Friday :: Nov 26, 2004

Watch Your Credit Cards


by Duckman GR

They're watching you.

Tuesday's Frontline did a story on credit cards and their shenanigans. I saw the rerun at 4:00 am Wed morning as I was contemplating getting ready to think about starting to get ready for work. (I'm not, obviously, a morning person, so it takes a while, but I needed to get in early.)

It's an ugly story of how big business operates, and I strongly urge you to read the transcript above and it's links like this one on credit scores, especially this time of year. Note that you can get a free credit score report starting Dec. 1, 2004 from this (www.annualcreditreport.com) site. (Link seems to be bloggered a bit.)

Towards the end of the show they talked to Julie Williams, Acting Comptroller, OCC. This is what the OCC "does" for us. We have three goals, to make sure that the banks don't fail, to ensure the integrity of how the banks operate, their corporate governance, and to make sure that they deal fairly and honestly with their customers

They aren't working for the consumers, it's a relationship with the banks. Remember that, customers are incidental to the OCC.

LOWELL BERGMAN (Reporter): What they're telling us is that the OCC only got involved once this whole situation became public, that prior to the news publicity that they were responsible for, they had no contact with the OCC.

JULIE WILLIAMS: We worked cooperatively with them when we got information about what was going on.

NARRATOR: The joint investigation eventually culminated in a $300 million settlement. Providian declined to be interviewed and issued a statement saying, "Rather than revisit the past, the company is focused on "services ... that provide real benefits today."

In Washington, the OCC has been increasingly asserting its authority and attempting to curb consumer enforcement actions by local prosecutors. This has sparked a nationwide battle, led by the attorneys general in all 50 states.

ELLIOT SPITZER, NY State Atty. General: The OCC is now trying to squeeze out the state presence, to prevent us from protecting consumers, which I think is ultimately very injurious to consumers.

Talk about understatement, eh! Snip

NARRATOR: Since the Providian case, the OCC says it has been more aggressive, recently issuing an advisory admonishing the banks for misleading the public about practices like zero percent introductory rates and universal default.

You know, I just love shit like that, don't you? An advisory admonishment. Didn't Monty Python do a bit on that? It's sorta like the admonishment the republican dictated congress gave tom delay. It is meaning less. As Bartcop says, if a "mistake" makes you a bunch of money, you'll keep making that same mistake until somebody FORCES you to stop. And an admonishment ain't force.

Now, back to the OCC. Take Julie Williams for instance.

She's the kind of person you might never hear from, but as the snippet above indicates, she's one of those people that big business seems to like. According to the Georgia Bankers Association she has been especially involved in supporting a national bank’s rights to be regulated at the federal level rather than by the states. And before she worked at the OCC she worked for this law firm in New York, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, LLP, who do mergers and acquisitions, valued at $934 BILLION over the last four years. Their retired former Partner, Max Kampelman is, or was, a PNACer. They show up on a client list of this firm, Greene & Associates, Inc., along with a slew of oil companies and some law firms like, Vinson & Elkins, LLP.

MBNA has become a huge business because everybody has their credit cards, I just got a replacement for an expired card Wed. And they screw their customers, as per the Frontline story. And they gave a potful of cash to bush. According to this website, a lot of money.

Yet the reporter, the victims, Democrats, continue to ask if it's a fair practice, if the companies are being fair, if the republican dictated congress is going to be fair to Democrats and America.

Jeebus, fairness is such an empty word to republicans. What do they care about fairness? Fairness and $1.65 gets you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. They're getting rich and powerful and the Government is their willing partner, yet again. The bushites have no allegiance to anything. States rights? Not if they can bludgeon more profits from the American people with a national imprimatur.

The choose blue site makes this point, if each American who voted for John Kerry spends $100 in 2005 on a Blue company instead of a Red company, we can move $5 Billion away from Republican companies and add $5 Billion to the income of companies who donate to Democrats.

I can't, at this point, verify choose blues info, but I do know that the numbers on HP and Dell are consistent with what I've seen at the FEC site. As Steve says below, one thing that Sinclair taught us is that Wall Street and the corporate boards understand when bad politics hurts business.

We don't have to boycott these companies so much as stop funding the hate mongers and corporatists and goppers. Why give money to the waltons and murdochs and scaifes and kochs et al, when you don't have to? And we don't have to.

Is there anything sweeter than screwing an enemy and getting them to pay for it? The goppers have all the money, so the argument goes, so the Democrats can barely compete, in part because half of us give it to them so they can give it to us, painfully. But we can compete financially, as this election demonstrated, so long as we, get ready, compete. You know, fight, oppose, demonstrate our values through action.

So when you get that solicitation from MBNA in the mail with the postage paid envelope, send it back. With some Democratic literature. And if you have a card of theirs, well, let's try to figure out the most expensive way for us to return that card to MBNA. And get a card from some less predatory and republican bank. I'll bet they are out there, they might even be from a local credit union or something.

Duckman GR :: 1:47 PM :: Comments (12) :: Digg It!