Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 29, 2008

Entitlement to Credit

Tony Pugh writes for McClatchy on Credit ripoff: How a $100 purchase turns into a $1,000 debt

The story is about subprime credit cards, how much of a rip-off these are and how finally the regulators are going after some bad behavior by the card issuers. That is all reported well as it should be. To spike an otherwise dry story, the author adds some human interest.

A former Navy hospital corpsman with disabilities, [Wendy] Adams received a popular subprime card — the Aspen MasterCard — in June 2006. She was approved for a $350 credit limit, but when the card arrived, Adams said, she'd already been billed for $285 in processing fees, leaving her only about $65 in available credit.

The above is all we learn on how Ms. Adams got the card. She must have in some way signed up for it. The processing fees are outrages, yes, but why then did she get that specific card? Was she scammed or did she not read the conditions and fees attached to it? The reporter does not let us know.

Adams said she promptly called and canceled the card.

That cancellation was never confirmed in writing by either side and the credit card issuer added interest costs, late fees and over-limit fees to the cards balance. A year later Ms. Wright finds that she owes some $1000+ on that card.

Now that is a problem. But still I wonder why she took out the card in the first place and why she did not cancel it in writing. She signed up for a card, the issuing company checked her credit records and sent her a card. That service was provided for a fee. Why did she believe that the cost for the already provided service would go away when she cancels the card? If you buy a car on credit but do not use it don't you still have to pay for the car?

Ms. Adams now has a credit counselor and some help from the Better Business Bureau. But unless the dispute is solved, her credit rating stays negative. Why is that a problem?

"Because of this, we can't buy our own house. We can't take the tax write-off. We have to pay rent. We have nothing to show for it. We can't buy a car. I can't get a credit card. Our credit is screwed," Adams said angrily.

There goes my last compassion for Ms. Adams. Entitlement to credit is not a human right. She and her also disabled friend can not pay $1,000 they own the credit card company. But they complain about not being able to buy a house AND a car AND more stuff because of the dispute.

Next to reading contracts Ms. Adams should also learn a bit about tax-write-offs. You only get write-offs on taxes that you owne. How much would that be in her case?

"I'm a disabled veteran. I have no money. I make $1,200 a month in disability. I can't work. I'm trying to go back to school, so I don't have $1,100 to fork over to a company that doesn't follow the rules," she said.

Sorry lady, you are a hopeless case.

I am all for better and stricter regulation of credit card issuers. They practice usury, they are vultures and there should be laws to protect their prey. But the reporting on the case does not show any wrongdoing by the company. Yes, the fees and interests are outrageous, but they are also legal. Nobody held a pistol to Ms. Adams' head and made her sign the dotted line.

There are people like Ms. Adams who feel entitled to a house and a car and further credit even as they are unlikely to ever be able to pay for it. Those people are in need of some harsh lessons and the credit card companies provide these. That is the only point where they do deliver a real service and deserve their fees.

Posted by b on June 29, 2008 at 16:09 UTC | Permalink


as much as I despise banks and the way they operate, I have to agree with you that these two are deadbeats and need to learn a lesson or two about personal responsibility.

The woman had to have had prior credit issues and she must have asked for this card. when she did not like the cost of it she decided not to pay. that unfortunately is the wrong way to do it and she is liable for the costs. there absolutely must be a signature from Ms Adams on an agreement that the bank holds, if not then this is a very large issue.

something else stinks about this story, the military usually offers financial counseling to their members. Ms Adams may not be completely honest about all this, or the writer may have left some details out for dramatic effect.

anyhoo, here we have two yound people who have been declared disabled and say they are unable to work, they both are receiving monthly payments from the government, and they want to buy a freakin house! wtf?

Posted by: dan of steele | Jun 29 2008 17:08 utc | 1

The quality of mercy is somewhat strained.

This example may be a poor anecdote about poor schmucks but that's the way things go in the US. To establish credit, people with the best intentions are forced to obtain these usury cards. I don't think these people thought they'd be buying a house next year; it's one step at a time. I bought a mattress 30 years ago with store credit to start my credit.

Why isn't personal finance taught in schools? Most people haven't got a clue and just try to do what it seems everyone else is doing. If people were told and understood that they are fooling themselves to think they really had a chance to obtain the 'dream' of home ownership, the political scene in this country would be different. Nobody's telling them that, just 'have some Hope(tm).'

Posted by: biklett | Jun 29 2008 17:55 utc | 2


I started out the same way and could not even get a Sears card. So I got cards from every other store and bought some stupid thing then never used them again. Soon I was able to get a Visa card, then Sears sent me an application which I promptly threw in the trash.

now it is so easy, everybody will give you a credit card and sometimes even with decent rates, especially if you join a credit union.

going back to the military, it is very easy to get a credit card from the base or post exchange. AAFES is a regular retail store and will establish credit for you. There is something else going on with Ms Adams and not just her being clueless.

totally agree on the severe lack of training for basic life experiences. most people can not do comparison shopping, understand compound interest, be bothered to use store coupons, even simple things like eat before going to the grocery store. I suppose that the capitalists would balk at having tax money spent on teaching people NOT to consume so that is where we are. If the parents don't know they won't teach their children and the cycle continues.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jun 29 2008 18:16 utc | 3

I did some googling with "Aspen Mastercard" and the whole company is a big scam, albeit a legal one. They just seem to be laying in wait for people like these: poor, undereducated ... and not able to afford lawyers.

If a person has not established an acceptable credit background where they can go to a legitimate bank, then they shouldn't expect companies to extend credit to them for any type of purchase. And if someone does extend them credit anyhow, they need to stop and ask why and how much. But this particular company seems to be expert at double talk and small print.

Posted by: Ensley | Jun 29 2008 19:03 utc | 4

wow, you weren't kidding Ensley,

Ripoff report

Posted by: dan of steele | Jun 29 2008 19:18 utc | 5

Laurie Anderson had a good line a while back which went something like:

'He didn't know what to do, so he looked at what the government was doing and scaled it down to size.'

There's your sense of entitlement.

Posted by: biklett | Jun 29 2008 19:39 utc | 6

So Ms. Adams didn't even google "Aspen Mastercard" - well, maybe she couldn't.

I do not understand this from biklett To establish credit, people with the best intentions are forced to obtain these usury cards.

Why does anyone need to "establish credit"?

If you do not have the money and/or income to support the repayment of credit you should not have any at all. I guess there is something in the U.S. system I don't understand.

Here we have debit cards. They are good for the amount you have in your operating account. If one has regular income, the card allows for a month income credit. If there are additional assets you hold with the bank, there may be more credit available on the card. Otherwise you do need something in value to back up a credit (a house etc.). I think its a relative fair system. (Of course there are also a few case where people try to scam it.)

But again why does one need to 'establish credit'? Is it impossible to live without such? Why?

Posted by: b | Jun 29 2008 19:46 utc | 7

"But again why does one need to 'establish credit'? Is it impossible to live without such? Why?"

God, as someone who's been dealing with credit issues his whole adult life (I'm 32) that sounds almost quaint! It's easy to forget the rest of the world does it differently.

There are obviously the areas where we've gotten used to not needing to save for things- cars, homes, etc.- and for these you need an established credit. But your credit score is independent of your assets. As I learned while a professional sales weasel, if a customer has a high six-figure income, owns two houses, but has a bad credit score because of a lackadaisical attitude towards paying bills on time, they're not even going to get financed on a Toyota sedan. They could've paid cash but didn't want to, and a low FICO score said no.

There's also the issue of insurance carriers denying you coverage if your credit score is low, and some employers will even deny you a job based on a bad credit score. So seriously, we're unique in this?

Hey, it's not ignorance if I admit I don't know, right?

Posted by: Dave | Jun 29 2008 20:07 utc | 8

Try paying for an airplane ticket or a rental car or anything that you order on the internet that you do in fact have cash in the bank to cover (or will have within the billing cycle) but must "purchase" with a credit card. In the USA that is. Debit cards are just not popular in the USA as here, b. I never charge what cannot be paid off immediately, but then I'm old school and hate paying any "fees" or interest. Debt scares the bejezus outta me.

Also getting a lease on an apartment rental (as I recall) usually entails a "credit check", so a poor credit history can really screw you up.

Posted by: Hamburger | Jun 29 2008 20:13 utc | 9

The news item says Aspen's target is "disabled." No one has asked "disabled how?"
A bit of imagination, please. None of you know what kind of disability Aspen might be using to its advantage.

Posted by: sue perry | Jun 29 2008 20:18 utc | 10

Unless the rules have changed within the past 2 years, you can't rent a car in the US without a credit card. A debit card won't do, and neither will cash. It's a credit card for the deposit, or no-go.

Posted by: mats | Jun 29 2008 20:44 utc | 11

If you haven't been "slammed," or pimped into a store credit card scam, or any of the myriad ways that usurer's use to get you hooked, interest due, surcharges and penalties ... then it's interesting to read the "they deserved it" comments above.

Nobody blinks an eye at $298 in processing fees, or egregious interest and penalties on egregious processing fees for NOTHING DELIVERED, no purchases! That Burgher Mentality, that Calvinist Ethic, enables the Usurer's, who are neither a Burgher nor Calvinist, but rake in 28%+ usurous blood money by auto-programming.
Then your credit is instantly doomed, your life a perpetual wage slave, or worse.

