A few months back, my wife said she got a solicitation from JP Morgan Chase, the big-shot banking monolith offering a 3.99 percent interest rate if she would simply move over to them debt from another card.
Everyone has credit card debt and the promise of lower interest rates is a good way to bring them down faster. So she did.
We've made the timely payments, use it occasionally. But our goal has been from the get-go to reduce all our credit card related debt. Last year's stimulus payment from President Bush went to pay credit card bills, and so did this year's income tax return.
It's probably the same for most people. The single greatest economic challenge we face is credit card debt, worsened only by the lack of ethics of the credit card owners and banking industry.
Last week, J.P. Morgan Chase sent my wife a letter filled with all that micro-type. When I read it, I discovered the bank decided on its own -- because it said, it has the power to do so -- to raise the transfer interest rate on the card to 16.24 percent or "Prime Rate plus 12.99 percent."
That's an increase not only in the balance transfer rate which was 3.99 percent, but also the overall credit card rate which, until next month, was only 11.24 percent.
The letter states very clearly, "The above rates apply to current and future balances on your account" with the words "current and future balances" in bold-face type just to make the point that they are lying low-life scumbags.
Our only option is to pay off the entire balance or they will punish us by sending their claim (uncontested and unchallenged) to the credit rating companies which are in cahoots with the banks.
So who is on our side?
Not Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois State Treasurer who says that the problem with the credit cards isn't the banks -- including the one his family owns -- but the people who use them. It's our fault he told me on a recent radio show interview.
He wants to be the U.S. Senator from Illinois. I'd rather have an incompetent in office like the senile Roland Burris than someone like Giannoulias whose blood runs blue with banking industry blood and has this arrogant condescending view of the victims of credit card abuse.
Thankfully, President Obama has announced he plans to take on the banking industry and their routine abuses of credit card holders. Legislation is making its way through the Congress to prevent J.P. Morgan Chase and others from doing what they just did to my wife.
The credit card agreement should be a two-way street contract. The fact is it isn't. The burden, all of the burden, is on the backs of the credit card holder. The credit card company has some risk, but that's the cost of doing business.
They say some people don't pay their bills. Really? Then don't give so many credit cards out. But the fact is they can afford to lose some credit card users to the bankruptcy courts and non-payment because they have the punitive options as measures on their side to make the lives of the non-paying card holders miserable.
What do we have when a banking tyrant like J.P. Morgan Chase decides on its own to jack up the interest rates? We make our payments on time. We pay more than the minimum balance and only use it occasionally. In a year, it will be gone.
And that's exactly what the greedy banking low-life's fear the most. That this country will get itself out from under the grip of the credit card scumbag bankers like J.P. Morgan Chase.
I am all for the banks being forced to stop acting like outfit thugs, muscling consumers with fear and deceit and lies and unjustified credit card rates. I am all for making the lying, cheating bankers live up to their handshake and their worthless words.
I am also all for having the government impose stiff fines on every credit card company that abuses its customers and breaks its contracted promises. I am for the credit card companies paying huge fines and interest rates and giving the government more control of the banks.
When it comes to the food chain. I have more respect for the bag-man working for the mob than I do for the slimy J.P. Morgan Bankers. They're at the bottom.
I would rather have government nationalization of the banks and take my chances with our corrupt government where I know crooks occasionally go to jail than watch as the bankers make a mockery of our country.
The banking industry takes our taxpayer handouts with one hand at the lowest possible interest rates and then whine when the rules are adjusted. And with their other hand, they dish out million dollar bonuses to the corrupt managers and corporate officers who brought their own companies to their knees with policies driven by greed.
The worst part of all this is that J.P. Morgan Chase knows that the very week that Obama is moving to prevent them and other sleaze-ball banks from arbitrarily raising interest rates, legislation is working its way through Congress to prevent it.
Obama is meeting with the heads of 14 of the biggest credit card companies today. J.P. Morgan Chase is one of those banks. Its Midwest office is headed by Mayor Daley's brother, Bill Daley, who hangs around in Obama's basketball playing circles.
Stay tough Mr. President. And watch your back. These bankers don't play by the rules.
Bill Daley wants to be the U.S. Senator, too. Don't they all?
I think we should pass a rule and say that if you have been convicted of a felony -- or served in any capacity at a bank, especially and including in management -- you are prohibited from voting or running for public office.
In fact, you should have your freedom revoked. Immediately. Put that in micro-type and bold-face, too, and mail it out to the banks right away!
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and morning radio talk show host in Chicago. He can be reached at www.RadioChicagoland.com and by email at email@example.com.)
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