Bank of America is subject to Capitalism.

Bank of America announced yesterday that it would NOT be going ahead with its previously announced $5 debit card use fee. They say they listened to their customers. Damned rights they did. They listened and they watched a lot of them take their money elsewhere.

The news that BofA wasn’t going ahead with the new fee came after the nation’s largest bank JP Morgan Chase as well as Wells Fargo Banks announced last week that they would abandon plans for these fee add-ons. They saw the writing on the wall and didn’t want to further enrage the public (i.e. their customers).

In an Associated Press article from October 7 it was pointed out that Credit Unions were again reaping the benefits of these new bank fees. The country’s largest credit union, the Navy Federal Credit Union, said new account openings over the weekend  following BofA’s new fee announcement were 23 percent higher than normal. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee says roughly 51,000 people have signed up to move their money out of big banks on “National Bank Transfer Day” this Saturday. They also said 21k of those who have signed up will be moving their money from Bank of America.

Of course abandoning this $5 fee doesn’t mean BofA, or Wells or Chase for that matter, won’t be attempting to pick your pocket somewhere else. In fact BofA already raised its fee for its basic checking account from $8.95 to $12 last Spring. They’re hurting. They need the money. Bank of America’s stock price was down to $6.71 at the time of this writing. That’s from a high of $54.77 five years ago this month, and a post-recession high of over $18.00. Their January 2008 purchase of Countrywide Financial Corp looking increasingly like the wrong thing to do. Old Countrywide mortgage loans are STILL exploding on BofA and on our country.

But the obvious good news with this retraction of the proposed fee and for the time being no new replacement fee is that Capitalism works. This is exactly how it is supposed to happen. And guess what no Government intervention was necessary. 18th Century writer, philosopher and economist Adam Smith had it right in his seminal book The Wealth of Nations when he described the invisible hand that guides a country’s economy. Government needs to stay out and things will work out. It’s in each individual company’s and corporation’s best interest to serve the public, their clients, for to do otherwise will only hurt their bottom line. And growing the bottom line is most important of all.

Anyone with eyes wide open will see that Government interference in the form of the Dodd-Frank Banking Finance law forced banks to impose many of these new fees by restricting how much banks could charge merchants for the use of debit and credit cards (I bet a lot of you didn’t know that we, the business owners, also pay the banks every time plastic is used). Banks, as well as other companies will seek revenues and if government takes away one form of income, they’ll just go elsewhere. And the ones who will pay the real price is the consumer. Thank you again Democrats. Every time you try to protect us we get the shaft.

Nonetheless, take homage in the fact that your outrage moved big bad BofA, Chase, Wells Fargo and others from imposing THIS fee. You the consumer do have choices. You can go to a neighborhood bank or Credit Union you can spend your money elsewhere, or choose not to spend at all. Think of the Occupy Wall Street protesters and their claims of big corporations having way too much control. Let this be their lesson that the big corporations only have as much control as we give them. And the one, and possibly the only thing I’ll agree with OWS about, is that its long past time that we stop giving the big corporations so much power. But we don’t need government to do anything. We need to take responsibility for ourselves, our habits, and our spending.

But, of course, this comes from a guy who’s had his money in a credit union for some 15 years.

Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.

The difference between Republicans and Democrats.

This article was published elsewhere previously. It is edited and made more timely for publishing now. – M Schuett

 

Michael Schuett in New York

M Schuett at Empire St Bldg

“The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats are willing to give up a little freedom in order to achieve fairness; while Republicans are willing to give up a little fairness in order to achieve freedom.”- George Will, Conservative columnist and commentator
Every tax and every law written is an impingement on individual liberty. By definition if you are required to do or to give something by force or threat of negative consequences your liberty has been diminished. And while being a citizen of a nation founded for the first time in history on the concept of respecting individual liberty and democratic (small d) rule loosing ones liberty ought to not be taken lightly. Lately I think it has been.

However, it goes without saying that in order to live happily in a society free from anarchy some surrender of our individual liberties is a requirement. And thus we come to the wedge of which George Will was referring at the top of this writing. When does Government go too far in governing? When does an individual’s right to liberty become TOO detrimental to society as a whole? And where do you stand?

Do you think it’s some kind of accident or freak of nature that we keep bouncing back and forth throughout our nation’s history between Democratic and Republican Presidents and Congress? It’s no accident. It’s a reflection of who we are. Roughly half of us are or lean Republican or Conservative (big C); while the other half is or leans Democrat or Liberal (some would rather I write “Progressive”, to which I respond “Whatever. Call yourselves whatever you wish. A rose by any other name…”) And really the other side is not evil. Though for most of our 234 year old existence many have continued to paint the other side as doing the work of the devil. I think it comes down to what you value.