This is identifying with your torturer, as is sheeple's tacit acceptance of a Fed government as somehow "benevolent patriarchy", when nothing could be further from the truth. The pols are vicious usurous vampiroyal elitocrats, whose only existence is to grow your tax debt, and interest on that debt.

When has Fed government debt gotten smaller?! They run a "surplus", but their share of the GDP continues to rise, and that GDP calculation includes government spending!
That's a mathematical definition of a run-away geometrically out of control bleed.

How easily the vampiroyals grant you a false sense of entitlement for being their pay-on-time bleeders. Then would you condemn your child to a life of blood-letting, for credit card offers vampire usurists are making to children as young as 14?!

A global NeoZi.con credit fraud neutron bomb, and you're Night of the Living Dead howling and pointing at the few left who haven't been encoffined like you've been.

Juno Hilo Charlie....

Posted by: J. Charlie | Jun 29 2008 21:18 utc | 12

There are over 40 million adults in the US without credit cards or bank accounts. People like this have to pay $3 to $5 in fees each month just to pay their mobile phone charges at a Sprint store or something similar. Check cashing fees are a lot more. Nobody voted for this system except the lobbyists.

Oh, and sorry about that Euro 2008, if you care. Michael Ballack looked like Mickey Dolenz

Posted by: biklett | Jun 29 2008 21:44 utc | 13

for pete's sake J Charlie, all you have to do is read the fine print. it is clearly written what the charges are. let the buyer beware. what would you propose? that some benevolent government official decide if I am worthy of a credit card or not?

I have seen the offers for credit cards that arrive for my daughter and they are obscene. She already has a card from my bank and I don't understand why other parents would not do the same for their children. is this unheard of where you come from?

some people just want to act dumb and need to learn on their own. you don't need to get all worked up because some people want to be financially irresponsible.

this has nothing to do with the man, we make our own choices and if someone chooses to carry debt, that is his/her cross to bear.....except in the case of a catastrophe which should be addressed separately.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jun 29 2008 21:51 utc | 14

I must say I'm disturbed by some of the remarks here about the victims of these scams being deadbeats etc. Middle class people who have a reasonable amount of economic literacy may be able to walk the minefield that is modern money-lending without falling into the traps set by these assholes but a large proportion of ordinary human beings many of whom lack sufficient assertiveness to just say no get caught in the credit scam. Often until after years of working their asses off paying everything they earn to the usurers, bar a subsistence sort of low grade diet and living under a rock in some trailer park or equivalent, they finally give up.

Then they get the opportunity to look back on how right through their most productive years they had this huge monkey on their back called credit debt, and now that their earning potential has gone down the toilet along with everything they own, probably their health too, they have a major decision to make. Whether to scrimp for another five or ten years and get the monkey off their back so that when many others are just about to retire from the workforce they can get clear enough of debt to "start all over again" and then maybe they will have enough to pay for their death, or whether to throw in the towel declare bankruptcy and spend the rest of their lives denied access to all the things that require clean credit ie having a fixed line telecommunications (ie phone no good credit no phone just pay as you go expensive as hell mobile phones) no electricity until they can come up with a $500 deposit. And that is only if you get past problem number one.
No home. Landlords don't rent to someone with bad credit so the chances are going bankrupt will make you homeless.

It sickens me to read some of what has been written above from fellow MoA habitues. I try and help people who get into these horrible mind numbing often fatal (suicide rate is high) situations and while the peeps may not have made the same decision as you or I would have in the same situation often for them the debt began as soon as they entered the workforce, many get suckered, for any number of reasons; some are lonely people and they fall for the friendly demeanour of a 'helpful' salesman.
Still others are working poor families who wrongly imagine that raising their kids in the sort of poverty many were raised in themselves is the worst thing they can do for them, so they start by buying the kids all that crap for babies and nurseries that is pushed at them from every fucking possible orifice of corporate capitalism, then they buy the toys, computers was a big cause of bankruptcy for a long while same scam as the old encyclopedia salesmen, but with even more dire consequences.

Every bad decision that poor indebted people make drives them further into the maze towards the pit of total bondage. Few recognise that their situation is unmanageable until they are well past the point of recovery, the only way they can see to stay afloat is to borrow more.

As their options get more and more restricted they pay a much higher rate for essential services especially telecommunications than the rest of us. But not having a phone is not an option. Coin operated call boxes are a thing of the past. There was a time in this part of the world that having a phone was a right not a privilege, as was having a roof over yer head, electricity and water. No more, as with most other places, these rights have long gone to be replaced by cold hearted pricks who claim to be only doing their job who in turn have been replaced by labyrinth like voicemail and email systems where these peeps in the depths of despair are now denied access to a human voice at all when their phone, water, power and home is being removed from them.

Peeps die. There is a case currently being buck-passed through the system here where a mother of four on some sort of life support breathing machine for respiratory, circulatory disorders, died after the power was cut and the machine stopped going. Her husband was at work, they had made their payment (All $47.56 of it) but because they had gotten behind, they now had to pay in advance (another $200 on top of the $500 when they first subscribed).

The kids who had just got home from school pleaded with 'the man' not to cut off the power but "He said it wasn't up to him, they needed to dial the 0800 number" dismissively while he pulled the fuses. Even after she died, watched by some extremely tearful children, the company wouldn't turn the power back on so they had the humiliation continue as peeps from their church came to pay their respects and no one could make a cup of tea or turn on a light. The utility finally turned it back on, you know when. When the media got wind of what happened. That particular case was migrants who just couldn't work out what the 'system' was, but the utility was a community owned enterprise and although the shareholders (ie the other consumers) got the head of the CEO, in reality nothing has changed and the same thing could happen again today or tommorow.

This is slavery pure and simple yet the only time most peeps in the media comment on it is when some fuck-up like the sub-prime scam means that the scum who live off this usury are nibbling at the toes of the middle classes. Then the shouts for regulation are shrill but for those who have been living the bondage of consumer credit for decades, nothing, they are held up as examples of deadbeats and idiots.

When africans were being captured for slavery the slavers who were a cold hearted wily bunch had a mob of tricks they would pull to lure their quarry into a trap and catch them then enslave them. I'm sure at the time slavers would claim that it was the fault of the slaves for being so stupid. This here is no different, our society has developed myriad snares to catch the unwary and subject them to lifetime bondage as a wage or social security dependant slave.

Blaming the slave, is not only cruel, heartless and any other pejorative, by blaming the victim we enable these pricks to keep on doing what they are doing. When in many cases we are subconsciously thinking "There but for the grace of god go I".

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jun 29 2008 22:35 utc | 15

I'm literate, curious, and read economics blogs, but I still probably couldn't tell you what money is. It's something that's been developing over, what?, five thousand years since somebody figured out that there was a way to improve over barter. I'm at a level where I know that expenditure exceeding income may very well end badly (or, it may not, depending on time frame, what the expenditure was for, and other things I probably haven't thought of).

But for many people, the economics of everyday life are like subprime CDOs for investors -- they hazily think they understand it. They assume that they understand it. They base their assumptions on what they perceive other people as doing, so it must be the way things are done. I guess that the perceptions are based on a number of things: those extremely well done ads, where, for example, a tuxedo-clad man is embarrassed when he hits the limit on his credit card and we are told that you need never face this if you have the super duper card; all the ads for "No money down" purchases; advice to "tap the equity in your house"; the fact that other people seem to have the things that credit buys, and so on. All these things happen with no concrete currency changing hands and no limit until you're swamped. So how do you learn financial skills??

Ought people to know better? I can list probably 50 things that people ought to know better about, from health practices to political propaganda, and others can probably list 50 things that I ought to know better about. In a highly complex world, people make simple assumptions on which to live their everyday lives. We need to accept that reality and figure out how to structure the society so as to allow normal people to live harmoniously.

Blaming the less knowledgeable who end up victimized as a result of their ignorance allows us to avoid the work we need to do.

Besides, it's sort of meanness of spirit.

Posted by: nihil obstet | Jun 29 2008 23:10 utc | 16

I will be blunt. There should be no real credit (and no possibility to ever go into debt) for private persons, period. Credit cards should only be used to pay with the money you actually have in bank instead of having to find an ATM to get cash; once your bank account is empty, it's over, you get your ass up and you go work and get more money. Credit should only be used for firms and governments.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Jun 29 2008 23:26 utc | 17

this has nothing to do with the man, we make our own choices and if someone chooses to carry debt, that is his/her cross to bear

well..kinda, kinda not. when i started college credit cards weren't crammed down our throats. when my son turned 18 the card offers started that week. 'establishing credit' wasn't something i even related to as part of becoming an adult, now it seems mandatory. all the big corporations check your credit before they hire you. they treat your score like a grade card in school and people who don't take it seriously are 'punished' by higher costs, higher rates, higher offers from everything from health care, car rentals, car, life and home insurance. it is sort of like a branding and the earlier you are branded by the system the better as far as they are concerned.

some people just aren't very smart. for them it is a trap pressuring them into a permanent servitude. a life of low paying jobs, higher costs and fees.

i can't remember what it was that motivated me to get a credit rating sometime in my late 30's. at that time i had already bought 4 houses (all w/owner financing) and couldn't understand why these monthly payments didn't count. i bought a video camera ($500!) from a corporate store like best buy or something to establish credit. shortly thereafter my son and i were taking off for a few months so i paid 3 monthly payments in advance! came home to a huge bill and called the company explaining my situation and how i only made the deal in the first place to establish the credit and jeezelouise thought i was covering my ass before i left. luckily they let me off the hook since i had no record of ever using a card before.

