Monday, December 22, 2008

491 It's the Money

491 It's the Money

Time was you walked into a bank to get change of a 20 and you walked out with change of a 20,  a cup of free coffee, a souvenir ball point pen, a couple of pieces of hard candy and a mortgage loan.  Heady days.  Money flowed freely.  Well, not freely, but cheaply.

We thought those days were over, but they aren't.  Well, maybe for YOU they are.  But not for everyone.

Today, when you go into a bank to break a 20, you come out with $19.90 after they deduct the service charge.  If you want a loan, they'll likely ask you things like your ability to pay it back (they'll check what you say,) and they'll want to know why you want the money -- how long you think you're going to need it and, "oh, by the way, it would be helpful if you moved your no-interest checking account to us."

The good old days are gone for you -- but not for your bank.  It's just gotten a boatload of your tax money to keep itself stable.  But, as in the good old days, it's not telling you how able it is to repay it, and it's not telling you how it's spending your money.

News reporters have been questioning the banks which received bailout money and none is replying.  Things like "we don't do dollar-in-dollar-out accounting" and "we're haven't made that public and we won't,"  fill the reporters' reports.  Maybe we peasants have to do things like that.  But not the banks.  Say what?  You're using public money but not telling the public where it's going -- or not going?  

Do we really need to know how every penny is spent, and would we know what to do with the information if we had it?  Yes and yes.  Do we want to know whether the money is being lent or hoarded or used to pay dividends to stockholders or bonuses to the CEO?  You bet we do.

It's not the principle of the thing, it's the money.


--Columnist/professor Paul Krugman has an interesting take on the Madoff scandal.  He says Madoff isn't that much different from many of the other over-paid, money-losing investment bankers and managers.  But, he says, Bernie just skipped a couple of intermediate steps -- like actually investing.

--The malls were jumping during this last weekend before Christmas and Hanukkah. And some people are carrying what appear to be purchases in store-logo shopping bags.  But maybe they just brought them into the malls from home so they'd look prosperous to the other non-buyers.

--After a day of malling, what could be better than a little gathering for drinks and snacks at the employers' house?  This:  a little gathering for drinks and snacks at the employers' house followed by a nap on their living room couch.

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(sm)
(C)WJR 2008

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