Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Hereby Join the Occupy Wall Street Movement

The movement afoot in the country at the moment to "Occupy Wall Street" might be too topical for it to endure, and its incoherence (what do these people want?) might make it fall apart like a sand castle at high tide. Then again, the movement's incoherence might instead be its strength. It becomes a place to air one's own grievances, gives voice to a diversity of ills, while having the focus of place and people we might hold responsible. In fact, holding corporations responsible for the country's ills, rather than "big government" might just be the right place, since corporations control our government, and the government is now really just a tool of the corporations.

I don't know if incoherence will work, but it just might. After all, obfuscation is the preferred method of confusing the masses, for example, on just who is responsible for this recession (2011). The Republicans certainly don't want the masses to think "stock market crash 2008," nor remember that the housing bubble burst just before that, or derivatives, or deregulation of the banks. Soon, voters will be thinking that Obama is responsible for all of it. I got an email just last night from the Tea Party, and even further to the right, into Separatist territory—the guys that want to re-revolutionize our Constitution—a "Declaration to Restore the Constitutional Republic." The fringe has now moved into the mainstream.

So, is the "Occupy Wall Street" a "tea party" as well? Well, no, it's not financed by billionaires like the tea party is, and the people who're out marching on Wall Street are there because...well...because they've got grievances beyond getting rid of President Obama. I have concerns, too, and that's why I'm joining the movement—albeit virtually.

Credit Card Reform?
When Congress and the President "reformed" the credit card industry, for example, they gave the banks ninety days to get their machinery into place before the reforms took place. And the banks sent out the changes to the credit card agreements while they still could. They raised the minimum interest rates to 17 percent to 21 percent, whereas they used to have rates as low as 9 percent. Any new credit card offers come with "low" interest rates of between 17 and 21 percent.

Bank of America has just announced debit card recurring fees, making debit cards less preferable than they used to be. They noted that consumers were using debit cards instead of credit cards and by imposing a new host of fees on debit cards, consumers will return to using credit cards at the grocery store to buy milk and eggs and will thereby build 21 percent interest into those consumables—as they were before the crash of 2008.

Deregulation? Here We Go Again.
How is it that the banks have virtually no interest rates that enable them to borrow money from one another, at around 1 percent, and yet they must double and triple interest rates to consumers? They do it because the government and the politicians allow them to. This keeps ordinary American in thrall to their debt.

Payday Loans
Further, there has been a rise in the loan-shark industry. You now see a "Payday Loans" company on virtually every street corner that isn't also occupied by a Starbucks. These companies prey on the least able to pay. "Payday" loans are small, short-term loans made by check cashers or similar businesses at extremely high interest rates. Typically, a borrower writes a personal check for $100-$300, plus a fee, payable to the lender. The lender agrees to hold onto the check until the borrower's next payday, usually one week to one month later; only then will the check be deposited. In return, the borrower gets cash immediately. The fees for payday loans are extremely high: up to $17.50 for every $100 borrowed, up to a maximum of $300. The interest rates for such transactions are staggering: 911% for a one-week loan; 456% for a two-week loan, 212% for a one-month loan. (Source: Consumer's Union). But is the government regulating this industry? Barely. I would be more likely to believe that many congressmen have investments in the industry.

The Crumbling of America
Our infrastructure is crumbling all across America, from bridges to roads and rail. Our government, now paralyzed by Republicans and spineless Democrats, will not address these issues.

Our public schools are falling apart and teachers can't teach in the environment that exists in the schools. The best of them fund their own classroom supplies, since school budgets no longer provide them. I know teachers who also buy books for their students.

Our politicians have no clue how to help consumers pay for the high cost of health care. Rather than figuring out how to pay for this high cost health care, they should be figuring out ways to lower the costs. But they're not. In reality, the health care providers, the prescription drug companies, and all associated corporations are the ones writing the legislation. I want health care costs brought down, not try to figure out a way to pay whatever the medical professions says the costs are. I recently had a small skin-cancer spot on my chest scraped off by a dermatologist. It took a minute. It cost over a thousand dollars. My health insurance paid a portion of it. I was left owing $300.00 on my own. I don't want the politicians to figure out a way to pay for this. I want politicians in Congress to simply lower the costs of this service. Did you know there is a related industry that supplies hospital quality furniture to hospitals? I'm not talking about the patient beds, but the chairs, sofas, drapes—anything a hospital could purchase from a local furniture store. But no, they have to pay $5,000.00 for a waiting room sofa from a hospital furniture provider, rather than buying one for $500.00. The costs are passed onto patients. You need a pain pill of OTC medication? You'll pay prescription-rate prices. The medical industry is an all-you-can-charge buffet.

Right wingers take umbrage when someone points out that health care costs in other countries is a tenth or a hundredth of the costs here in the US and that it is universal health care. They counter with the notion that our system is the best medical system in the world. Woah, Nellie! It's not even close to being the best health care in the world. Among the first world countries, the US is somewhere near the bottom. That's because our government is owned and operated by the health care corporations. Why do our prescription drugs cost so much, when in the rest of the world, the same drugs, by the same companies are so much less expensive?

Yes, the system is gamed here in the US, gamed by what Wall Street represents, gamed by the one-percent club, the filthy rich, the multinational corporations. I don't want to bring these corporations down. I want to make them live by the same rules that the rest of us have to live by—laws and taxes.

No comments:

Post a Comment