Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Remember the scene in Casablanca when the pickpocket warns the Englishman whose pocket he is picking that there are, "Vultures, vultures everywhere." Well, we still have plenty of vultures here. I received in the mail today an offer of credit from a company called CITI. I won't go into all the details but the bottom line is I can have a line of credit with "Predictable monthly payments," at a "fixed rate," that are said to be "affordable monthly payments." The fixed rate is 17.99% APR. This has made me very angry for several reasons.

First, they obviously assume that I am stupid. Very stupid. Why else would I agree to a interest rate of 17.99, especially when I could easily get a much lower rate virtually anywhere else.

Second, perhaps they think I am desperate. This means they think I have already used up so much credit the only thing I can expect is a 17.99% rate. They apparently want to administer the coup de gras to an already virtually bankrupt citizen that their peers in the financial world have already bled almost to death.

Third, maybe they think I am such a deadbeat and high risk they can only afford to take a chance with a high interest rate. If so, they obviously haven't looked at my credit rating and are just randomly targeting people they think may be vulnerable (or illiterate).

Fourth, I resent the fact that apparently we have no laws against usury. Or if we do they must only kick in when the rate calls for your first born child, your liver, or perhaps even your heart. Who in the world agreed to allow interest rates to rise to this level? Let me guess. Banks and other lenders who give millions upon millions to Congressmen? I suppose they think 17.99% is reasonable when compared to the rates for short term loans.

Fifth, the fact that it makes me angry, makes me angry. I do not like to think of the human race as being inherently greedy and disgusting. But when I see something like this, that is what I think.

Sixth, it bothers me to know there are people out there with apparently no shame. I would personally never try to suck anyone into such an outrageous debt. Is this the kind of stuff they learn in Business School these days?

Seventh, it infuriates me to know that if someone foolish enough to sign up for such an unconscionable scheme can't pay up they will have to go into bankruptcy. Never mind how this probably affects their family and personal lives, it also means they can quite likely never get another loan at a decent rate for the rest of their lives.

Eighth, it makes me angry that I receive, every week, at least one offer of credit, and sometimes more than that. They offer "teaser rates" that are lower than they will be sometime later. If you already have an outstanding loan balance at a higher rate they pay that one off first before they even get to your new rate. They encourage you to use one card to pay off another. You have to be very alert to the fine print to learn they charge you a fee for doing this which mostly negates the point of doing it. Sometimes they just slowly raise the rate they originally promised you, hoping you either won't notice or won't object. In short, they are sly and devious at every turn.

Ninth, I believe that our current credit and credit card system is no less than the functional equivalent of slavery. Who needs slaves that you have to worry about feeding and clothing and health care and such when you can achieve the same result by encouraging people to drown themselves in debt. True, you can't beat them every day when you might feel like it, and you can't forcibly breed or rape them, but that's a small price to pay for genuine slave labor that you don't have to be otherwise responsible for.

Finally, it outrages me to know that our government allows this pillaging of its citizens to continue as it does. If you are going to have a credit system it should be conducted in the best interest of the citizens themselves, not just in the best interest of the apparently insatiable greed of various corporations and the obscenely wealthy. Remember the lenders are not paying interest, they are collecting it. Who are the lenders? The people that have the money in the first place. Where did they get the money? In most cases from ripping off the poor who have to borrow and pay interest. It's a great system if you're wealthy. It's why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Simple, no?


"Style is but the faintly contemptible vessel in which the bitter liquid is recommended to the world."
Thornton Wilder

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