Monthly Archives: April 2009

Capital One – Survival Guide

Perhaps it is my deviant mind that finds something a bit wrong with Capital One’s card lab commercial with shipwreck survivals-you know, the one where they one guy logs onto the internet, designs a credit card with a hamburger instead of calling for help for the rest of the survivors.

I’m not quite sure where Capital One was going for with this commercial and I can only imagine they thought it was cute. With a near 9% nationwide unemployment rate and thought to go higher while people are surviving this credit crisis Capital One wants to distract us with meat. Not to mention many are surviving and worrying how to put food on the table for their families. Point taken, Capital One credit cards are more important than people’s survival. To me this says Capital One doesn’t care if we are having difficulty surviving, putting food on the table, as long as we use one of their cards.

Now perhaps I am being too strong here, but since credit crisis Capital One jacked up interest rates on many consumers. I, with the help of Easy Financial Solutions called to talk to Capital One about my high interest rate. After being passed around for a half an hour they said my interest rate would be lowered on my next bill due to my good payment performance. Guess what, they lied. My interest rate was not lowered. What a surprise. And guess what-I transferred my entire Capital One balance to another card with a zero percent interest rate. Take that for survival Capital One!

Here’s the thing with Capital One. You can’t raise interest rates because your business is suffering, especially when you received a government bailout. You can’t change billing cycles for profit. You can’t claim credit reform will hurt business when you spend so much money on commercials. My credit union charges 9% interest rate and they have no high overhead for a big marketing budget. They pass on their savings to their customers. And you can’t lie to a customer and then have the nerve to put out a commercial say you care. It’s deceptive.

Capital One says – Consumers eat cake! On in this case, eat a hamburger.

Credit Card Reform – Why Important?

reformI’m not sure why this issue seems to be swept under the carpet and discarded. Many have expressed outraged; being stranded without credit, credit limit cuts and interest rates raised and people have committed suicide with overwhelming debt.  Why more people are not behind this issue is beyond me.

 

The reason I am drawn to this issue is not because I have debt and I want to avoid any responsibility. It is because I want to live my life free of Credit Corporation’s mighty thumb. I don’t like being exploited and I don’t like being taken advantage of. If I have debt, please allow me the opportunity to pay down with reasonable rates.  There are many who don’t want more government control, well I certainly not want corporate control. I do not want to be at the mercy of a greedy corporate CEO. There is no one to blame for the credit card “crisis” but the credit card companies. They pushed financial responsibility to the limits (pun intended).

 

But this is an easy issue to gloss over by offering ways to overcome debt, or consolidate debt. Many look to the future to teach about credit cards and debt and many just live in scorn and judgment of those who found themselves in debt.  Just because many have found ways to live within the exploitation does not mean it is right. Just because many are able to manage debt, does not mean the system works and is fair. Just because it isn’t dramatic, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the fight.

 

Others fear if legislation passes credit issuers will become more stringent with lending.  Wow, imagine having to earn credit.  I don’t see how many could argue, especially those who criticize consumer overspending. Creditor responsibility will lead to consumer responsibility and isn’t responsibility and accountably what we are striving for?  This will take us back to corporate and consumer fiscal responsibility.

 

Thankfully the credit card reform has some strong supporter. Below is part of an email received from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

 

In my view, when a credit card company charges 25 or 30 percent interest rates, they are not engaged in the business of “making credit available” to their customers.  They are involved in extortion and loan-sharking.  This is especially true at a time when the taxpayers of this country have provided many hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out Wall Street, and when the Federal Reserve is providing them with near zero percent interest loans.

 

The good news is that President Obama and Congress are beginning to address the issue of credit card rip-offs.  The bad news is that, at this point, they are not prepared to go as far as they should in this area.  While moving forward on credit card “disclosure” and “transparency” is very important, what is more important is that we pass a national usury law and place a cap on interest rates. 

 

To me this should be one of the easiest bills to vote yes. What kind of person would honestly deny consumer rights?  One would be surprised. Many of these banks that have received bail out money are using that very money to lobby congressmen. This issue is about keeping corporations and some people very rich at the expense of the average American consumer.  Here is what is holding up this issue in congress-greed.  It is corporate greedy CEO’s padding the pockets of congressmen. As Americans, do we feel this is acceptable or should we send a message to our government not support politicians who are bought out by corporations.

 

What this issue means is making sure the government works for the people and not corporations. We may not be able to lobby with large sums of money, but we do have the power to elect them and not elect them to office. We need to make sure the politicians know that we have a voice and we are watching for government accountability.

 

But mostly for me, credit card reform brings the financial power to the average American. We will not be a the mercy of a corporation and with that perhaps the American dream will be back in reach for many

Defenders of Credit Issuers

playingEverything being said about the practices of credit card companies, it surprises me how some people still defend credit card issuers, but there are many harsh (dare I say ignorant) comments being said about consumers in debt. Look, I don’t care how anal you have been with your credit cards-people including college students are being exploited. Why be angered and outraged for fair consumer rights? What kind of person does not want to stand up for the rights of the average American? It just doesn’t make any sense and these people who fervently defend credit card companies sound like selfish.

Now perhaps many of these people lashing out like a woman scorned to those of us campaigning for consumer rights is because they work in the credit industry, or have made money off credit cards. If you know how to work the system-I get it. You want to make more money. But most people don’t want to spend their lives playing with money and reading mind numbing contracts that don’t make any sense.

Why the anger and why the hostility? Yes, it would probably make getting credit harder. Hooray! That would make people more responsible with their money. What a novel idea, having to earn your credit card. Perhaps this will encourage companies to lend responsibly and consumers more responsible with spending.

Look, it doesn’t matter that you personally play by the rules, if the rules are flawed and unfair….the rules are flawed and unfair. You can’t blame others for not wanting to play by unfair rules and regulations. What these people who go to great lengths to defend credit card companies don’t understand is the rules and regulations are unfair-period. This is like playing poker knowing the deck is marked. You’re a good player, so you don’t care the deck is marked, but others may not want to play with those who cheat. Get it?

I understand that consumer spending is down and people are not using credit cards. I understand this is negatively affecting the credit card industry and the economy. Perhaps these companies could save by not spending 1.7 million dollars on lobbying, creating expensive ad and CEO’s just don’t have to be so stinking rich.

Many want to blame consumers for over spending and materialism, but what about the greedy CEO’s who run these corporations and try to squeeze pennies from Americans. How can you call consumers greedy, when CEO’s are getting richer and richer? All we are asking is to level out the playing field.

I’m Maxed Out!

There wasn’t much to do yesterday on a rainy Sunday expect watch television and even though I have cable there was nothing worth watching except documentaries. I woke up yesterday and learned of a global health crisis and potential pandemic. Later in the afternoon I learned American teenagers are kidnapped from their homes and sold into sex slavery-not to mention they post porn sites of these girls on Craigslist. Around dinner time I caught the tail end of a documentary about the polar ice caps. Research tells us they could be melted by 2013 (in 4 years). In the evening when I needed some lighter news, I watched an amazing documentary on the Credit Card industry-Maxed out. Afterward I turned to CNN and watched fisherman mass murder sharks for soup.  I was maxed out and it was time for bed.

 

As I tossed and turned this morning, unemployed and depressed I thought of all the issues I watched yesterday and I came to one startling conclusion; all these issues at one common denominator –money. I have been told in recent days that money is not bad and I need to have a healthier attitude. And I agree money is not bad. Greed, materialism and selfishness are bad.  But you see it is more than just money it is our value. We value our money, our stuff and ourselves more then we value life itself.  Many say, don’t watch the news. It is depressing. It is easy to turn our heads away from the problems if they don’t affect us. 

 

People are dying and going bankrupt in our country because they can’t afford health care. Not my problem, many say. I don’t want to pay for someone else’s health care.  You don’t care until a loved one gets sick and dies. And then you wish someone was there to help with the health care.

 

Teenage girls are being sold into prostitution, raped and beaten until nearly dead for our billion dollar porn industry. People are making billions and billions of dollars abusing young children.  It’s not my child. Even many police officers are blaming these girls-classifying them as bad. In media personalities like Bill O’Rielly say they had it coming. This is not a major issue and until your child turns up on a missing persons page, porn internet site or the morgue.

