Saturday, May 30, 2009

Giving Credit Where It's Due

Giving Credit Where It's Due

A couple of days ago I started a blog blasting the Senate, Well, I still will. They're a bunch of fuckin pussies. Why? Cause I guess we finally get to see that bipartisanship Obama was talking about
May 13, 2009, 5:49 pm
Senate Rejects Limit on Credit-Card Interest Rates
By Carl Hulse

Despite complaints that banks and credit card companies are gouging customers by charging outrageous interest rates, the Senate on Wednesday easily turned back an effort to cap interest rates at 15 percent.

The effort by Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, drew only 33 votes and needed 60, with a bipartisan group of 60 senators opposing it as the Senate pushed its credit card overhaul toward the finish line. Some Democrats and consumer groups have said that an interest cap is needed to put real teeth into an otherwise solid bill.

Other backers of the measure calculated that an interest rate ceiling would doom the popular legislation. The banking industry, which had some heavy-weight representatives monitoring the vote off of the Senate floor, warned that an interest rate limit could cause a sour reaction in the financial markets.

But Mr. Sanders said the card companies and banks were engaged in conduct that could get others hauled into court. He said one-third of all credit card holders are paying interest above 20 percent and as high as 41 percent.

“When banks are charging 30 percent interest rates, they are not making credit available,” said Mr. Sanders, who noted credit unions are limited to 15 percent. “They are engaged in loan-sharking.”

After the effort failed, Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, the Democratic chairman of the banking committee, proposed that the Federal Reserve be asked to provide an analysis of how Congress could rein in interest rates.

Senators said they hoped to finish up the credit card bill as early as Thursday, coinciding with a town hall meeting by President Obama on credit card issues in New Mexico.
Only one republican voted yes (Grassley R-IA) and 21 democrats (plus Lieberman) voted no. I'm sure most of you can guess which ones without looking but I'm gonna post them anyway.


NAYs —60
Akaka (D-HI)
Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Carper (D-DE)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagan (D-NC)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kaufman (D-DE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (D-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Warner (D-VA)
Wicker (R-MS)

But then, before I expanded on this idea something happened. Hope.. yes, The audacity of a credit check happened and it looks like we're getting something after all. Congress went ahead and did it..
Congress Passes Landmark Credit Card Reform
First Posted: 05-14-09 08:00 PM | Updated: 05-20-09 03:02 PM

The House of Representatives passed sweeping credit card reform legislation Wednesday aimed at limiting abusive and deceptive credit card practices. The measure passed with a resounding 361-64 vote and now heads to the president's desk.

A Republican amendment to allow guns in National Parks also passed, 279-147. House Democratic leaders had decided to split the bill into two parts so as not to force liberal members to vote in favor of the gun rule.

The overwhelming vote is a signal of how far the country's politics have shifted as a result of the financial crisis. Despite popularity in the 90-percent range, the bill never had a chance of passing in previous years.

"I've been in Washington twenty years. For the first nineteen we couldn't even get a committee vote on credit card reform despite these practices," remarked PIRG's Ed Mierzwinski.
Wait.. what?
A Republican amendment to allow guns in National Parks also passed, 279-147.
Seriously? FUCK YOU PEOPLE. What the fuck are they going to do with them there anyway? Gun are for pretty much 2 things the first is shooting shit the second is jacking off to. I mean that in the nicest way possible. But why the hell do they need them in national parks? to shoot bears? And forget shooting minorities. Good luck getting a Mexican into a national park. pfft.

But seriously. They really think that you're going to be able to protect yourself in a national park. Or for that matter that you need protecting in a national park from animals like bears with the use of a gun or something. This is an excuse to carry a gun into a controlled wilderness in the hopes of blowing shit away while gradually eroding common sense.

Why can't the democrats have the balls to blanket legalization of gay marriage onto a bill allowing loaded guns into churches or something? Now that's the way to go considering these gun nuts and NRA members (Which sadly, I'm now a member of) would like to attach any possible stupid gun law to the bills just to please the right wing wackos.

But again, what the hell is the point of this? I can hear the red necks now: "Let's see those faggot-ass park rangers tell me my TruckNutz are "inappropriate" the next time I drive my F-350 to Jackson Hole!"

What's really scary is that I once spoke with a park ranger at death valley and he said the majority of his calls were domestic violence situations. Seems to me that this will only cause more shallow graves to be dug. I also can't wait to hear about the "Wildlife declines" in US National parks after a couple of decades of letting these gun nuts go free with this sort of ability.

Oh yeah, and the best part of this credit card reform is that they took out the best parts of the original credit card reform bill, that being the cap to it being only 15% interest rate. The credit card bill is a bullshit half-step forward with no realistic max interest rate and is vastly inferior to the bill that got shot down. So pardon me if I harp on the whole gun bullshit for a bit more. It'll spare some time from me ranting on about how weak and ineffectual this legislation is for reforming credit.
WASHINGTON - People will soon be able to carry concealed, loaded guns in most national parks and wildlife refuges.

The Bush administration said Friday it is overturning a 25-year-old federal rule that severely restricts loaded guns in national parks.

Under a rule to take effect in January, visitors will be able to carry a loaded gun into a park or wildlife refuge — but only if the person has a permit for a concealed weapon and if the state where the park or refuge is located also allows concealed firearms.
wait, why concealed loaded guns. why is concealed important in a national forest. Who are you concealing the gun from. Do you think that a bear will NOT attack you because they think you may or may not be hiding your glock? Not to mention, a bear is more than likely NOT going to attack you. But again, we have the American way of thinking. That is we need to be actively seeking a fight to defend our freedom..

