"Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?", said Special Counsel for the Army Joseph N. Welch to Senator Joe McCarthy, thus ending the career of one of the most despicable men in 20th Century American politics.
A man, who, in the same exchange, was accurately condemned for his "cruelty and recklessness". And a man who was, in retrospect, a rank amateur at both forms of villainy.
It turns out the right wing is occasionally correct on a point, just as a blind squirrel occasionally find a nut. In this case, their contention that the private sector outperforms the government is right on. In the US these days, corporate indecency beats governmental abuse every time out of the box.
Here's the proof:
Yes, you read that right. Fees from people withdrawing unemployment benefits. Collapse the economy, then dun the victims. In other words charge people for the privilege of being robbed.
Bank of America may have ditched its controversial debit-card fees for voluntary customers, but people on unemployment benefits who are forced to use the bank because it has to contract to administer their payments, there are plenty of fees in store. But hey, they can afford it -- a $264 unemployment check has lots of stretch in it, right?
To withdraw her benefits, Busby, 33, uses a Bank of America prepaid debit card on which the state deposits her funds...
...She could drive north to Columbia, the state capital, and use a Bank of America ATM there. But that entails a 50 mile drive, cutting into her gas budget. So Busby visits the ATMs in her area and begrudgingly accepts the fees, which reach as high as five dollars per transaction. She estimates that she has paid at least $350 in fees to tap her unemployment benefits.
Great strategy, I'll give them that. Try to play nice with those who may vote with their feet, as the vast numbers who have just joined credit unions did, but keep screwing the captive customers, who are also those most in need of extra cash.
This is obscene. And look for more contemptible activity down the line. From Smart Money:
Here are some items to look out for the next time you receive a bank statement or other communication from your bank (you should read everything your bank sends you):
Hikes to current fees: Be on the look out for increases to existing fees. ATM fees might go up by $1, or you could see a small increase in your monthly checking account fee. For free checking accounts, you might become subject to an activity minimum, or a balance requirement. These small changes don’t make as big an impact in the media, but they can affect you.
New, smaller fees: Perhaps you are going to be (quietly) charged a small fee for paper statements. If yo make transactions via phone, a fee might be added. These new fees are likely to be small and somewhat unnoticeable, but banks are hoping they will add up.
Credit card changes: Instead of hiking bank fees, some institutions are likely to look for revenue increases from other products, like credit cards. An interest rate increase to your credit card issued by your bank, or perhaps the addition of an annual fee, might be considered in order to help raise more revenue.
Reduced perks: Sometimes, banks look to boost positive cash flow by cutting back on perks. You might not see an increased fee, but banks are increasingly getting rid of debit card reward programs. Other perks, like free notary services, might also disappear for bank consumers.
Lower deposit yields: And, of course, in order to boost revenue some banks might decide to reduce the yield they pay on deposits. Interest yields are being cut on savings accounts, money market accounts, HSAs, CDs and interest checking accounts.
In the end, banks are for-profit businesses, looking to make money. You have to be on your toes constantly if you expect to stay ahead, and get the most value for your money.
There's more to that last line than meets the eye. The mega-banks are more than just for-profit business, they are publicly traded corporations. And, as I've said before, greed is the fiduciary responsibility of any corporate board.
The board of a publicly held company must act, at all times, to increase shareholder value or else be thrown out of their jobs And they will do so:
1. By any means within the law
2. By extralegal means, if net shareholder value increases even after legal fees have been paid and fines have been imposed
3. By changing the law via their lobbying activities
This is built into the corporate system; there is really no way around it. Failure to increase value exposes board and management to suits by shareholders, and they want to cover themselves.
So you will see continued bending, breaking and changing of the law, without any consideration of the consequences to our society, as long as corporate powers are calling the shots. This why they must be regulated, and it is why they will always fight such regulation.
And if someone willing to put a family out of a home in the name of profit doesn't deserve to be put out of a job in the name of justice, I don't know who does.