Getting even

Used to happen about once a week. Still does, about once a month: I get a how-can-you-say-no offer from some large financial institution. You know what I mean. The kind that says, “Hey SOG old man, wouldn’t you like a new car, maybe a beach-front condo? How ’bout a vacation in Hungary? Can do!!!”

All I need do is sign one of the handy checks they’ve sent me. Not to worry, all is copacetic. (Of course, the interest rate is around 20%, jumping to 30% if I’m late with a payment, but, what the hey, do it.)

So, suppose I do it. And then I vanish into the Hungarian hills. Who will make good on that $18,500 which National Bank of Friendship and Goodfellow Trust gave me?

Account managers at NBFGT, who shoved all that cash in my greedy palms, will they pay up?

Not likely.

Or the stockholders of Sleek and Slipper Hedge Fund, will they feel the pain?

Ar you kidding?

Know who’s going to lose?

The answer is neatly encapsulated in an AP story today, about a $200 million scam run by… well, it’s not clear who ran it. But the official money-shot quote:

The U.S. attorney in Newark, Paul Fishman, described an intricate Jersey City-based con that … used at least 7,000 fake identities to obtain more than 25,000 credit cards…. Investigators documented $200 million in losses, but the figure could rise, he said.

“Through their greed and arrogance,” Fishman said, the people arrested harm credit card companies, consumers and “the rest of us who have to deal with increased interest rates and fees because of the money sucked out of the system by criminals.”

So, the eighteen-five I ran off with will be paid back by you, my friends, that’s who.

You may not even notice it. See, Goodfellow Trust only has to complain to the feds about their terrible, unexpected losses, and ask that they be allowed an extra, say, an extra one cent a month on each account, to balance out that rogue SOG who ran off the the hills. And 12 cents a year from each of, say, two million customers, comes to only… hmm… comes to twenty thousand dollars a month. At that rate, they GT gets back my take in about four weeks flat.

I’m only sorry I took off with such a small pile.


4 thoughts on “Getting even

    1. The (unintended) gist of the AP article was that financial institutions have — or have access to — so much money that they don’t even bother carefully to keep track of it, or the people to whom they loan it. This is one of our most confusing phenomena: the extraordinary amount of wealth (or wealth-like stuff, including oppressive debt) in the world. One of those things I find myself puzzling over and writing about excessively, as here and here.

  1. Hey Phil,

    Good one. It’s pretty upsetting when you think about it. I used to have job as a sales rep for a credit card company, talking about how the first 6 months were interest free, everyone got so excited just listening to that, nobody paid attention to how much the interest rose after six months. The job got to me after a while and I quit, but the point is, someone else took over, promising temporary low interest rates and tons of money.

    I have one single rule- if you don’t have the money, don’t buy. Living within your means seems prudent enough don’t you think?

    1. More than prudent, it’s essential. (I know, I know, credit is one of the engines of the capitalist system. It is, however, the one which often spins us out of control.)
      That advice, alas, works only for those who CAN live within their means. The outrageously obvious path to cosmic sanity is one which leads to some levelling of wealth, so that millions are are not shut out of liveable means.
      I’m not for confiscatory taxation; some will always have more than others. But I’m REALLY opposed to excessive tax breaks for those who can afford sleazy lawyers and accountants (and legislators).
      Did anyone besides me notice, during the 2012 election campaign, how Romney allowed as how he’d paid something like 13 percent in taxes? Thirteen percent! I don’t know anyone who pays that little.
      But then, I don’t know any multi-millionaires.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s