…like magpies drawn to some shiny object, the fabulous banker boyz were deep sixing Elizabeth Warren for head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
(One of our commenters said that ‘racism has been weaponized’. Pretty much.)
I’m not surprised that they hate Warren’s guts. The consumer finance industry is juicy with rent type devices. Here’s a good example: I tried to convert some dollars into euros for my daughter’s upcoming trip to France. Went to my bank to do the deal. No can do. I would have had to order the euros 3 days in advance. They don’t keep euros laying around, you silly customer of 22 years. I didn’t have time for that so the bank directed me to a money changer in the mall. So, I went there and found that they weren’t offering the current exchange rate. No, their exchange rate was much higher. Fees, you say. Nope, worse than that. The cashier said that the currency operator negotiated its own exchange rate for euros and then charged a fee on top of it. The fee was waived if you exchanged more than $500. But even if I had it, who in their right mind sends a teenager abroad with more than $500 in cash?
The final rate for the exchange on July 6, 2010 at the ubiquitous ripoff currency exchanger was going to be $151.00 for 100€. Needless to say, I passed, bought her a Visa with some emergency money on it and put her on the plane with her US cash, instructing her to get her host family to make the conversion at the French end, which they did for the correct exchange rate.
But wait! There’s more. We got to the airport and at the very last minute, got charged an additional $100 unaccompanied minor fee. This fee pays for a flight attendant to take your kid’s passport, put it in an envelope, and escort the kid to the waiting family at the arrival gate. $100 buckaroos. Pay up or the kid never leaves Kennedy, which is a fate worse than death. I mean, have you *been* to Kennedy? Was there any mention of this fee at the time the (ridiculously expensive) ticket was purchased online where the kid’s age was clearly entered in the age field of the ticket form? No, there was not. The same thing happened to the host family on the French end resulting in a $100 last minute fee for their kid too. Surprise! Surprise! (Should I mention the airline? Ok, it was Delta)
See, with an Elizabeth Warren type, I’m thinking that abuses like this would happen with less frequency. And the only reason they’re happening now is because there is no one watching the store. Put in a less competent or committed individual and it will be one little rip off after another. My little example from my “overprivileged” lifestyle is just the tip of the iceberg. Consider all the ATM fees, the wireless fees that are *supposed* to go towards building better networks but don’t, the teaser rate mortgages, the financial services fees from people who are managing your 401K but don’t seem to think they owe you a decent return on your investment. Stuff like that. A billion here, a billion there and pretty soon we’re talking about real money. *YOUR* real money. Maybe the wealthy don’t think these fees are a big deal but the rest of us can’t afford to keep shelling out hidden costs and surprise last minute fees and astronomical interest rates.
Anyway, that’s what was going on while you were distracted by the unfortunate saga of Ms. Shirley Sherrod, may she live long and prosper at an agency that will appreciate her dedication and enlightened attitude.
More on what the new Financial Reform bill and what it will do, or NOT do, can be found in this Fresh Air interview with Benjamin Applebaum of the NYTimes.
Update: ABCNews reports that Warren will be “actively involved” in the Consumer Finance Protection Agency that she helped to create. Oooo!, isn’t that special. Maybe they’ll let her pick out an agency logo or choose the colors for the offices. My leg is all tingly. Actually, this news is depressing. But don’t despair. There’s probably another racism story in the works to take our minds off of it.