You only get write-offs on taxes that you own.

not sure if that is what you mean b. if someone buys a house w/no money down the bank (or whoever owns your note) essentially owns your property yet almost the entire payment (at least initially) is interest that becomes tax deduction. those payments are often the same amount as a person would normally pay in rent. this is why home ownership can set a person on a completely different financial footing, for life. on the other hand, those that can't fandangle their way around credit 101 probably aren't ready for house payments. this is one reason people should not be buying houses if they can't save a decent down payment. it is like stepping on a moving treadmill.

since i started writing this i notice debs made some of my points. it's a racket and it should be illegal. cards shouldn't come w/automatics fees upfront unless it is a flat 50 bucks that doesn't incur fees or interest. people need to realize some people are just bad w/money management even if they know how to make it. there needs to be protection from predators that go after these people. whatever happened to the idea that each of us is attached to the weakest of us?
you can't enslave people because the rules say you can. if these were sexual predators we'd be all over their ass. some people are mentally challenge w/the pocketbook the same way some people are always late for appointments. the difference is they are targeted by every single corporation once they get in the system, kind of like raping the same person over and over. should be illegal.

Posted by: annie | Jun 29 2008 23:30 utc | 18

Well I'll tell you of my elderly mother-in-law that is called four or five tiimes a day by friendly, "I want to help you...", cut throat credit card scammers. When we finally got into her finances after the conservator hearing, some of these card were charging her 53% interest! Yes there are a few dead beats getting scammed, but tens of thousands of seniors fall prey to these human shits every year.

Meanwhile head to the South Carolina low country. If you are on disability, welfare, or have poor credit you're not allowed to have a checking account. Banks will not cash you checks without an account, so we have pay roll rip off companies that charge up to 30% to cash a state or federal check even if you have proper ID. Then you get to the Post Office with your cash and have 20 ro so money orders to pay your monthly bills. You never to the Post Office on the 1st or 15th of the month. The line of the poor goes right out the door.

Welcome to the Bush 3rd World

Posted by: Diogenes | Jun 29 2008 23:42 utc | 19

nihil obstet, money is imaginary, fiction, speculation , and has spawned 'voodoo economics'i.e, see, HW Bush

The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics

American politics has been hijacked. Over the past three decades, a fringe group of economic hucksters has corrupted and perverted our nation's policies. With dark, engaging wit, Jonathan Chait reveals how these canny zealots first took over the Republican Party and then gamed the political system and the media so that once unthinkable policies -- without a shred of academic, expert, or even popular support -- now drive the political agenda, regardless of which party is in power. Why have these ideas succeeded in Washington? How did a clique of extremists gain control of American economic policy and sell short the country's future? And why do their outlandish ideas still determine policy despite repeated electoral setbacks? Chait tells the outrageous and eye-opening story, expertly explaining just how politics and economics work in Washington. Through vivid portraits of venal politicians and pseudo-economists, with wry analyses of their bogus theories, Chait gives us the tools to understand what's really behind economic policy debates in Washington: a riveting drama of greed and deceit.

Oh, and welcome,pull up a stool and have a drink, b is an excellent and generous bar tender.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 29 2008 23:53 utc | 20

I hear you Diogenes, we've become a pawnshop nation. Funnily enough, I insulted someone last night, but I don't think the got the reference, I called em a, 'check cashing title loan pawn shop owner'
it went right over their head...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 30 2008 0:00 utc | 21

Marc Faber: ‘Misleading’ Fed Should Let Banks Fail

Gloom, doom and boom indeed...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 30 2008 0:24 utc | 22

You only get write-offs on taxes that you own.

I believe this is supposed to read owe.

You can only deduct tax credits and losses if you owe income taxes. If your taxable income (individual with no dependents) is less than approximately US$8500, you are exempt from income tax. If you don't owe taxes to begin with, you can't write deductions of any kind off since you don't owe anything to begin with.

This is where candidates who talk about giving tax credits to the poor for health insurance, day care, etc., are effectively saying 'fuck you' since the poor generally don't earn enough salary to owe enough taxes to ues the credits. $1000 off of $0 is still $0; you don't get any benefit from the tax credit or write-off it at all.

I don't know if I have been clear. Like the US tax system, it is difficult to make sense out of it.

Posted by: Ensley | Jun 30 2008 1:57 utc | 23

Pawnshop Nation? Yeah. We're headed there.

Posted by: Diogenes | Jun 30 2008 2:48 utc | 24

barter nation would be preferable.

Posted by: annie | Jun 30 2008 3:14 utc | 25

DoS, are you saying that if your family visits WADC, say, for the summer, and you're gunned down in a drive-by shooting, then it's your fault for visiting the murder capitol of the US, and right after handguns were just legalized by SCOTUS?

Because that's what you're saying. e.g. "If you don't like USA, move to Iran!"

You should have known better, buddy! Ergo, all murder is OK, because the victims should have known the perpetrator was getting agitated. All rape is OK because the victim should have observed the perpetrator was getting excited. And all criminal corporate-government extorion and embezzlement and torture, fraud, malfeasance is perfectly legal, because we live in a democracy, and gave our approval by proxy?

My 20-something is kind, honest, hard-working and almost college degreed, a pillar of his peer group. If I didn't handle his financials and taxes, he would already be homeless (NeoZi.con American debtor internment), or in some IRS Gitmo torture cell.

My grandfather survived world wars on his wits, made a living, house and pension on
a minimum wage, and is still sharp as a tack at 85, but if I didn't run off those
scumsuckers in his own church who tried to con him into a 2006 refi mortgage loan, he'd be evicted and living at our house now.

The day I fall ill or incompetent, the vultures will swoop in. Ask anyone. By the time they push your wheelchair from the nursing warehouse to the garbage truck, your entire estate will be mis-managed by fee-tapping blood suckers for maximum extraction rate. If EU readers had any idea what it's like to live in America, they'd carry silver crosses around their necks, and shudder at Oh Say Can You See.

Credit usury is apartheid by proxy. Sooner or later, 3/4's of US will reside there.
You can accept that or not, but hopefully nobody here will chortle, "I am white."


And while we're on handguns % ), a few years ago I happened to return from a weekend vacation early, and parked around behind the house, down the street. I was sleeping in a dark empty locked house, when something, some chimera, some breath of still air, woke me silently. My mind still half in sleep, and shadow images moving in the darkness, I called out to what I thought was my kid, home from college. The shadow jumped four feet in the air, and bolted for the front door. By the time my mind had cleared and I'd staggered to my feet, the two of them were a block away, still sprinting hard, and irritatingly, laughing boisterously.

Now imagine if that shadow was carrying a 357-magnum they bought legally, and I had surprised them in the dark, a room away from where my AK-47 is racked and loaded. Imagine if they'd fired, and missed, (which most people do with a handgun, try it), then in my rage, I'd grabbed that AK-47, shooting at them down the block, but those richocet's, at 600 rpm's, had smoked some slob sleeping soundly in their bedroom.

Should the dead slob have known better for not sleeping behind a concrete shield?
Because that's what you're saying, DoS. Caveat emperor. Shoot first, don't ask.
The typical gun fight lasts 3 seconds. The typical gun death is murder or suicide.
Not that anything we say here has anything to do whatsoever with prevailing society.

Posted by: Aah Dieu | Jun 30 2008 3:17 utc | 26

"Are there no prisons?...are there no workhouses?" I'm kidding.

Posted by: Copeland | Jun 30 2008 4:49 utc | 27

@ensley "You only get write-offs on taxes that you own."

I believe this is supposed to read owe.

Correct - that was a typo, sorry, corrected.

Posted by: b | Jun 30 2008 4:55 utc | 28

I was a little pissed by b's 'deadbeat' rhetoric, but enough's been said already.

I'll keep my venum for the real deadbeats, starting with the Fed Reserve, the BOE, and the ECB.

Posted by: DM | Jun 30 2008 10:39 utc | 29

Yunno, credit-card companies sell uncollected debt at around 60 cents on the dollar. But it does not mean that they are losing money on the deal if the dollar of bad credit in question consists of around thiry cents in principal and seventy sense in fees and compound interest.

It just means that they are earning at a usurious rate rather than an extorionate one.

And since the bad debt that they sell goes to the positive side of the balance sheet, look at it this way: by defaulting on credit-card debt, you are helping to create assets!

Adam Smith must be spinning in his grave...

