By Susan J. Douglas, In These Times. Posted February 26, 2005.
Credit cards manage to further impoverish the poor, the working classes and women and are rife with hidden scams that benefit the financial institutions at our expense. The Bush version of Social Security will be just like this.
As the president and his corporate patrons seek to turn the management of Americans' retirements – a.k.a., our "golden years" – over to those highly trustworthy, humanitarian types on Wall Street, we should look at another model of how corporate America helps people manage their finances – the credit card companies – to get a glimpse of where we are headed.
Here are some of my recent favorite credit card gambits: The amount of time my credit card company gives me to turn around and pay the bill has shrunk to about two and a half weeks – otherwise, I'm late. The late fee I pay even if the check arrives one day late has, within two years, gone from about $20 to about $40. They have begun posting a payment due date that is a Sunday – when, of course, they don't do business – and if the check arrives Monday, you are docked the late fee plus all the interest. The interest rates, given what the rest of us get paid on our savings accounts and CDs, would make Shylock blush and certainly revive the word "usurious." Dare to miss a payment, and the company may raise your interest rate up to an outrageous 25 percent. And let's not forget that the financial institutions that issue credit cards are major Washington lobbyists and, thus, virtually unregulated....