 

The melting of the polar ice caps, many do not want to believe. They worry too much about their cars. We must have oil to fuel our cars. Corporations say they cannot change because it will raise the bills of average consumers. Consumers complain about raising utility costs. Here’s the point, when and if the polar ice caps melt, the earth will heat up making the planet unlivable.  At that point your car and the extra nickel you saved in utility bills would be worthless.

 

Credit card industry is the issue close to my heart. Being a dreamer, I bought into the American dream. Unfortunately I learned the American dream costs a lot of money and even my soul. Many have made a lot of money in the credit card industry, pimping cards to students, collecting debts, consolidating debts, etc. Many college students committed suicide because of debt.  Families have gone bankrupt and living in poverty so these corporations can continue to make a mass profit. Check out the movie, Maxed Out! It’s brilliant.

 

 

                 This quote speaks volumes today as many want to turn their head from the problems and pretend they don’t see. The point is we can continue to turn our heads and look in the other direction. It doesn’t affect me. I am healthy and I have health insurance. That doesn’t concern me. My child is safe and a good kid. Environmental talk is BS, plus I need my car to get back forth to work. I am good with my money, why should I concern myself with debtors. I don’t like shark soup.

                When a crisis knocks on our front door, will our neighbors help? Will our government we elect come to our aid or the aid of big business for profit? When we need a helping hand, who will give? In the end political and economic ideologies are meaningless. It doesn’t matter if you are a democrat or a republican, a liberal or a conservative, capitalist or socialist, Christian or Muslim. We will all be affected.

Torture Memos – The Verdict

Anywhere you look today, on the internet or television you will find the debate about the torture memos released by the Obama administration; unless you are CNN, then you will dig your head in the sand because your are fearful of broadcasting anything controversial. It just might hurt your dear little ratings. No matter what side of the ideological fence you ride this is detrimental to our nation.

For decades the United States took the high road in morality and humanity. We have tried and hung, not just those who gave the orders in the Holocaust, but the German soldiers who carried them out. We have proclaimed civil rights violations of China in their treatment of Tibet. We were outraged by Slobodan Milošević and the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia, who was later convicted of war crimes and died in jail. We are sickened by the atrocities at Darfur. Throughout this time, the United States stood true to the principle, Americans don’t torture.

We in this country after a great deal of bloodshed over came slavery, but it was only recently that the Klu Klux Klan and other groups tortured and killed many innocent people. Regardless, the ideology should be the same-Man’s inhumanity to man is wrong. It should not matter the color of a man’s skin, his religion, his sexual orientation-brutality is a crime.

Many have said our country is in economic peril. Should we be spending money, time and effort on looking backward and digging up the past? Even our President did not want to look backward, but move forward. Perhaps, but taking into consideration, our history and moral high standard in the world we must take this subject very seriously. We cannot simply wash this under the table and say we were scared. We were worried of another terrorist attack. Worrying for our freedom, does not mean we have the right to take another man’s freedom away. Fear should not evoke brutality.

The world is watching us very carefully, especially Spain who already has indicated they may press charges on some of the people who wrote the torture memos. American pride and dignity is at stake. Are we a nation of our word? Do we really believe torture is wrong? If we fail to act; we are presenting a disservice to all those who suffered during the holocaust, in Bosnia and Darfur. If we fail to act we are presenting a double standard. If we do not act appropriately we are giving rationality that cruelty is acceptable.

Then the question remains, where do we draw the line at cruelty? Who decides what is acceptable? Is it okay to torture and kill because we are afraid? Is it okay to torture if we disagree with someone else? If we do not act, we are sending a message to the future, that inhumanity can be justified. We need to set the example and stand by our moral standards, torture by no means is acceptable. The embedded video is Spencer

Tracy’s verdict in the most oustanding movie, Judgement at Nuremburg. It sends a message to us Americans today….It is very much worth the watch. “A country is what it stands for, what it stands for when standing for something is difficult. This is what we stand for, justice, truth, the value of a single human being.” Spencer Tracy, Judgement at Nuremburg.

Big Obama Brother takes on Creditor Bullies

big-brother1Big brother takes on a whole new meaning today when the President sat down with the credit card CEO’s. That is of course who you see as “Big brother”.

 

For years I have been complaining about credit card company practices, despite my own debt I had the nerve to point the finger back to the creditor who never really seemed to want to release me of my debt. I paid off my debt several times and one time over the phone to Capital One.  I believe I heard a few sniffles and cries.