Posted by: ralphieboy | Jun 30 2008 11:49 utc | 30

"Some rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen"
-- from Woody Guthrie's song Pretty Boy Floyd

that is to say, count me among those who regard b's attitude here as too harsh

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. | Jun 30 2008 13:07 utc | 31

deadbeat is my word, not b's

give blame where it is due.

life is tough, just who would you propose do the hand holding to get the financially naive through the bad place that is credit and banks? the government?

the best we could hope for is to get some kind of financial training into the high school curriculum. I do not live in the US so don't know if the school boards are receptive to this. Does anyone have any experience they would like to share?

sorry if I sound like some freakin rightwing authoritarian, but I firmly believe people have to take responsibility for their own actions. I don't want some government nanny making decisions for me. I bet none of you do either.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jun 30 2008 14:20 utc | 32

I don't want some government nanny making decisions for me. I bet none of you do either.

Depends on what nanny decisions are. People seem to differ there. I fro one would like a government to restrict the maximum total fee and interest that can be attached to credit card debt to a maximum like say fed rates plus 6%.

That would restrict my choices - but it would be for the social good. Grover Norquist would of course see that has a nanny state ...

Posted by: b | Jun 30 2008 14:33 utc | 33

During the 1980s I served on the Illinois Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Advisory Commission. All middle school students in Illinois (age 12-15 approximately) were required to take a ½ semester class in Consumer Protection. The curriculum showed the most common scams—Ponzi scheme, making false claims—and highlighted channels for resolving complaints through the AG’s office. The course seems to no longer be offered. (One complaint about the course at the time was that a few of the convicted scammers seem to have learned their trade from the middle school curriculum itself!)

State efforts to assist consumers seem to be hampered by a thousand cuts. The unkindest cut of all is the one Eliot Spitzer wrote about. I still can’t get over the timing of his embarrassment, following so immediately on this powerful piece.

Posted by: Browning | Jun 30 2008 14:42 utc | 34

My real speciality has a lot to do with mathematics education. The history of mathematics in daily use (as opposed to epistemology of ‘advances’ in mathematical constructions, discoveries or thinking) shows that accepted social practice is stubborn to change, even when a large no. of ppl (or the elites) understand that present practices are ‘dumb’, ‘detrimental’, of no use to anyone, etc. The prototypical ex. from history is measuring land in length of the plot, ignoring area. Anyone with half a brain, even in 2000 BC, can see that this is insufficient, and leads to endless and vicious, sometimes deathly quarrels: why not, even if the precise calc. of area (known to experts and easy to figure out) at least ponder by breadth? Because of convention, habit, contract writing, etc.

Anyway the schism between applied math. in different fields and what one might call ‘pure’ math (it is never pure) has handicapped education, which has throughout the *ages* either concentrated on giving tools to the ‘expert’ elite (long division in Italy for ex.) and to offering math to students as a timeless, fundamental, completely true and disembodied ‘science’ hoping that students will absorb and then use the knowledge. In our times - 1950 to present - this has meant what I call cold war math (quantitave; quadratic eqs. etc.) which is used for making bridges, guns, nuke stations, rockets, tv, etc. It holds and is unassailable and must be mastered if one is actually to work on that kind of thing. Daily math, that is examining the applied math that is used in leasing contracts, derivatives, credit, the filling of swimming pools with water, to give just a few exs. (taught somewhat from 1920 to 1960) has fallen by the wayside for reasons too long to list, one being a general downward drift in ‘basics’ - tools for handling everyday life - ...

The upshot is that in ‘western’ countries large chunks of the population are innumerate or mathematically illiterate, in some measure, much more could be said; accepted social practice - having many credit cards, WOW! for ex. - wins out. Like having a LONG plot of land... Free money, etc. (In the end, everybody has strips that can't be easily cultivated; pays 20% extra for what they buy.)

*Cultural* differences are large. In Switzerland ‘credit history’ or ‘credit rating’ or whatever don’t exist. Accepted practices, etc. Sharia law forbids usury. Etc.

Posted by: Tangerine | Jun 30 2008 18:12 utc | 35

sorry if I sound like some freakin rightwing authoritarian, but I firmly believe people have to take responsibility for their own actions.

i don't want to chastise you dan but i think you are missing the point. of course we want people to learn to be responsible but there have to be limits set in terms of the punishment. here's why..the increased punishment for bad credit escalates faster than some peoples ability to comprehend or remedy the situation. the deck is stacked in favor of those w/resources to influence the system in their favor w/the effect being that one persons pain is a gain for the system thereby motivating/stimulating the system to perpetuate the escalation of pain/gain. what if a persons debt could then be transferred onto their children?what of this $300 'credit' opportunity came w/a $25,000 penalty if not paid off in 1 year? what if you could land yourself in a 5 year work camp if you failed to pay it? what if the work camp then charged you room and board that exceeded the 'credit' you earned by working a 60 hr week? what if the only way you could legally alleviate yourself from this commitment was to join the armed forces or donate your liver? there have to be limitations on 'punishment'.

once i was asked to speak to students at an alternative highschool for kids w/social issues, topic my choice. i chose interests rates and brought in graphs demonstrating the difference between costs of purchasing a new car w/low payments @17% interests stretched out over many years vs that same car purchased @8% over 5 years. same w/30 years vs 15 year house loans. the kids were totally clueless. one of them told of buying a new car w/her boyfriend that turned into a credit nightmare and here she was @19 w/this huge debt for a car that had been repo'd. some slick salesman w/a slick loan designed to trap them. lots of kid's start out their adult lives 5 and 10 grand in debt. some of them even commit suicide!

this couple in the article. if they both make 1200 a month disability and they understand other people out there can buy a house @6% and right down the street in las vegas where there are brand new houses selling for 129,000. they think wow. my payments would be less than the rent i'm paying, why can't i buy one?

this same person sees an offer for a credit card and thinks 'OK that sounds like a good deal' and then when it arrives doesn't like it. so she calls to say she doesn't want it but low and behold when she dialed the number what she was really doing was activating it!

the company knew she wanted to cancel it but they required she put it in writing which was in the fine print but they didn't actually tell her that. she probably just thought FU and screw this and to hell i'm not paying this i didn't get jack shit from this company and next thing she knew down the road she's paying higher car insurance and doesn't even realize they were connected. on and on and it just gets worse and bwwwwahhhhhh.

too much fine print. creative fine print. if there was one simple basic design applied to everyone we wouldn't have this problem.

Posted by: annie | Jun 30 2008 18:43 utc | 36

It is quite likely that this thread is dead and I have posted too many times already. Some of my words have hurt people that I like and respect and I do apologize for that. I would like to attempt to explain why I feel the way I do about this.

I took issue with Ms Adams in part because she is prior military and as such has received a great deal of help already and really has no excuse for not being more savvy when it comes to credit and credit cards.

All services have a Transition Assistance Program that helps people move from the military back into civilian life. One is taught how to fill out a job application, prepare a resume and how to conduct a job interview, even what to wear to the interview. Financial assistance is available and free and one can even go on regular duty time. Now what more could anyone possibly ask for?

I would like to share a little story with you that also made me a bit disappointed with at least one of my fellow citizens. I worked in an office with a young man (around 30 I think) who came from New Jersey, kind of a rough neighborhood, was married to a woman who could work but chose not to because of social issues she had, had a small child and is all in all a pretty nice guy. He tells me that he has a new truck back in Jersey that he is making payments on, he also has a new car in Italy with him that he is also making payments on. He tells me that he would like to buy a new BMW before he returns to the states.

So, I try to explain to him that he is already giving a lot of money to the bank in interest, that it might be a better idea to start banking the payments we would have been making for the new beemer and then just before he returns to the US, he could walk into the dealership with a big down payment and probably even negotiate a better price. Not only would he have not paid interest on a loan for two years, he would have actually accrued some interest from savings. Wow he says, never thought of that, seems like a good idea.

So I am feeling good about myself for having done something good for someone else.

Don’t you know, less than a month after our little talk he went out and bought a new BMW. Then when he went to the US he bought a house too. All this on an Air Force Staff Sergeant pay currently around 2700 a month (there are additional payments for housing and meals)

Maybe I was jealous, I bought my first new car when I was 45 years old and agonized over it for quite a while. Seemed like so much just for a car. To be in debt for 3 new cars is frightening to me.

Others explained to me that today’s young people look at debt as a living expense. If they can make payments of 900 dollars a month they will continue to buy things so that they are always making payments of 900 dollars a month. Savings is something they may do for a child but never for themselves.

So sorry if I come across as an ogre, I was born on a very small farm in North Dakota quite a few years ago and left that farm when I was 17. truly a babe in the woods I had never even seen a black person until I got to basic training in San Antonio Texas. I made some mistakes and learned from them. But I didn’t have to make every mistake for myself, if I saw someone else getting a raw deal I paid attention and made sure it wouldn’t happen to me. Is that so unusual? Am I the only one who takes an interest in what happens around me and does not merely go through life on autopilot?

Being raised Lutheran, one thing we hear over and over again is that God helps those who help themselves and my favorite quote is “the harder I work, the luckier I get”. So maybe that is why I am a bit short with people I consider whiners.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jun 30 2008 19:16 utc | 37

haven't been commenting or even reading here for a few months because of a head injury.

Interesting thing, even if you lose your sense of the long term, even if you can't remember or care about your bills - they still come. Luckily I do not live alone.

