Pillage and plunder: the “Free Market” route to economic disaster

Pillage: v.  the act of looting or plundering especially in war
n. something taken as booty

Plunder: v. to take by force or wrongfully, to steal or loot

According to the news, you and I – and every other man, woman and child in America – are going to spend the foreseeable future paying directly and indirectly for corporate transgressions, malfeasance, and overweening greed.

Depending on how you calculate it, the cost to us could be in the trillions of dollars. Not only that, but we’re losing our jobs and our homes, our retirement savings have shriveled, small businesses are forced to close, and our governments – right down to the local level – are unable to fund the basic services we had taken for granted.

We’ve been pillaged and plundered.  And we’re pissed.

Sure, some saw it coming, but those lone voices in the wilderness went unheeded. What could they do when meaningful regulation of big business had disappeared?  Regulation, loathed by Republicans since the Time Of Reagan, and brought to new heights of abhorrence under the Current Occupant, was deemed antithetical to the Sacred Free Market.

I have ZERO pity for CitiGroup, the latest to cry wolf. Those scumbags pushed their credit on folks they KNEW wouldn’t be able to pay.

Case in point: my son. When he was away at college, the kids in his dorm got invitations for free pizza on a certain night a a local pizza joint.  Being a college kid who was always up for free food, he went, only to learn that he’d only get his pizza after he filled out an application for a Citi credit card.

Thinking: “What the hell, I won’t use the card, but I would like some pizza,” he filled out the application, using his home address (my address).  A few days later, I got an envelope containing his new credit card with a $5,000 credit limit. A couple of days after, another one with a different number arrived. $5,000 more credit. This for a student with NO income.

I called to ask him what he wanted me to do with the cards and he said to destroy them (a less prudent  young person would have kept them…), which I did.

Then the pouty letters from Citi started coming.  “Did you get the card? How come you’re not using it?…”

After a few weeks without a response the letters upped the ante: “We’re disappointed that you’re not using your card, so we’re giving you a FREE starter credit of $20 to use towards your first purchase on your new Citi card…”   Now, $20 is a lot of money to a college student. If that offer hadn’t been intercepted by me, he might have bitten at that point.

Eventually the letters stopped.

For some context on the current economic disaster as part of a capitalistic pattern, check out Naomi Klein’s book, The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of  Disaster Capitalism.  It’s about how disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, the World Trade Center attacks, and now the current meltdown in Detroit and Wall Street are perfect opportunities for governments and corporations to screw the little guy in the name of fixing the mess (which they often created).

Sorry. This is a downer post. But I am pissed off.

4 responses to “Pillage and plunder: the “Free Market” route to economic disaster

  1. Credit card companies are big evil money- suckers. And I say that after having experienced quite a range of credit card experience. As a single mom with limited income, I was overwhelmed by the lure of credit, with all the card offers piling into my mail box. It took me years to get everything paid off and reclaim my credit rating. And all the while, the offers for new cards kept coming in. On the business side, I see the hidden cost of credit, as businesses have to raise prices to cover the ever rising charges we pay to the credit card companies. And I see the arrogance of the credit card pushers, as they tell merchants that they are not allowed to set limits to credit purchases, or to add a surcharge when a customer wants to make a large purchase by credit card. I’d like to make one small change to the system: have the purchaser pay the costs, not the seller. If every time someone whipped out their card to buy something, they saw an immediate 2 or 3% charge added to the item, it just might make them think : do I really need to charge this, or should I wait until I can pay cash? And then the savers and cash payers wouldn’t be subsidizing the chargers buying habit.

  2. When Congress passed the execrable bankruptcy bill last year, giving the credit card companies a free pass to keep screwing us, I saw red.

    And now they’re crying for a bailout! I weep crocodile tears for them, but I real tears for us chump taxpayers who have to pay for their greed.

  3. And you should be pissed off – I’m surprised that people aren’t rioting in the streets.

    I haven’t had a credit card for years and finally feel glad that I learned (the hard way during the last recession) to live within my means. But even though this probably won’t affect me as much as some, the whole arrogance and illogical way the ‘fat cats’ have behaved is unforgivable.

    We are all paying for their stupidity and sheer greed – it’s so unfair! Other than running amok, however, I don’t really see what we can do about it.

    ‘They’ will be wailing that they only have one yacht instead of two.

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