I like George Will’s definition of Republican vs. Democrat because I think it’s mostly accurate while not intentionally offensive to either side. But I think there is a more clear values oriented definition of America’s two party system that makes the distinctions plainer. Before giving you my definition lets all recognize a truth. Most of us are what we are because of who are parents are and what their beliefs are or were. By no means is this “truth” 100% carved out of granite. But it might define 70-80 percent of us politically. And if I’m right, what does that say about who we are, what our beliefs are, and for whom we vote? It say’s what voter turnout percentages have screamed for decades. Most of us don’t care. Most elections are lucky if 50 percent of eligible voters vote. Again, in terms of literal definition that means MOST of us don’t care.

Being Conservative or being Liberal in my opinion comes down to whether you value an individual’s right to liberty more or whether you value a specified community’s benefit more. If you value society’s well-being over that of a single individual in that society you are more likely to be a Liberal and/or Democrat. The Conservatives have a tougher task because in standing up for an individuals right Conservatives are repeatedly labeled as advocating selfishness. If you are a caring and loving person of course you would advocate society over individual benefits, right? I say, “Hogwash!’. To advocate society’s or a community’s well-being over that of any individual in that group is the height of arrogance and promotes tyranny.

Promoting community benefit promotes the idea that you know best. It says I know better than you what’s best for you and everybody else in your community. And since you are in effect children we will tell you what to do in order to not hurt yourself or your neighbors. And in order that you grow up and live your life to the level that we would call “the fullest”. Again, because we know better. Ladies and gentleman I give you the definition of Liberal. I also grant you that not a single Liberal thinks of themselves in quite that way.

I laugh when I hear Democrats criticizing Republicans by calling them “Do nothing Republicans”. Dear Lord if only it were true. Democrats just don’t get it. Doing “nothing” is the heart of Conservatism. For doing “Anything” involves one more law, or tax or infringement on liberty. Often doing nothing is what is best, is what is called for; is worth defending.

I believe in individuality. I believe in self-determination. And I believe in selfishness. “Ah ha!” you say. “You reveal your evil intent”. On the contrary, as stated by 18th Century writer Adam Smith in his monolithic book, “The Wealth of Nations” a person acting selfishly will by instinct act toward the benefit of community as a whole because to do otherwise injures the individual’s selfish interests. We have to act in the interest of others for any number of reasons, but primarily if we don’t act in the interest of others while serving our selfish needs nobody else will act in our interest. Like Henry Ford defined in building his Model T at the start of the 20th Century. He believed he had to pay his assembly line workers enough so that they could afford to buy his product. Conversely he also believed he had to build a car that a working “man” could afford. Such a view toward serving the “common man” made Ford an extremely wealthy man, and fulfilled his every SELFISH need and desire.

I fondly remember previous employers who all found me a good hard worker but hard to control. I never thought I needed to be “controlled”. But I still remember my one time team leader telling me she was the only one (of other Team Leaders) who could control me (I wish I could go into greater detail…but I won’t). I was always best when left to my own devises. It’s my overwhelming desire for freedom of thought and freedom of choice that led me to be an independent business owner, answerable to no one but the man in the mirror. And our country is loaded with individuals like me who don’t answer to authority as readily or willingly as do others. And it’s our individuality and right to it that needs to be protected. For if my right to speak my mind is ever quashed, yours will be next. The ever-changing flux of that which is popular dictates it so. I still remember news article in the 1980s detailing the coming third “Ice Age”. Not something Global Warming advocates will even acknowledge today.

The Health Care reform law, commonly known as Obamacare, has me and so many others nervous or outright scared to death. Our individuality is threatened. Without debating specific aspects one over riding undeniable fact about what is happening with it becoming law is that our Government will grow in size and scope tremendously. In doing so my liberty again is chipped away further. And I believe deeply.

Isn’t it sad, in my view, that the rights of the individual weren’t kept foremost in mind throughout the debate. Claims by House Democrats that a Government option was necessary in order to create competition flies in the face of competitions definition. There are 306-million Americans. If the health care industry and the health insurance industry had to actually win the precious dollars of each and every one of us individuals you would then have competition and you would then have affordable health care. Instead we have a debate over health care coverage and its cost, rather than a debate over health care and its cost.

As blasphemous as this sounds, WE ARE NOT ALL EQUAL. Efforts to force us to be equal will only force us into George Orwell’s nightmare “Animal Farm” where the pigs stated without hesitation or fear of consequence that “Some of us are more equal than the others”. The fact that we’re all created equal doesn’t change what we become. Some people and activities are valued more than others. Those who entertain us are valued much more than those who educate us. For reasons that pass understanding those who haul away our garbage are valued considerably less than those who sit in Congress and create additional refuse. The point is an individualized health care system would take into consideration our differences and aim to serve us as individuals instead of as a community.

And when I’m under the scalpel, on the operating table, in a hospital I want my individuality the foremost thought of my care takers…society be damned. That’s my selfish wish. And I defy anyone to embrace anything less.

Comments are welcome. Thanks for visiting.

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