Just started attending to my own bills again. And although I agree that people need to protect themselves, a country that refuses to protect those who cannot protect themselves is begging for revolution.

Malnutrition, depression, disability, etc. the reasons behind why people 'fail' to think things through is quite long. ...To approve by law an eternal beast (corporation) that feasts on such comrades - makes me need to retch.

Posted by: citizen | Jun 30 2008 20:17 utc | 38

i don't want to chastise you dan but i think you are missing the point. of course we want people to learn to be responsible but there have to be limits set in terms of the punishment. here's why..the increased punishment for bad credit escalates faster than some peoples ability to comprehend or remedy the situation. the deck is stacked in favor of those w/resources to influence the system in their favor w/the effect being that one persons pain is a gain for the system thereby motivating/stimulating the system to perpetuate the escalation of pain/gain. what if a persons debt could then be transferred onto their children?what of this $300 'credit' opportunity came w/a $25,000 penalty if not paid off in 1 year? what if you could land yourself in a 5 year work camp if you failed to pay it? what if the work camp then charged you room and board that exceeded the 'credit' you earned by working a 60 hr week? what if the only way you could legally alleviate yourself from this commitment was to join the armed forces or donate your liver? there have to be limitations on 'punishment'.

Annie, I hear the pain in your voice, but I don't think your 'what ifs' are relevant (luckily) (yet). People who get into massive debt - speaking from absolutely direct experience - don't have to give up firstborn or livers. What happens is bad enough: they expose themselves to the utter, crashing indifference of a system that can only take. Every squeezed debtor is a post-Katrina New Orleans unto themselves. The Man is an abandoner, first and foremost.

I know I should sympathize with the people who ran up their debts on chasing status - no -one paid for those shiny new SUVs, those sparkly boats with cash - but I don't, not really. The ignorant should be protected at all costs, but the greedy? Running up debt to put bread in your children's mouths is one thing, but to buy yourself toys is another.

Sorry if I sound like another conservative. I'm not, but I've seen this particular beast from far too close, and I can see what's going on around me as well. At some point we have to accept responsibility for something.

Citizen: nice to see you back! Are you well enough for a drink?

Posted by: Tantalus | Jun 30 2008 20:45 utc | 39

hi dan, no no no you have not posted too many times for me. i think the answer lies somewhere in your last comment. let me explain.

I was born on a very small farm in North Dakota quite a few years ago’s young people look at debt as a living expense.

what happened between the time when you were raised on that farm and now? i watched a tv interview a while back of 2 mother's, both who lost their college children to suicide because of debt. they said when they were growing up credit wasn't handed out to children. our society absolutely revolves around consumerism in a way it didn't when we were being raised. children are bombarded w/advertisements and the idea all these goods are accessible to them and they are entitled to all of it. watch the movie 'the corporation'. their is a psycological battle going on for the minds of children breeding them to become consumers. go look at the parking lot of a shopping center on saturday afternoon. one would think consumption in itself was grand entertainment.

i remember seeing the most gorgeous little cotton blouse in sausalito when i was in highschool. it was $18 dollars. i put a down payment on it and asked that it be put on hold. this was normal them. stores held purchases until you pid things off. it took me over a month to pay for that blouse. nowadays kids want a pair of jeans that cost hundreds. it's society that teaches us value, not just our parents.

i remember getting into a serious diecussion w/my sons teacher, then the principle at his kindergarten over the friggin book program. the teacher would hand out these catalogs of book and comic purchases available thru the school. my 5 year old would plead w/me to buy him these books even tho we went to the library every week and had access to free books. he didn't want to be the only kid not buying one because the teacher then asked the kids in front of the class what there book was, and there was always a few books that were 'cheap' for the poor kids. i went to the principal with a list of purchases my child had been 'encouraged' to purchase since he started school. sweat shirts, t shirts, books, videos, optional lunch programs, optional after school programs that cost $$. i ask, can we have a consumer free zone here? my child is only 5 and i have an abundance of opportunity to field off offers of consumption in his daily life, do i have to combat this consumerism at school too?

the gadgets alone! the cell phones, game boys and leggos that cost an arm and a leg, $500 bikes. here's what i told my son, that i completely supported him getting a job. (he did , at 5 but that is another story).

my point is that the world is different now and there are billions of dollars invested in turning us into robust consumers, for many it is a trap and this is not accidental. corporations hire marketing psychologists to target the population and we are not trained how to combat this in school, just the opposite. ideas like socialism are practically swear words. we are bred for competition but we shouldn't have to compete for education or health care or social security or pensions. people shouldn't have to understand how banking works to be protected from becoming a slave. if you grow up in a society that pushes you to consume beyond your means there will inevitably be people who do.

I took issue with Ms Adams in part because she is prior military and as such has received a great deal of help already and really has no excuse for not being more savvy when it comes to credit and credit cards.

well, frankly i had a different reaction to hearing she was prior military. for the last few years this military option has not been attracting the brightest of the bright. one should have to be savvy to avoid financial predators. this whole subprime thing is a scam, even the name is a scam. there should be no high risk credit. imagine a cliff at the grand canyon. there is a rope that says 'no one beyond this point'. now, imagine a high risk area where the people lured in are the ones that have a history of falling in unlikely places. for them.. they get to go much closer.

Tantalus, just saw you comment.. will respond in a minute.

Posted by: annie | Jun 30 2008 20:51 utc | 40

citizen, wow, i hope you are healing well, so sorry to hear..welcome back.

Posted by: annie | Jun 30 2008 20:52 utc | 41

one should have to be savvy to avoid financial predators.

i meant no one should have to be.

Tantalus Annie, I hear the pain in your voice, but I don't think your 'what ifs' are relevant (luckily) (yet)

they were an over reach to make a point, the point being there should be a system in place that doesn't allow predatory lending, because while there will always be greedy people gaming the system from the consumer side, the temptation for greed is much more achievable from those offering the 'deals'. if you add up those profiting most, it isn't the greedy consumer. besides what one person thinks of as 'greed' another just thinks 'why can't i buy a house if i work a 40 hr week, my neighbor can'.

I know I should sympathize with the people who ran up their debts on chasing status - no -one paid for those shiny new SUVs, those sparkly boats with cash - but I don't, not really.

i am not asking anyone to sympathize w/those people. i am saying the society should have a system in place to prevent them from buying those sparkly toys unless they can afford it!

i have 2 sisters who are a nightmare w/money. believe me it is a massive pain in the ass. they don't get it and never will. i could lecture them til a am blue in the face. does it piss me off? of course, but who the f allowed them them to entitle themselves????

i have one sister who took out a line of credit @15% on a home that was given to her, she had horrid horrid credit. she brags to me how she took 10 thousand from her 40 thousand line of credit and put it in a savings account so she wouldn't spend it!!!!!!!

gee, do you think i ask her how much interest she was earning in that savings account? did she piss away every single cent of that equity? yes!! i'm talking massively clueless. another sister borrowed 60thousand when she moved to start up her business and pissed away most of it on advertising and ended up foreclosing.

i am not saying we can solve either of those examples w/protections. what i am saying is there should be some cut off point on debt because it doesn't just hurt the individual it hurts society as a whole. look at what this has done to us?

we are trillions in debt completely dependent on the outcome of aggressive wars to subsidize our lifestyles passing that debt onto our children. this has got to stop. we must prevent the weakest amoung us, the bottom wrung of the ladders from flying out to orbit while the rich get richer.

At some point we have to accept responsibility for something.

yes, but the 'we' should be the 'we' of a collective society, no man is an island.

citizen a country that refuses to protect those who cannot protect themselves is begging for revolution.

when enough people get screwed, and how can they not in this environment, this is inevitable.

Posted by: annie | Jun 30 2008 21:21 utc | 42

ok tantalus, another example of how this hurts us all.

our glorious greedy oil companies along w/our glorious car companies lobby our congress to give massive $25,000 tax breaks to purchase huge glossy gas guzzling suv's for their business's. the people are to stupid to figure out they are going to be spending at least $25000 more on gas, or maybe not. maybe they don't give a flying f because they know they won't own that truck long enough for it to matter and why should they when they can turn around next year and buy another and get another tax break. meanwhile the first guzzler gets sold, beefing a car industry that is dependent on everybody buying a certain amount of new products whether they need them or not. the roads are packed, the smog gets worse, people forget how to walk and theor legs fall off. within a few years everybody forgets once apon a time humans had legs.

lol, never mind


Posted by: annie | Jun 30 2008 21:32 utc | 43

Annie, we basically agree.

I try to keep my loathing for the predatory lenders - which is very, very deep - at a remove from my opinion of the aquisitional multitudes who both brought them into existence and feed them with their blood. I think it's a closed system, unfortunately. What came first, the big fat shiny car, or the urge to possess something big, fat and shiny? They gave us what we wanted, we wanted what they gave us, they gave us... and so on, tails chasing tails around and around.

