking” permits the bank to pay the float on your money, as most banks can take up to 5 days to process a transaction you request.


In all cases, the banks keep a portion of our accounts, to do with as they please, without paying us interest.  Government at the Federal, State, and local levels probably use these same, self-serving practices.  If you doubt this, consider tax credits issued to taxpayers.  These credits are not given in monetary form, but in the form of a statement.  The taxpayer uses the credit and the debtor accepts it without any money being transacted.   The debtor is satisfied, but what about the taxpayer?  He or she never saw any money in the first place, so how can they be sure that they’d really received a credit or just a statement to placate the masses and keep even more money in governments’ pockets?


Yes, the manipulation of money is highly profitable, if the right ones are holding the sacks of dough, that is.  Have you noticed how the devaluation of money was achieved by manipulating public perception?  Not very long ago, millionaires were considered rich beyond the wildest dreams of most people.  Now, millions are chicken change.  Billions, trillions, and quadrillions are the way to go, the path to overwhelming wealth.   All of this money is ground out and doled out daily by the Federal Reserve Bank (but not to hardworking taxpayers).  When money is printed and exchanged in billions and trillions of dollars, its purchasing power will diminish to the point where dump trucks will be needed to carry it to market … again, not by the average taxpayer, who actually work for his or her living.


Those dump trucks may not be all that far behind.  Remember how gold and silver bullion was abandoned in days of yore, in favor of lighter paper currency and coins?  Well, recent trends indicate that savvy (read: rich) investors are returning once again to gold bullion as a hedge against a tanking economy.  If we as a nation should return fully to the gold standard, our present-day U.S. dollars would shrink in number.  And those of us who cannot afford to buy gold bullion will, once again, be screwed.  But the banks will still stand strong.  Who said feudalism is dead?  It may be some time before I get to heaven, but when I do, I’ll wager that there are more camels up there than rich bastards.


Dear Bank of America, Screw You!

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Love and Kisses, Your Soon-to-Be Former Customers

 

More than thirty years ago, a friend of mine declared that our legislators were making a concerted effort to abolish the middle class.  With conviction, she stated that the U.S. government would ensure the existence of but two divisions of citizenry: the filthy rich (i.e., governmental officials and Big Business, who happened to be in bed together) and the very poor (i.e. taxpayers).  Such a shift in our social strata, she postulated, would give the filthy rich what they’d always wanted: total power.


I told her that this was America, that she’d done too much peyote in college, and to get real, for that day would never come. 


I do so hate to be proven wrong.  Today saw yet another nail hammered into the coffin of the middle class which, like the great herds of bison that once roamed our fruited plains, is vanishing before our very eyes.


Bank of America announced today that it is obliterating free checking in favor of a monthly charge of $8.95.  This fee, which carries certain conditions (none of them justifiable) equates to roughly $108 annually from the pockets of each bank customer of this huge, nationwide institution.


Why was this latest screw put to hard-working taxpayers?  The bank has announced that this move was necessary because our present administration has halted the bank’s usury of charging $35 in overdraft fees per transaction even when the actual transactions are mere fractions of those charges.  It turns out that all those now-illegal overdraft fees represented a whopping 12% of Bank of America’s revenue stream!  The bank’s spokesperson, Anne Pace, had the gall to issue the following statement, as if it would mitigate anything:


“Customers never had free checking accounts. They always paid for it in other ways, sometimes with penalty fees.”  Was this inspired bit of public relations designed to make bank customers feel any better, when clearly, they’ve been used all along?  Ms. Pace’s admission can easily be translated as, “If we can’t screw our customers one way, we’ll find another way.” 


I guess Bank of America didn’t get a big enough piece of the pie known as the $710 billion bailout in taxpayer money.  Hey, I know.  The $710 bailout was but a culmination of the beating the American public has received now for decades at the hands of those soul mates, government and Big Business.  Many factors contributed to the creation of this rotten economy; most of them are traceable back to government and Big Business skipping merrily round the mulberry bush, instituting wars for which we must pay and creating healthier economies overseas.


Euphemistically, The Powers That Be refer to our current economy as “a recession.”  Civil war would erupt and blood would run in our streets if they’d called it what it really is.  There are more Americans living now, at or below the poverty line, than there have been in more than 50 years, and the unemployment rate is perilously close to what it was at the onset of the Great Depression.  So what would you call this “recession?”


Economists can cite chapter and verse as to how this bog we’re in differs from a depression.  But quite frankly, I’m done with their blatherings, even if they’re not paid off by the government or the banks to help stave off a genuine revolution.


But why revolt when you can get even in a much more satisfactory and expeditious manner?  I made some calls this afternoon and successfully located a few smaller banks that charge zip for the privilege of playing with customers’ hard-earned cash.   If you patronize Bank of America and feel raped by this latest $108 annual levy against your business, I strongly suggest that you take your business elsewhere. 

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