Monday, November 24, 2008

Let Citigroup eat bread

When I was a poor boy with low amounts in my banking account, I got charged fees very month by my bank for allegedly not having enough in my account to make the bank money. I also got charged if I used too many checks. I also, occasionally, had an overdraft when I wasn't managing my account closely enough. Pow! Huge overdraft fee that equaled four hours of work.

When ATMs came along, I was charged $1.00 to get cash, even though the machines were actually saving banks money by allowing them to reduce counter personnel.

But what probably rankled me even more was the bank's hours of operation: 9-4. Outside of banks, who the hell operates their business from 9-4? What those hours meant was that I had to somehow get to the bank during lunch (when it was crowded with desperate people like me) or attempt to speed to the bank during its "extended hours" on Friday.

Being in the real estate business, I've bought a lot of homes in the last 6 years, which has meant, yes, dealing with BANKS. These banks have tried six times to make me pay a prepayment penalty on homes I was selling, even though my contract with the bank/lender stipulated that I shouldn't pay a penalty. I spent hours and days being run through a phalanx of bank grunts and officers each time to get the penalty removed, oft-times having to back up my closings on the homes and nearly losing my buyers a couple of times. I often wondered how many un-savvy sellers of homes never noticed the penalties when they sold their houses and could never understand why they didn't make more from the sale.

Outside of the penalty rant above, the banks had a right to do all they did, and I accepted the rules. But it is bad business. When people who want to give you cash get nickle and dimed and dollared by you in return, it creates resentment. Poorer people are between a rock and a hard place. The banks know this and take advantage of it, making those penalties and fees a major contributor to their bottom lines. The banks could treat these people well and make them longtime customers, but instead the banks have been irrationally pragmatic.

And many of these depositors will not always be poor. They will eventually try to find a decent bank to work with and give their increasing cash to. When I finally got money, I didn't give a dime of my money to the banks that squandered my good opinion, and I found a few whose policies were not parasitic of folks like I used to be.

So, ask me (a free-market capitalist) if I'm happy that I'm now being robbed by the U.S. government to bail out Citigroup and the rest of the upper legion of filth who have shit upon millions of people like me over the years. Go ahead, ask me!

Charge the bastards a trillion-dollar overdraft fee!

Then kick the sons-a-bitches to the streets and let them eat bread!

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