I completely and utterly agree with you about the power of advertising on the young. I have three young kids and the telly scares the shit out of me. And yeah, when I was 18 I was a mod - UK youth culture/tribe/whatever centered around style and expressions thereof. Basically we lived for clothes. I spent all my money on clothes and going out. But if I wanted that unbelievable shirt, I got the shirt and didn't eat for a fortnight, or put it on layaway. It's the idea that we can have it all that's so poisonous. Funny: I'm right back where I started from, but now it's two weeks of lentils to pay the mortgage, not buy the wicked shoes...

Posted by: Tantalus | Jun 30 2008 21:34 utc | 44

i remember buying my first pair of charles jordan fuck me spikes. once i was crossing broadway a little tipsy (one too many stiff tanquery martinis) so's not to miss the opening curtain and slipped. stopped traffic. cruel shoes, those were the days.

damn i was hot. lol.

Posted by: annie | Jun 30 2008 23:08 utc | 45

Damn indeed.

You stopped traffic on Broadway? I only managed to get beaten up outside CBGBs, but then, hasn't everybody?

Posted by: Tantalus | Jul 1 2008 0:41 utc | 46

so much of amerikan society's ills stems from this instant gratification the x/y/z generations now see as their birth right. while our culture plays a huge role in forming youth, parenting is still the crucial formative force in a child's life. so where has this grotesque sense of entitlement come from? the capitulation of boomer counter-culture to the refined strategies of advertisers is one of capitalism's greatest victories. i'll just leave it at that and wait for the rhetorical backhand.

what's more worthless than a spoiled suburban 'tween infused by marketers with a black hole of want? that is the imprinting i'm trying to rewire, and it isn't easy. and when we hit college and the credit hustlers get to work, watch out. I finally got out from under a credit card, but the collegiate loans i took out with Hells Embargo (Wells Fargo) suck plenty hard.

and it's not like i was raised to be irresponsible with money, but in the midwest suburbs buying things is a form of recreation. the time i spent in malls at the age of 13 is embarrassing. and i still engage in "retail therapy" because buying a book, or, before the i-pod "revolution", a cd is like sucking consumerism's pacifier. so, for anyone keeping score, the origin of my vehemence is my continued complicity.

great thread. good, honest dialogue. thanks all.

Posted by: Lizard | Jul 1 2008 4:15 utc | 47

lizard!! in the midwest suburbs buying things is a form of recreation.

hello? did you read my earlier comment? go look at the parking lot of a shopping center on saturday afternoon. one would think consumption in itself was grand entertainment.

i swear to god shopping is the reward for the slave mentality. it is like a big teet we get to suck on our days off. it's horrible. we are all pavlov's dogs. it's become the grand conquest.

seriously folks this whole concept of purchase/ownership has gone bezirck and is threatening our planet. we aren't going to solve it by knocking little wendy adams into a reality check. she is facing a goliath of marketing and weird mindset training us to believe we can all pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and that just isn't possible in todays environment. it may be possible for a few of us, but not enough to turn the tide.

somethings gonna blow, bigtime.

Posted by: annie | Jul 1 2008 4:31 utc | 48


No backhand here, the other day from another room I heard Jimi Hendrix's Star Spangle Banner playing on the TV, and when I looked in I saw that it was the sound track for a Mountain Dew commercial.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 1 2008 5:55 utc | 49

whoops, #49 was in response to #47; "the capitulation of boomer counter-culture to the refined strategies of advertisers is one of capitalism's greatest victories. i'll just leave it at that and wait for the rhetorical backhand."

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 1 2008 5:57 utc | 50

In regards to anna missed's #49

Your post reminded me of this for some odd reason:

'Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky by Russell Shorto

Perhaps, because of our soul sick society...


Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jul 1 2008 6:15 utc | 51

annie: yes, should have mentioned your comment got me thinking about my sick, consumer roots. but you didn't take the boomer bait, darn.

anna missed: exactly! may they all take Bill Hicks advice.

Posted by: Lizard | Jul 1 2008 6:21 utc | 52

Interesting, passion-and-anguish filled thread, which, in a way, seems to be raising real, irreducible and probably unsolvable issues: the dialectic between the desire for freedom from Leviathan's dicta and the fear of a "nasty, brutish, and short life" without a social contract, the contradictions between the meretricious spurs to consumerism and egalitarian ideals, and, at last, the nurturing dreams of parents for their childrens' well-being curdling into the nightmare of the "goldilocks syndrome".

In the approaching twilight of the golden calves and market idols, it may turn out to be a blessing that the "political tools" for pursuing happiness have been so thoroughly corrupted as to leave dissidents with only their very sense of community and justice as refuge and consolation.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jul 1 2008 7:44 utc | 53

What is described in this article used to be called usury, and it used to be illegal.

Times change, and some people just aren't up to speed, like when they dealers switched from cocaine to crack.

I'm with Steppenwolf on this: God Damn the pusher man!

Posted by: Gaianne | Jul 1 2008 8:35 utc | 54

the capitulation of boomer counter-culture to the refined strategies of advertisers is one of capitalism's greatest victories.

Exactly. But the advertisers are ourselves: they don't come from Alpha Centauri, they were the people sitting next to you in Poli-Sci. We don't produce anything anymore, so there can only be sellers and buyers.

There's also an incredible cultural vacuum in this country. What can you do in the Mid West except shop? There's f-all else to do. There was nothing to do long before there was a consumer society, but I'm not sure that said consumer society wasn't invented to plug that void. Everything can be looked at in the context of 'selling.' Selling religion, selling guns, selling whisky to the tribals, selling sex, selling the myth of the Old West, Lincoln selling an invented America at Gettysburg. Did it come from the cold-eyed mercantilism of the Puritans? As someone who grew up across the Atlantic, I can say that America meant exactly that to me: the Big Sell. In my defense I can only say that I fell for a beautiful woman, not Uncle Snake-Oil Sam, but I still ended up here...

My first real job out of college was almost in an ad agency. An uncle got me an interview at one of the big London multinational agencies - this was 1985 or so - and I put on my new suit and tie, feeling like a prick on casters, as they say, and rolled up to the plush Soho offices. I was greeted by the head of the creative department, a homunculus of a man in an electric wheelchair, who leeringly told me that advertising 'is the most fun you can have with your clothes on' and then subjected me to a half-hour interview that could have been scripted by David Lynch. I think I got the job. Anyway I was supposed to call him the next day to get started, but I never did.

Everyone's infected. We try to keep our kids from watching commercial telly, but their friends watch, and grandma watches. The worthless plastic crap builds up like a tide mark in the corners of the house. The 'Can I Have That' mantra embeds itself into soft young minds. 'No You Can't' makes parents the cultural enemy. Our children will lead corporate-branded lives from dawn to dusk, and then dream of Barbie, unless we guard them constantly. Sometimes it doesn't even seem worth the misery it generates. But it is.

Posted by: Tantalus | Jul 1 2008 10:47 utc | 55

Terrific thread. Thanks everyone. Citizen, glad you're back. Be well.

Posted by: beq | Jul 1 2008 11:45 utc | 56

The Romans had slaves and thought that was fine (.. later some different system was implemented...) also that the paterfamilias could decide the fate of children (abortion, put out in the street, up for adoption, etc.) These ppl, men, women, were responsible for their own actions and took them very seriously, and discussed and legislated without end. They did ‘right’. In a particular cultural and legal framework. Long ago.

Personal responsibility is to be measured by societal agreements. If ppl are told it’s good to rip others off, or take illegitimate free perks, or get money from the heavens (property in Calif never goes down so into debt we can go), or waste, that that is the American way, it’s the best system, the greatest country in the world, defending itself, etc. well what can you expect?

All this sounds like the strapped middle classes blaming poorer ppl for entering the system - there is nothing else!- or even gaming it in some way. What do the the lower classes have to loose?

US elites, 1 to 5 % of the pop. in effect own the country. It’s land, productive mechanisms, its corporations and stocks. And the Gvmt. and indirectly the Banks.

The rest do what they are told or encouraged to do. Their wages are flat over time at best, low and insecure always, if the hoi polloi can squeeze out extra money in the form of debt slavery, prison labor, scams like Enron, etc. well and good.

The system might collapse? Getting blood out of stones hiccups and falters? NOT a problem. Deal with it when it arises.


citizen hope you are doing well

Posted by: Tangerine | Jul 1 2008 18:42 utc | 57

here's to a speedy and full recovery citizen (hoisting an imaginary tankard of Guinness)

I thought we had a responsibility to care for the weak among us?

"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

Posted by: jcairo | Jul 2 2008 15:29 utc | 58

C.S. Lewis, now a darling of family values liars, pointed out in '62 or so (died 11/22/63, also Aldous Huxley/JFK) that what was anathema to all 3 Mediterranean cultures from which West hails, Roman/Greek/Judeo - money at interest- was now foundation of society. Is also forbidden to Muslims, one of those freedoms they hate and fools are paid to bomb against, thus strengthening our cattle resolve against analysis.

Personally think money at interest, especially at bottom, very useful: borrowing seed to plant crops with deal that seed lender gets piece of harvest very useful, but point is increased crop/food, not Monsanto control of a sterilized yet spurting society.

Don't worry. Gaia will get coasts, meek will inherit the fish feeding, new start, new system, maybe even a Jubilee year, though I doubt the last, not in character for these actors. Bono is a tool for the Cui as much as any of us are.