Maybe it's for the best. It just means I'll potentially camp less. It was bad enough camping thinking that the people set up next to me were crazy. I don't need to worry about if they're going to randomly shoot me in their drunken lawless nature trip. Besides, I'm pretty sure a firearm you can comfortably carry while hiking isn't going to do shit against a bear.

Perhaps more time should be given on the bill. says it's a good bill. Basically it claims to do its job, while not ending capitalism. It may not have a cap on interest rates but I suppose it makes an impact on the sleaziest practices of the credit card industry.

* Plain-English contracts
* Can't raise interest rates on existing balances unless the card holder is 60 days behind, then the rate has to be restored if payments are on time for six months.
* 45 days advance notice required for rate increases.
* Credit card companies can't charge a late fee if they themselves are late processing a payment.
* Statements have to get mailed 21 days before the payment is due.
* Harder to give credit cards to people under 21.
* Interest rates can't be increased within the first year
* Promotional rates have to last at least 6 months

Though, we may have unleashed a monsters with this "reform" since they have to make a buck somewhere. For those of you who pay their balances off monthly and promptly pay off purchases, guess what, they're tightening the screws on you as well. We all know that their best customers are the ones they fuck out of late fees and gouge on interest rates, but for you who pay off things on time and are nearly useless to them, they're threatening to bring back annual fees of $50+ to gouge the pay-in-fullers.

I know what you're telling yourself. "But I neeeeeeed credit cards! How else will I build credit for a future unsustainable life of owning a house and having children!!!!! the AMERICAN DREAM CANNOT BE DENIED

Our problem with money management is largely cultural. As bad as the credit card companies are they're only so wildly profitable because Americans are hooked on instant gratification and don't understand how compound interest works and are terrible at math. The demand for consumer debt is insane and it's only natural that companies will exploit it. Even if we limited interest rates to 5% a lot of people would still manage to get themselves into trouble.

I have a pretty decent credit rating. It's nothing special but then again, I'm not trying to buy another place or anything. I hate using my credit cards. I don't seem to use them at all or very rarely. I'd rather carry cash with me. Sure, I'll get robbed for whatever I have. At least i don't have to worry about having my credit ruined by a crook who loads up on gas and I'm stuck trying to argue with the credit company who will just jack up my interest rate.

I made the realization that if I borrowed money from the mob, they'd charge me less than most credit card companies. Add in that if I didn't pay them back, they'd break my legs, not ruin my life like a credit card company would. I like that honesty in my collector. Pain instead of killing you with paper cuts. The mob won't make you suffer, they'll just end your life instead of ruining your ability to live life. I give them points for being more upfront about it and taking off the band-aid quickly instead of this slow and painful shit.

Still have your attention?

Without an interest rate cap, good luck collecting the money at those interest rate percentage, cause no one is going to be able to pay it. Having trouble paying back your loan? No problem, we'll increase your monthly payment to make it easier on you. The sad thing is that the banks would have never been able to afford to lobby for this were it not for TARP. So someone bailed them out but they don't like to pass it on.

If you don't give a shit about your credit score you can really abuse the system, and $20k lasts a hell of a long time if you're living as a hobo or in a third world country or whatever. I know a couple anarchist types that have done this. Take out tens of thousands in credit, buy a bunch of shit and take a bunch out with cash advance, etc., and take off with the loot. One used it as the foundation for a Chris McCandless style jaunt across the US, and the other was living in a commune last time I talked to him.

It's also kinda hard to feel sorry for the credit card companies knowing that even if 90% of the American population just maxed out and then moved to the 3rd world to live as tourists for the rest of their lives, the cc companies would still be bailed out with money borrowed from China before they felt any real discomfort.

All this credit card talk, I need to keep your attention somehow.

what's funny is a lot of these 30% rates are being directed at customers for completely bullshit reasons. Someone with a perfect credit score who's never missed a payment shouldn't have their rate bumped from 7% to 28% because the check arrived one day late that month. I wonder what it's like to go into work every day and be like "well i could help this struggling person meet their obligation and pay the interest they owe me, or i could just suck every penny possible out of them until they crash and burn".

1. have a credit card
2. lose job
3. reverse profit
4. debt sold to collection agency
5. said agency reappropriates your means of livelihood
6. bootstrap!

I had an 8% rate on a BoA card, never missed a payment. One day I noticed on my bill that it had gone up to 22%. No reason, no warning, no notification - just triple interest one day. I called to bitch and the response was basically "fuck you oh and if you try to transfer to another card we're charging you some bullshit percentage to move the balance. Oh yeah, we didn't notify you of that change to your contract either, sucker!"

And for those of you who want to pump up your credit score for that potential home purchase, let me tell you, it's not all that it's cracked up to be. An individual paying rent is likely to pay less than a home owner who has to pay for the mortgage, insurance, property tax, trash, water, and repairs. while it's true that the value of your home will increase, so will the value of pretty much all other homes in the same market. if you ever sell your home to move into another, you're not likely to come up much (especially after paying for mandatory renovations, brokerage fees, etc).

If you look at where you live from a utilitarian point of view, renting makes more sense than home ownership. the American cult of home ownership causes suburban sprawl, water shortages, fossil fuel dependence, reckless consumerism, and the creation of a debtor class. why should we encourage people to take on needless debt as a means to arrive at home ownership? In the short of it, if you can't afford to buy a home, don't. Renting provides just as much satisfaction without paying so god damn much.

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