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Posts tagged Wall Street Journal

Well then I suppose they will lose their waffle cones as well as their principal.

In recent news, from the Money Monopoly, Ethan Clay, the owner of a Pittsburgh-area ice-cream parlor, has been offering a small-time check-cashing service and community bank through his shop’s gift card system. The interest on deposits is paid out in ice cream gift cards. From the WSJ story, it sounds like he was largely motivated by frustration over fees from the cartelists in the Bureaucratically Correct banking system. So he’s offering a neighborhood alternative that’s designed to minimize fees, offer a moderate rate of interest on deposits, and offer low-interest microloans.

PITTSBURGH–State banking officials want to put the freeze[1] on the owner of an ice-cream parlor who opened a community-bank alternative that pays interest in the form of gift cards for ice cream, waffles and coffee.

Ethan Clay, 31 years old, opened Whalebone Café Bank seven months ago in his shop, Oh Yeah!, a year and a half after he was hit with $1,600 in overdraft fees from a local bank where his account was overdrawn by a series of checks.

Mr. Clay says he wants to offer an alternative banking experience, and has accepted small deposits and made small loans. He claims he isn’t subject to banking rules because his operation is a gift-card savings account.

. . . Mr. Clay’s ice-cream-bank novelty is drawing attention at a time when people, irritated over banking fees and overdraft penalties, are increasingly looking to alternatives to traditional banking. Today, 8.2% of the nation’s households—up from 7.7% in 2009—are managing their finances without a bank, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

. . . Mr. Clay said he has $550 from depositors and has loaned $1,700, an amount that includes some of his own seed money. My goal is to get to $100,000 in deposits by Dec. 21, he said. This is the prototype, but I hope to become the neighborhood bank.

He said he came up with the idea after he paid 45 fees at $35 each to his local bank. If I’m overdrawn by 64 cents, the bank should charge me 10 cents and not $20, said Mr. Clay. At some point, he said he might have to consider a small penalty for borrowers who spend money they don’t have.

You have to have a way of making it uncomfortable for people to be overdrawn, he said.

— John W. Miller, Wall Street Journal (2012-09-13)

The story doesn’t mention anything about it, but I expect that accepting the deposits would also be a good way for Clay to capitalize his small business without having to go through the high volumes or bureaucratic demands for getting standard business loans from a bank, and without paying off the Money Monopolist’s skim. In any case, the prospect of a community alternative to cartel banking is certainly more than enough for the Pennsylvania Department of Banking to leap into action. My God, the man is threatening to compete. And he isn’t even a banker!

Now of course I do in general terms understand the cartelizing function of banking regulations, and the role that they play in insulating incumbent capitalists from the threat of market competition. And I know that these cartelizing and insulating functions are in fact, and always have been, the essence and the raison d’être of the regulations. And I realize that there really isn’t any micromanaging defend-the-status-quo, control-at-any-cost argument so baldfacedly idiotic that it can’t still be assimilated and rationalized and seriously produced by the internal logic of bureaucratic rationality. Still, when I read this stuff from a guy like Ed Novak, Spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Banking …

It’s a strange case, we don’t have the authority to go close an ice-cream store, said Ed Novak, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Banking. But we are going to do something. You can’t mess with people’s money.[2]

. . . There are other issues, as well. Oh Yeah! does not have depositors insurance. If a bank goes under, the depositors get their money back, said Mr. Novak. If the ice-cream store goes under, who knows what happens?[3]

— John W. Miller, Wall Street Journal (2012-09-13)

… I do still find myself wondering, at some level, how you ever get to a point in your life when you can actually say this kind of stuff without just falling over laughing at yourself. In any case, when he ventures to say it in public, the rest of us ought to at the very least to pick up the slack and laugh him out of the room for it.

In any case, here’s a bit more from Novak:

There is also the question of enforcing banking charters, which licenses institutions to cash checks. Banking in the 19th century was a hit-or-miss proposition, says Mr. Novak. And we have a banking system now to make sure that that’s not the issue.

— John W. Miller, Wall Street Journal (2012-09-13)

Now, of course, you can’t mess with people’s money, and we don’t have any of that hit-or-miss stuff. You can’t mess with people’s money because now we have a Banking System which owns all the money, and only allows you to do what they please with it. And within the enclosed game reserve of that Banking System, there is no hit-or-miss: government guarantees that megacapitalists like Citi and J.P. Morgan-Chase will bag their targets.[4] Whether you think all this is a good thing or not depends on how much you like being in the crosshairs.

Also.