Have finally put back up bloviating beasts, also earlier line drawing>cartoons. Will do more beasts soon, have 100's written but none done 1 1/2 years, if the creeks don't rise.

Posted by: plushtown | Jul 2 2008 16:30 utc | 59

gaia will get the coasts and a month later, the supervolcano that is Yellowstone erupts and finishes the remaining fish eaters

Currently, volcanic activity is exhibited only via numerous geothermal vents scattered throughout the region, including the famous Old Faithful Geyser, but within the past two million years, it has undergone three extremely large explosive eruptions, up to 2,500 times the size of the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption.



Posted by: jcairo | Jul 2 2008 19:55 utc | 60

jcairo #60, don't know place of the Yellowstone caldera in soon history, do think Denver Int. Airport (at least 7 layers deep) very close, as is Elizabeth Regina property bought last few years. Caldera climax not inevitable soon, but scary/likely, tales of hotter ground grabbing sneakers etc compelling, like a black falcon. But earthquakes under lightening glaciers are inevitable soon, not something that could be tomorrow or in 1000 years.

Do think it very interesting that when responsible speculators talk of volcanic ash or comet bounced dust blocking sun/photosynthesis, no one speculates of ways to precipitate said dust out, though in 1815 a Vermont farmer walked through such sulfurous nastiness to his mountain wheat fields, fed his town below.

Posted by: plushtown | Jul 2 2008 21:37 utc | 61

sorry, farmer is 1816, "year without a summer", causative Tambora eruptions April 1815, and might be New Hampshire, am googling.

But point is "can do" vs. "can't do", like 1906 SF earthquake being responded to so much more "competently" than Katrina.

Posted by: plushtown | Jul 2 2008 21:55 utc | 62

apparently, these massive volcanoes (the evidence for which was found in the ice of Greenland from a big one in SE Asia 75000 years ago) run on a 600,000 year cycle.

It has been 640,000 years since Yellowstone last blew.

The response to Katrina has no correlation to SF 1906, no relation at all. Katrina wasn't "can't do", but a "chose not to".

Now, you're relating the story of a farmer on the other side of the planet from the erupting volcano. A volcano not even in the same league as Yellowstone by a very, very wide margin.

There is no way he was walking through sulfurous anything. Volcanic dust is laced with glass. If you breathe it, you will suffocate in the cement the dust and blood make in your lungs. Sulfurous fumes can make H2SO4 in your lungs. At best, he was respirating the fine dust that gets blown into the upper atmosphere.

I'm not sure how "can do" the response will be when most of the remaining continent (coasts are gone, as per your "theory") is covered in a thick layer of ash like Herculaneum.

How could anyone precipitate anything out of the atmosphere when the event results in a mass extinction?

So, why exactly is the time-frame of your "theory" within the next 50 seconds when you've been talking it up for at least a coupla years now?

Posted by: jcairo | Jul 3 2008 9:29 utc | 63

jcairo: correct, Yellowstone goes and it's the big goodbye for lots of us, most of us. sitting slightly northwest of said cauldron is not something i like to think about too much.

Posted by: Lizard | Jul 4 2008 6:48 utc | 64

well, Dr. Lizardo, this weekend will likely be quiet

Here's to a safe and happy holiday weekend for you and your family and to all the truly patriotic Americans that inhabit this bar

imaginary Guinness glides doon his throat

Posted by: jcairo | Jul 4 2008 14:44 utc | 65

The data from Greenland, iirc, was high amounts of H2SO4 - sulphuric acid. This data was confirmed in at least two other disparate locations all at 75000 years ago. The evidence wasn't neccessarily of acid either.

The fine details escape me as I (warning upcoming profanity) saw the TV program well over a month ago.

However, consider how far Greenland is from SE Asia... I wonder how my new shingles (on the roof) would hold up? There is a large freshwater lake over there, the name escapes, but it is the caldera.

Taking plushtown's theory to it's conclusion would not necessarily mean a fresh start for anything. What will all that fresh water do to the ocean currents? They have stopped before, there's plenty of evidence for that too.

What happens when water stagnates? There's a dead lake in upstate NY with two layers, the bottom of which is highly suffused with H2S - hydrogen sulphide (i think, it was a while ago).

It would seem this happened to the oceans as well, which caused clouds of H2SO4 to spread over the land at some point. There is a huge limestone cave in Mexico(?) carved by a river of sulphuric acid.

There are rivers of moisture in the upper atmosphere that carry more water than Ol' Man River. One was supposed to hit the west coast of the US. It hit BC. Not very accurate, yet.

A warmer earth means tropical diseases for everyone and they will evolve faster, mutate faster...

Mt. St. Helens went off with the power of 500 Hiroshima bombs. Yellowstone will make that apppear as a "Lady Finger".

And then there's this:

In a universe filled with the spectacular and bizarre, life on planet Earth may be exposed to a deadly threat. It is called a gamma ray burst. and even if one happens at a vast distance from the solar system, it could destroy us.

It would irradiate Earth as if a hundred thousand atom bombs had gone off just outside our atmosphere. Derek Fox, Astrophysicist, Penn State University

I do agree with plushtown. We have much bigger issues and yet we motes prefer to spend large amounts of time and energy devising better ways of killing other motes...

Most of this info did come via TV, so only most of it is crrrap, but the other night on America's Got Talent, I saw a woman crush a six-pack with her ginormous bosoms.

laughter is the best medicine

Posted by: jcairo | Jul 5 2008 11:23 utc | 66

jcairo #63, yes Katrina was "chose not to" in response, faked/encouraged incompetence. Storm may also have been directed/stimulated and levees Seal blown, so no parallel likely there with SF 1906. Biggest parallel is in both cases death toll likely understated.

But point of SF comparison is that governments work better when privatisers/privateers not put in charge, thieves whose mantra is "Government is incompetent, so put us in charge and we'll show it's incompetent." Situation is somewhat as in Jon Ronson's>Men Who Stare at Goats (to be produced as George Clooney movie), where CIA response is "It didn't work, so stop asking about it.) Thing is they are competent, but like voting machines that work for the overcharging owners rather than for those who stand in voting lines, they work for>Them. (oh, as laughter best medicine, both books funny ha ha as well as funny peculiar) (buy used copies, and can buy direct getting info from Amazon, ABE etc., but both titles are searchable on Amazon, look at index, table of contexts {typo but I'll leave it}, key words leading to interesting pages ... I particularly wonder about the Ruby Ridge woman's body not corrupting (pp.93-94, as reported by Colonel Bo Gritz) ala Orthodox saints, then Ronson's segue into Aztec sacrifices. I do wonder what Aztec priests/leaders thought their deal was, as well as Mayans, Sumerians, and the current Pope.)

Have been talking about>"Global warming policy is not complicated" for 2 years now, about Gulf Stream shutdown potentialities actually mattering for about 6, and about central air conditioning efficiency regulations being black and white evidence of political battles being all professional wrestling for 7.

I don't know when Caldera will blow, just think it's interesting that financiers of HAARP, chemtrails and 7 layers beneath Denver Airport don't reassure us that they're working on effective precipitants for volcanic or comet bounced dust, nor tell us such is impossible.

Oh, I've also been telling people for about 3 years to buy bulk food etc., because even if I'm completely wrong about standard geology and everything else, food prices would rise because oil would rise even if no weather disasters. No one, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, monks, in-laws, journalists, cartoonists, that I know of has been crazy enough to put food aside. And 3 years ago it wouldn't have been hoarding but rather a stimulus to production. (if you did or do put aside, don't put public, and e-mail is potentially public: Presidential anti-hoarding directive will probably be enforced pretty nastily, and I suspect has global counterparts. I do wonder what will happen to Utah Mormons.)

I also don't know when earthquakes under ice will be stronger than those in NW Greenland last summer, as reported by UK Guardian last September, just that rain at North Pole last summer, magma close to ice NE Greenland, magma close to ice West Antarctica, hurricane in South Atlantic 3/27-28/04 (confirmed by NY Times as not reported) would be big news stories if such were wanted, i.e. if we were told we should be interested, lots of jokes about wet Santa and hot foot penguins.)

jcairo #66 - could you repost 2nd link? If anyone agrees with me on anything it's a rare surprise.

Have Party conventions ever been both inland before?

Posted by: plushtown | Jul 5 2008 13:57 utc | 67

sorry, stupidly phrased convention question #67: By "ever" my squirrelly brain clearly means "in my lifetime" or perhaps "after air travel became standard." 19th and early 20th century conventions were largely inland, especially GOP. Last time both were inland was 1952, International Amphitheatre Chicago for both, 7/7-11 (R) and 7/21-26 (D).

Posted by: plushtown | Jul 5 2008 14:22 utc | 68

thanks jcairo. i'll take my ice tea hard, barkeep...

plushtown: don't think it's a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with you. if half what you say has any validity, none of us (even Mormoms) are prepared enough. i am always interested in your comments, but the topics you are keen on can make people nervous and ambivalent. can't tell you how many times i've killed conversations at parties by introducing ideas party goers are simply not mentally flexible enough to consider. once you are inside, Chapel Perilous is a bitch.

i have found it beneficial to mentally install an on/off switch so i can function with the rest of the herd, or else i would probably sink into the incapacitating depths of futility.

but i don't think it's futile. in fact, i believe it's absolutely essential information to counter the official narrative of these times, which will be presented all bleached white and twinkly clean to future generations, makes it through whatever dark times lay ahead.

