Read the title again. And again. Feel anything at all? And that IS billion with a 'b'. So NOW do you feel anything? If you don't you're probably on the side of big business, if you do, you have a heart. Now don't get me wrong, I have no problems with companies making massive profits, none at all, my only issue is when they end up screwing people to get it. And this is one of those cases.
Read this article and see if you feel anything yet. Its only 10% of customers that are paying this $38.5 billion tab. The majority of those who are poor. Ya wonder why the poor stay poor? Well this may be one reason.
I don't know if you'll remember a US senator named John McCain, he ran for president against Obama. He lost, which is why you may not remember him. Well McCain is rich, well his wife is rich, and not just, oh they have a few million dollars and can retire comfortably, they are rich rich. Why does this matter? Well apparently they can run up hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit card bills, but not pay any interest at all. So while the poor pay interest rates from 18%-30+% some rich don't pay any interest at all, they get free loans from private companies. So its more like the poor are really making up the interest the rich aren't paying.
Do all really wealthy people get these breaks? I don't know, but they do get better treatment with virtually every other avenue of life from tax breaks to tax shelters to better treatment in the justice system, so its not hard to imagine they get far better treatment than the poor do.
The poor are constantly beeing fleeced by companies all the time. Not only through payday loans, but through fees upon fees upon fees from banks and credit cards and utilities. You go to pay a bill and you can get charged for that, specially if its over the phone. We just paid $8 for the privilege of paying our trash bill by phone. Isn't that nice?
This even crosses into healthcare where in Michigan Blue Cross is going to raise rates by 22%, they wanted to raise rates by 56%, but regulators said no, but 22% was ok. Their reasoning? They needed to cover $133 million dollar loss (2008) in its individual health insurance policies. Yet it currently has a $2.4 billion surplus, so why are they raising rates? Cause they can, and really who is there to protect the poor and the small businesses this is going to effect? Apparently the regulators aren't there to help us. Or maybe Blue Cross is taking a page out of oil company's books and partying with regulators and plying them with alchohol, drugs and prostitutes.
Rates have been increasing for years, the healthcare industry saw profits rise 170% from 2003 to 2007. At the same time we saw more and more people without health insurance. How is this possible? By raising rates on the people that still have insurnace.
Back to banks. My wife & I used to be with Washington Mutual (now JP Morgan Chase), until our account was hacked and then we were treated horribly by Wamu. My wife logged onto our account one day to find all kinds of 'electronic checks' and lots of overdraft fees on top of it. I think we had about six 'electronic checks' that took money out, and about 9 overdraft charges. Well we called up and asked what these electronic checks were for, and when told we must have bought something we cried foul and said we dispute those and the overdraft charges. (not all, just the ones that would have been valid due to bill payments coming out) In the end we were over $1,000 in the hole because of the whole thing. Well Wamu treated us like criminals instead of victims. They finally did admit that our account was hacked (oddly enough the hacking occured just as they laid off thousands of workers, somehow I don't think this is coincidence), however they said some of the charges were valid (bullshit), and refused to pay back the overdraft charges that resulted until we cleared up the account. Even then they would not guarentee they would pay back the overdraft charges that were caused because our account was hacked. So now we are in a Credit Union and are a lot happier, even if they called us up to talk abotu what happened with Wamu, apparently Wamu let them know how horrible and evil we are. I love it how victims are now the guilty ones.
Like I said, I have no problems with companies making massive profits, but I do have a problem with companies making that off the backs of its customers. And in almost every aspect of finances this is what is happening, and its the poor that are paying the vast majority of this.
This is wrong.