In Debt to the Democrats

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In the years I have been writing about the antics of the political classes of this country, I have labored under the impression that these are people who believe — or at least want us to believe — that we are in their debt. Little did I realize how true that was until I received last Saturday’s mail.

Included among the bills and letters were three (that is correct) "exclusive offers" to have my very own Democratic Party Visa Platinum Card, which Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe assures me will "help return Democratic values to Washington." Being that I was under the impression those "values" never have left that God-forsaken city, this was a surprise to me.

Since I am not in the market for a new charge card — something I repeat to the gaggle of telemarketers that regularly inform me of my eligibility for yet more plastic — I am not going to send in my application. However, I do find this entire thing to be a curiosity, so I am going to suggest some new marketing tools for the Democrats and their charge card.

First, and most important, the card does not seem to square with the "Democratic Values" that I have endured for all my life. The most obvious thing is that after the November election — Is this done on purpose? — the interest rate jumps from 3.99% APR to a whopping 16.99%. In other words, the card behaves just like politicians, who are constantly throwing the "bait-and-switch" con at the voters.

Democrats more than anyone else should deplore such tactics. After all, they have been telling us for the past four years that George W. Bush has said he will do one thing — and then does another. (That may be true, but we are talking about Democrats. At this writing, the Republicans have not sent me a credit card application.)

Ever since the unsuccessful U.S. presidential campaign of William Jennings Bryan in 1896, Democrats have wedded themselves to "cheap money" via government. This is the party that was in the White House when the Federal Reserve System was created — though it truly came about because of "bi-partisanship" — and whose Ultimate Standard Bearer Franklin D. Roosevelt not only took the country’s money off the gold standard, but also confiscated gold from Americans by fraudulently using the "Trading With the Enemy Act" of 1917 as his "legal" hook.

They need to play up this important monetary legacy with something like the following declaration: " As the political party that ultimately destroyed your money, we believe that we must continue that important legacy by pushing cheap credit — and making money from it at the same time." If Democrats are going to revel in their legacy of being the Party of Play Money, they should go whole hog.

Thus, if the Democrats really want to walk their talk, they should be offering a card with zero interest, or at least something that lets all of us know that we are receiving government-subsidized credit. And if they really want to let us know that they are serious, they should offer a lower interest rate after November if they are successful in the upcoming elections. In other words, they need to do a better job of bribing voters.

Second, they need to emphasize that this card carries a choice. Now, when one says the word "choice" to Democrats, they think we are talking about abortion. (Good Democrats, you know, say that if anyone who believes that killing unborn children is wrong is "anti-choice," and should be banned from public life altogether or perhaps banned from the universe.)

This card does offer a "choice" to its users, and it is not a discount at the local abortion mill. No, the application has a box that people can check that declares: "No, I do not wish to donate my 1% rebate to the DNC; please credit my account instead." The other "choice" is for the 1% rebate that the card offers with each purchase to go to the DNC. That way, Democrats will enjoy even more money to run political campaigns in which their politicians insist that Americans are under taxed. Thus, Democrats should emphasize that they really do give Americans a "choice," at least when it comes to using their credit cards to fund the political classes.

But wait! There’s more! If Democrats are going to use the specter of individual indebtedness to fill their coffers, then they need to come up with a counter proposal to pay down the gargantuan federal debt that the Republicans have given us. Perhaps the letter should have said something like this:

"Republicans have burdened this country with a murderous and unjust debt. While we do not approve of this huge public fiduciary obligation and pledge to reduce it and the federal deficit if you return us to office, we believe that the best way we can accomplish this end is for you to increase your own indebtedness.

"If returned to power, we will increase your taxes, so it will be even more difficult for you to pay back the personal debt we need you to accumulate, but we also promise to make bankruptcy laws more lenient so you can continue your borrowing sprees unencumbered by the prospect of destroying your finances."

Alas, the letter said none of these things; instead, all I got was an offer for a credit card that I don’t want — and with the image of a jackass on it to boot. Then again, I think that I would have been a jackass had I sent in the application. Being that I do not check the $3 box on my tax forms nor make political contributions, I am going to sit out the money part of this election. I wish I could sit out the election itself, but that is another story for another time. Suffice it to say that this latest attempt by the political classes to fleece me soon will be on its way to the landfill — where it belongs.

April 13, 2004

William L. Anderson, Ph.D. [send him mail], teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland, and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

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