Posted by: Lizard | Jul 6 2008 3:36 utc | 69

hi Lizard, just read your #90 ot 08/24. @ #69 here, thanks for response (and earlier phrasing of agreeing more than liking to acknowledge) and Chapel Perilous link. Disagree with Chapel P. contention that things are complicated, (biological system of elephant in room is complicated, but simple fact is it is an elephant, and carpet {also complicated} is endangered. Think all is as simple and incomprehensible and unfaceable as lust, why "incredible", "unbelievable", "awesome". "unique", "random" and "epicenter" (i.e. "super groovy center" and also a warning/teasing) are misused around the land.

Very top Rockefellers/Rothschilds/Duponts/Morgans are prepared enough. Rest of us are marinated enough.

Posted by: plushtown | Jul 7 2008 7:36 utc | 70

once more into the breach (already written once - PC rebooted, my fault for o'clocking)

plushtown, sorry aboot 2nd link, shoulda checked it foist

it was aboot earthquakes and had animations showing the propagation of the p-waves & s-waves from the epicentre, twasn't specific to your windmill, not important

I was getting the impression that quakes worldwide are the result of ice at or near the poles

I dinna lose any sleep over Gaia's or her 'hood's cataclysmic ability to render life moot and in a rather short time geologically, depending on their whim, there's little we can do after all

It is always good to be prepped for an emergency - Aug 2003 blackout (we had no energy for 24 hours) or ice storms, flooding come to mind...

Chapel Perilous, interesting. Thanks Lizard.

While it is possible to reduce complex things to simple terms, it in no way makes the thing or any solution, any less complex

I would not consider an elephant in a room a biological system of any kind even with a nice berber on the floor

The body of any living thing is, Gaia is and these are not simple systems by any means

Lust is a strong emotional response to some object of desire and while seemingly simple, I've found it can cause complex problems for relationships.

How does that simplify space travel?

Sol threw a rock at us recently. We saw if AFTER it swept by...

The sulphuric acid found from 75,000 years ago is what precipitated from the atmosphere as you suggest we simply do

And, yes they have no clue when Yellowstone will go, just that it will be very, very huge

Don't worry Lizard, I'm no safer where I am, aboot 1/2 a continent away

Que sera

Posted by: jcairo | Jul 7 2008 13:46 utc | 71

was not suggesting precipitating dust out, only finding it interesting that no one speculates pro or con about such, even from comet impacts (presumably not sulphuric) we're all supposed to worry about. And if air or upper atmosphere craft did attempt precipitation, presumably a neutralizing base would be dropped on an acid as part of whatever mix.

On the ground, in trivial quantities, "A concentrated sulphuric acid spill can be neutralised using sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)">link. On the ground, this produces lots of CO2 and a messy foam. Diluted sodium hydroxide will also work on the ground,producing aqueous sodium sulfate and a LOT of heat,>link, but result is supposedly safe now for sewer systems.

I'm not saying restoration of skies is doable, just that no one visible speculates about do-ability or impossibility.

It's like rain at North Pole last summer not being a human interest news item, or even in NY Times at all I think, though did not confirm with Public Editor as I did ignoring of unprecedented hurricane in South Atlantic 4/27-8/04.>Record 22C temperatures in Arctic heatwave/UK Independent 10/3/07

By the way, all of my geology and weather/climate stuff is from mainstream sources, but none of them talk about implications either.

Posted by: plushtown | Jul 7 2008 14:35 utc | 72

re #70, I meant the elephant was a biological system, not its relation to the carpet and the ignorers. Also, would very much like link re "animations showing the propagation of the p-waves & s-waves from the epicentre". Will try searching with quoted clue.

Do think things simple. We are property.

Posted by: plushtown | Jul 7 2008 15:14 utc | 73

We are property.

I'll grant you that.

You can't compare an acid spill on the human scale with one Gaia is capable of. I think you're missing the sense of scale, which is what I was drivin at.

We have comets to thank, apparently, for cool, clean water. Way, way back. I've never read of a sulphuric comet, but it would be a particularly nasty one.

Think we can just nuke a comet/asteroid/meteor? Apparently not. Instead of one largish chunk, you now have many... All depending on when we see it coming. IF we see it coming.

Sulphuric acid is most likely to come from volcanic activity. Volcanic dust will knock jets from the sky. Shuts the engines down. (if you fly ALWAYS wear your seatbelt and stay in your seat as much as possible)

it is possible to over-simplify things, ya know

if i can find that link, I'll post it again in an OT thread.

your elephant analogy doesn't make any sense to me, in the sense of things being simple

the next time the local zoo has an elephant with a toothache, colic or a fluttery heart valve, plushtown is their person?

I've no doubt about your sources, you've put them together in an interesting way is all

just tryin to wrap my noggin around it

Posted by: jcairo | Jul 7 2008 17:30 utc | 74

well, here's one elephant: By standard geology, the ice of Greenland and West Antarctica will be pushed into ocean by inevitable earthquakes. Coasts will be suddenly seriously flooded, tsunamis a bonus.
No one I've seen mentions this, on any "side." Nor when I post it does anyone deny the geology.

another: US elections are clearly false except for the money collecting and disbursing parts, or candidates would care about voting systems counted by people who don't want to sell the printing part of touch screen methods though their cheaper printers for atms and cash registers work just fine. Sequoia management finessed us into the billions spent on the Help America Vote Act by deliberately using bad paper and allowing the confusing butterfly ballot.>link Shouldn't such info destroy Sequoia as a government contractor?

trinity: Anti-Semitism is a trap, the whole Incarnation is clearly a set-up. How can any human group be blamed for something desired by God to purchase dearest bliss for man? But if one wants a group to blame, it would be the Romans, by mode of execution and Passover timing.

Saint Paul got blinded by the light, passed on the favor. I'm a Roman, you're a Roman, get the Jews.

Those are elephants, now adding wombats:

Where'd St. Paul's light come from? Not from where we're told.

At the tippy-top, I don't think Luciferianism (Satanism if you like, same disinfo) is a religion but more an ongoing business deal, but once Luciferian how can one be Buddhist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Jewish, Islamic, Communist etc.?

I also think the blood and suffering of the Holocaust bought a lot, not just geopolitically (all most assuredly not for the good of Israelis) but in what to us would look like Dr. Strange Land but is simply business and entertainment.Ongoing child rapes and sacrifices ditto.

Also, re Bohemian Grove, have not researched but would bet invitations after plutocrats took over and before the end of WWII tended protestant.

btw, Durante had a bit where he'd lead an elephant on stage, get asked by policeman what he's doing with same, reply "What elephant?" to big, big laughs.

Never said we should explode a comet, but in any case that has been discussed visibly and is obviously not workable.

Inside of elephant is not simple.>Presence in room is.

Posted by: plushtown | Jul 8 2008 15:40 utc | 75

never meant to imply anyone said anything aboot comets. That was just another example of how Liliputian our efforts are in comparison to that of Gaia and our little neighbourhood

Anyone ever had a flea ridden cat and dipped it arse first into water until it's face is just above the surface?

All the fleas rush to the face, piling over each other to stay dry

That's the image that popped into my mind when I read some report recently that Canada will be the primo spot on the ol' ball o' dirt, if global warming continues unabated

To mention Lucifer, one must first accept the entirely human fabricated concept of god/devil

I do not

That is not to say that others don't buy into this, some quite heartily

Arcane rituals that bind the little hunter/gatherer groups together in their cultish behaviours...

It isn't that I disagree with your idea, I'm wondering why you sound like the ice is already 3/4 of the way down the slope and picking up speed

I concur there will be a knock-on effect, this seems to play out for many facets of the environment

There is so much pressure at the bottom of a glacier that it generates heat & melts, so that immense weight is somewhat lubricated on the ground & thoughout

regardless, time will tell

Posted by: jcairo | Jul 8 2008 17:47 utc | 76


found the link, i'll leave it here - wave animations

Posted by: jcairo | Jul 8 2008 17:51 utc | 77

"To mention Lucifer, one must first accept the entirely human fabricated concept of god/devil"

No, own belief is it's all the same, just product placement for better marketing. I think chief purpose of Christianity is engendering of anti-Semitism, chief purpose of all factions is to be moeties (Levi-Strauss, not the jeans, though coincidence/cheekiness of names is interesting), seeding sports events, fashions, wars, crusades, complexities.

Also, looks like global warming might not continue unabated. Spots are warming from below, as is ocean (>estimated 3 million active volcanic cones undersea), releasing mucho co2 and creating self feeding system,im-permafrost releasing methane etc., but those that say we're cooling overall may be right, so window of disestablishing entitlement programs etc. may be cathedral narrow.

Posted by: plushtown | Jul 8 2008 18:16 utc | 78

#77, thanks very much for link.

Time will tell, so perhaps history has told.

Posted by: plushtown | Jul 8 2008 18:18 utc | 79

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