Monday, October 5, 2009

Good Morning, Everyone. The weather has settled into another rut--cool with sunny spells alternated with clouds or rain. We are settling into our cool weather patterns--getting the windows covered with plastic, wearing sweats, etc.

I caught this little piece this morning on MSNBC. The evening news mentioned the controversy--barely--within the last couple of week. The credit card companies are right that the merchants don't want to pay the fees which seem small enough if you don't dig below the surface. I worked for a small business (and I do mean small--3 employees including the owner) a couple of years ago and that fee to the credit card company for those transactions took a lot of the profit margin. If we tried to put a dollar limit on purchases with a credit card that would make sure the purchase was large enough to ensure a profit above the fee, we were told it was illegal. Damned if you do, Damned if you don't. I can understand the credit card issuing companies wanting to cover their costs and make a bit of money on the transactions. However, how often have we read about how profitable these cards are and how many banks relied on these fees to pad their bottom lines? I would say that the characterization of some of the executives as white-collar pirates is not far off. Let me add another perspective. I use a debit card only that is tied to my checking account which carries no fees so long as I have no overdrafts. I would deeply resent it if I were charged a fee to use the money in a free checking account. If I were charged for that convenience I would go back to using checks or cash.

Here is another entry in the 'business behaving badly' file. Frankly, I am not just outraged by the cost to a small town for the clean up, or the back taxes which will probably never be collected, or the several years of difficulties the town had with this company. The waste of all that meat was absolutely criminal. But these pirates will not likely be hanged or forced to walk the plank. Damn!!!

Then there is this little story. Did anyone else notice the jobs that are going begging? All of them require at least two to four years of college level training--in those specific fields. A bachelor's degree in english or history won't cut it. How many of the however many millions of unemployed have that training. Does anyone remember the little story from Elkhart a couple of weeks ago detailing the dilemma of those who have gone in for retraining of trying to finance that retraining? For most of those who manage to get through they will be up to their eyeballs in debt, what they had before as well as what they accumulate for the training. Another damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

Tom Englehardt has provided an interesting post by Max Bivens today. The sarcasm just drips off his writing. I liked this quote: "The entire Gross Domestic Product -- the number reflecting all wealth generated in this nation for this year -- is only $14.1 trillion. So whether the sum of our money that's now their money is $3 trillion (1/5th of all wealth generated in America in a year) or $4.7 trillion (1/3rd of all wealth generated in America in a year), it still means that, for a big chunk of the year, every single one of us was working for Goldman Sachs et al." Damn, I didn't even get to spend a penny of it. Never even saw a check.

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