Friday, July 17, 2009

More things I just don't understand.

So I'm at Happy Harbor the other day, as I am for roughly 50% of my other days these days, and a conversation between a customer and HH owner Jay "The Shepherd" Bardyla turns to which method of payment costs the store the least. Which I thought was darned odd.

It turns out that there are costs for the store associated with pretty much every method of payment. Credit cards take a percentage of every transaction. Debit card transactions cost a flat fee. Given that both those transactions have some technical requirements, I can almost deal with that, though it still strikes me as a little odd, as I myself make monthly payments to the bank for the privilege of being able to not actually have real money in my wallet.

What surprised me more was the discovery that it costs Happy Harbor money just to deposit cash in the bank, in an account which, if I understand this correctly (and I have trouble believing I do, just because it's, well, it's completely bat$#!& insane) doesn't actually accrue interest for the account holder.


-One way or another, banks are charging their clients for pretty much every transaction they make*,

-If the people who receive money get it in any form other than cash and/or do anything with that cash other than spend it, the banks are charging them, too, and

-Well, there really isn't anything else, but once again I'm really kind of surprised 1 out of 5 Canadian lampposts isn't adorned with the dangling corpse of a bank executive, who've all been party to a system that has, in the twenty years I've had a bank account, managed the neat trick of making things both more expensive and less efficient, while still managing to convince the general public that nationalizing the banks is somehow a bad idea.

It is to weep.

(*They've also put up all sorts of barriers and roadblocks preventing clients from accessing that money, for instance, putting holds on cheques for days, weeks, sometimes months at a time, claiming it takes that long for one computer to ask another computer if the cheque will clear, something that I have a hard time believing.)



"The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."

If you're in a particularly good mood and want to cure it, you could do worse than reading The Great American Bubble Machine, Matt Taibbi's excellent Rolling Stone article on the way Goldman-Sachs has consistently managed to profit at the expense of its clients, taxpayers, and pretty much everyone in the whole entire world for the last 90 or so years.

Of special interest to me is the last couple pages, which expose how current, seemingly positive moves on the environment are going to benefit GS and their ilk as much or more than they are the ecosystem. I suppose someone was going to find a way to wring money out of not absolutely ruining the world for future generations of humanity, but I really wish it wasn't going to be these particular scumbags.

If seven pages is a bit more than you want to bite off at the moment but you're still jonesing to get your economic meltdown rage on, check out this post at Taibbi's Taibblog, which outlines the various ways Goldman-Sachs' obscene $3.44 billion second quarter profits come at the expense of the United States taxpayer.

I don't much mind people who make stuff other than profit making a profit. It's people who make nothing to make a profit that really drive me berserk. At least, they're what's driving me berserk this morning.


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