Friday, June 18, 2010


The following appeared in yesterday's USA Today. The issue being discussed is the regulation of credit card companies charging vendors "Swipe Fees" for each use of a credit card in their establishment. The writer is Edward L.Yingling who is president and CEO of the American Bankers Association. He's against such regulation.

The amendment would have a dramatic impact on things that many of us take for granted. For example, interchange revenue allows banks to offer basic banking services at little or no charge, particularly to low-income customers. An erosion of this revenue stream would lead to cuts in these important services. States increasingly distribute benefits, such as child support and unemployment, using prepaid debit card programs. Officials from at least 15 states have publicly expressed opposition to the amendment because it would undermine these programs and increase taxpayer costs.

So let's see now. We shouldn't regulate credit card companies because it will hurt poor people! And by extension, any tax, fee or other obligation (like cleaning up the Gulf, BP) would also effect poor people since the corporations will just pass the cost down to their customers. How do we know that? Simple. An American corporation's only duty, it seems, is to enrich its stockholders.

This particular argument against regulation or tax increases works for the political right in this country because, 1. Nobody likes higher prices and 2. The American electorate has the attention span of a puppy. Thus, even after all of the many bad things done to us by corporate negligence and greed, we'd rather blame the government for interfering with that corporations god given right to make all of the obscene profits it can than maybe ask the nice CEO man to, you know, not poison us all in the process.

Think about it for a second. It works for everything. Cap and Trade to help move us away from our oil dependence? That will just increase costs to polluters and they'll just pass that along to the consumer. Electric bills gone wild! Regulate deep water oil production? Nope, that just leads to higher gasoline prices. Poor people won't be able to heat their homes, oh my! But were does it stop?

The Queen of the Frontier and I have owned some restaurants in our day and we can attest to the fact that health inspections cost, both in lost time during, but also in time and money keeping the place clean and the refrigeration equipment working. If the city had decided to double the number of health inspections to help fight food born illness, I guess we would have had to raise prices. Oh no, those low income types that came into the restaurant won't be able to afford a burger. No more health inspections!

And we all know how expensive medical equipment is these days. We sure don't want to make those companies go through inspections and regulation. They'll raise their prices and small town hospitals won't be able to afford that new Whatever Scanner they need and poor people won't get their whatevers scanned and they might DIE! Hey, this is fun.

But if it works for new taxes or regulations it must also work on current taxes and regulations. If we just didn't tax or regulate businesses at all, they could lower their prices and help poor people. That's it. What a concept. I've figured out the real goal of conservatives and the tea party folks. They want to help the poor by making products cheaper for corporations to make and sell. What a truly noble goal. And if you believe that, I've got some Gulf front property I can let you have cheap.

No comments: