George Carlin Was Right
by Don Cooper
by Don Cooper
George Carlin was right: this country was bought and paid for a long time ago and it's run by the banks and the state. I knew this but I'm not sure I understood it until recently.
I recently took a new job in Milwaukee, Wi. In preparation for my relocation I called my creditors in an effort to responsibly manage my finances and see if for the month or two that I would be financially overburdened with the move if I could defer my payments. That small sum of money would be immeasurable in helping us shoulder the costs of relocation. My new company is reimbursing me, of course, but I still have to incur the costs up front. My creditors were more than willing to help except for Bank of America. I was in good standing with BOA and didn't think it would be a problem.
Unfortunately, it was. I was told not only would they not grant me a monthly deferment but they were cancelling my credit cards! This wasn't the first time I had run-in with BOA: I've been banking with them for about 2.5 years, in good standing, but on the rare occasion have overdrawn my checking account using my debit card. What I noticed was that if a transaction would overdraw my checking account and at the same time there were other pending transactions, BOA would process the largest transaction first, causing all the smaller transactions to overdraw my account to which they would charge me a $35 overdraft fee for each one. They would do this rather than posting the smaller transactions first and posting the largest one last therefore incurring only the one overdraft fee.
This pattern was easily discernable in my transaction history. Upon calling BOA and speaking to them about this and telling them that if a transaction were to overdraw my account then I would prefer that they decline the transaction, I was told that, that is not possible. It is company policy, and not up to the consumer to decide. I then asked them why they post the largest transactions first and I was fed a line of bullshit: because we're watching out for the welfare of our customers and if it's a mortgage payment then we want to make sure it goes through. Yes, my $100 transaction from JC Penney was a mortgage payment on the tool shed I live in.
There are numerous articles on the Internet regarding this BOA policy. Not to mention the total of $140 billion in government bailout funds that BOA has received. If there was any doubt if the banks and the state were in cahoots that should clear things up.
Then there is the state. Soon after moving to Milwaukee, I received a speeding ticket (a.k.a. frivolous taxation). I was clocked doing 65 in a 50 zone. Of course no one was doing the speed limit. This was on the interstate. Can you imagine going 50 mph on the interstate? It's absurd. Everyone goes 5—10 mph at least over the posted speed limit and they do just fine. I just happened to be coming from a 65 mph zone and was going 15 mph over it so I stuck out in the herd.
I've been driving for 30 years and have never been involved in an accident, my fault or someone else's, and I've NEVER filed an insurance claim although I've been forced to pay in excess of $30,000 in state mandated insurance premiums over that time but I certainly received my share of speeding tickets. I think we can close the book on speeding alone being the cause of accidents, don't you?
My Florida license even has "safe driver" stamped on it and that's because I am. There are so many factors that figure into a safe driver: experience, condition of the driver, condition of the road, condition of the car, etc… I am a very conscience, defensive driver and I'm proud of it, so you can imagine my ire when a 34-year-old sheriff's deputy pulls me over to harass me and tax me and educate me on the error of my ways.
I'll be going to traffic court on April 16th to see if there is any reason left in our society's justice system. I'm not holding my breath. Funny, I remember working as a young economist in the budget office for the state of Florida. One of my responsibilities was to estimate revenues for the various government entities around the state. It was rule of law that law enforcement agencies were expected to generate a large portion of their operating revenue via traffic citations.
So George was right: the banks and the state run the show and those are the two entities that we are most powerless against. That has become painfully clear to me now. God bless George.
March 27, 2009
Don Cooper [send him mail] is an economist living and working in Atlanta, Georgia.
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