 

I have in my book compared the credit card industry to big brother because they seemed to have their greedy, pointed finger on the pulse of my finances. Heck, I believe the credit card companies had a better handle on my finances then I did.  They checked on my payments with other creditors. They checked my status with all my utilities and they somehow knew all the places I shopped. Yikes! I didn’t need to worry about my identity being stolen, the credit card companies were creating my identity-I am a fashionista debtor.

 

Although many of other ideologies find the government in the role of big brother, I invite the government as my big brother. To me the government is big brother who is there to protect me from bullies.  “You wanna mess with the consumer you gotta deal with Big Obama Brother.”  Yo bro, yeah, yeah-Capital One they are the ones who have been charging me an outrageous interest rates. They are the ones who are changing the billing cycles. Oh yeah and charging me compound interest! Take care of them Big Brother. Don’t you just love it?

 

So, what was the outcome? Who knows, because none of the credit card companies had anything to say and no legislation was signed. Perhaps the credit corporations had trouble speaking due to a proverbial fat lip or black eye.  But it is hard for me to feel sorry for the credit card companies. Visa last year spent 1.7 million dollars in lobbying the government.  I’m not quite sure how much money Capital One spends on advertising, but I’m sure it is a very pretty penny. Look, consumers don’t want cute commercials; we want fair practices and the ability to pay down the debt without astronomical interest rates.

 

Stay tuned- one thing for sure, the rules of credit cards and credit card debt will be changing dramatically. Old rules do not apply and apparently the fine print will be getting larger! Yeah, we won’t fall asleep like Larry Summers while reading.

“Tortured” by the media

All Right, I’ll be honest I spent three hours watching MSNBC and most of their coverage was in regards to the torture memos-our government’s involved in water boarding and to me most upsetting is the “walling.” The Bush administration was looking to find a link between Iraq and Al-Qaida, so since intelligence couldn’t prove a link, they tortured people into making up a link. And then no doubt playing on Fox is Dick Cheney and Karl Rove’s defense on the torture memos. It’s okay. It’s a big story. It is the story of the day and the story for the entire country. Regardless of the spin, it is a story that deemed reporting.

Some time ago I switched from CNN to MSNBC instead of being annoyed by the superficiality of Anderson Cooper’s “news” show. But after three hours of MSNBC; one hour of being screamed at by Chris Matthews, an hour of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow I had my fill of substantive news. I thought what harm could come from switching the channel to CNN?

What struck me senseless when I switched to Anderson Cooper was his lead story was the Craigslist Killer. A good 10 minutes spent on the Craigslist killer. Not a word at all on the torture memos, none-nope, no way. Now let reiterate, it is becoming apparent that our country was involved in war crimes however CNN and Anderson Cooper with their raw, honest reporting decided their top story was the Craigslist killer. And not just a report from Randi Kaye, but a follow up story on the history of sociopaths in America by Erica Hill. Yes, instead of reporting on our nation’s potential war crimes, let’s go back twenty years in history to talk about Ted Bundy. Now that’s news I heard in high school.

10 minutes of AC360 was all I could take until I turned to a rerun of Keith Olbermann, because I rather see substantive news twice then superficial and frivolous news once. And congratulations to Fox News-you have just risen above CNN with substance in the opinion of this garsh darn liberal-at least you are reporting on the torture memos.

But just when I thought I was safe on MSNBC, would you believe CNN placed an advertisement on the cable channel that broadcasts MNBC for the AC360 show. Yes, half way through the rerun of Keith Olbermann was a CNN advertisement for Anderson Cooper’s raw, honest reporting-how pathetic for CNN and Anderson Cooper. That would be like Keith Olbermann advertising his show on Bill O’Reilly air time, or Sean Hannity advertising his show on Comedy Central during the Colbert Report.

Here’s the bottom line and why we are tortured by the media-watching CNN is like banging my head against the wall and I am drowned in superficiality.  Here’s an idea for CNN, instead of pathetically advertising on your competitor’s airtime, produce a compelling and intelligent news show. You’re not raw and honest when you’re top stories are sociopaths and dimwitted beauty pageant contestants.

But I digress, the news isn’t news. It is entertainment for the audience to whom you are reporting.