  1. [1][The Editor would like to extend his apologies. The Wall Street Journal story seems to exist mostly in order to print as many awful journalistic puns as you can fit in the available space. –RG]
  2. [2][This was apparently said with a straight face. –R.G.]
  3. [3][This too. –R.G.]
  4. [4]If they should miss on their first shot, FDIC and TARP will roll up in a tank and open fire on their behalf.

Dick Cheney’s Greatest Hits

So this week we learned that Vice President Dick Cheney created a CIA hit squad taking orders directly from his office — a little factoid which he happened to keep secret throughout the remainder of the Bush Administration. From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The CIA withheld information from the U.S. Congress about a secret counterterrorism program on orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, a senator said on Sunday as Democrats called for an investigation. … The still-secret program, which The New York Times said never became operational, began after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.

The Wall Street Journal said the secret initiative terminated by Panetta was an effort to carry out a 2001 authorization by then Republican President George W. Bush to capture or kill al Qaeda operatives.

— Reuters (2009-07-12): Cheney hid CIA program from Congress: senator

Let’s get some reactions from arch-liberal power-brokers Patrick Leahy and Diane Feinstein:

Feinstein and Democrat Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, insisted no one should go outside the law.

Asked about Cheney’s alleged involvement, Leahy told the CBS program Face the Nation: I’d like to know if it’s true or not. I mean, nobody in this country is above the law … You can’t have somebody say, well, if you’re vice president, you don’t have to obey the law.

Feinstein said Congress should have been told.

This is a big problem, because the law is very clear. And I understand the need of the day, which was when America was in shock after September 11, she said on Fox. But … I think you weaken your case when you go outside of the law.

— Reuters (2009-07-12): Cheney hid CIA program from Congress: senator

Oh, well. It was wrong because it wasn’t The Law.

So, just so we’re clear, if Cheney and Bush had gotten Congress to change the federal laws so that it would be perfectly legal for the Vice President of the United States to create unaccountable secret international death squads that take orders from, and report only to the highest levels of, Executive power, would that have somehow made it alright?

Really?

See also:

Wednesday Lazy Linking

  • … but the streets belong to the people! Jesse Walker, Hit & Run (2009-06-10): The People’s Stop Sign. In which people in an Ottawa neighborhood take nonviolent direct action to slow down the traffic flying down their neighborhood streets — by putting up their own stop signs at a key intersection. The city government, of course, is now busy with a Criminal Investigation of the public’s heinous contribution to public safety.

  • Abolitionism is the radical notion that other people are not your property. Darian Worden (2009-06-09): The New Abolitionists The point is that the principles of abolitionism, which held that regardless of popular justifications no human is worthy to be master and no human can be owned by another, when carried to their logical conclusion require this: that no human is worthy of authority over another, and that no person is owed allegiance simply because of political status. When reason disassembles the popular justifications of statism, as advances in political philosophy since the 1850’s have assisted in doing, the consistent abolitionist cannot oppose the voluntaryist principles of the Keene radicals.

  • Mr. Obama, Speak For Yourself. Thomas L. Knapp, Center for a Stateless Society (2009-09-09): Speaking of the State

  • A campaign of isolated incidents. Ellen Goodman, Houston Chronicle (2009-06-08): Sorry, but the doctor’s killer did not act alone

  • Let’s screw all the little guys. Just to be fair. (Or, pay me to advertise my product on your station.) Jesse Walker, Reason (2009-06-09): The Man Can’t Tax Our Music: The music industry wants to impose an onerous new fee on broadcasters.

  • Some dare call it torture. Just not the cops. Or the judges. Wendy McElroy, WendyMcElroy.com (2009-06-08): N.Y. Judge Rules that Police Can Taser Torture in order to coerce compliance with any arbitrary court order. I think that Wendy is right to call pain compliance for what it is — torture (as I have called it here before) — and that it is important to insist on this point as much as possible whenever the topic comes up.

  • On criminalizing compassion. Macon D., stuff white people do (2009-06-05), on the conviction of Walt Staton for knowingly littering water jugs in a wildlife refuge, in order to keep undocumented immigrants from dying in the desert.

  • Freed markets vs. deforesters. Keith Goetzman, Utne Reader Environment (2009-06-04): Do You Know Where Your Shoes Have Been?, on the leather industry and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Utne does a good job of pointing out (by quoting Grist’s Tom Philpott) that the problem is deeply rooted in multi-statist neoliberalism: because of the way in which the Brazilian government and the World Bank act together to subsidize the cattle barons and ‘roid up Brazilian cattle ranching, the report is really about the perils of using state policy to prop up global, corporate-dominated trade.

  • Well, Thank God. (Cont’d.) Thanks to the Lord Justice, we now know that Pringles are, in fact, officially potato chips, not mere savory snacks, in spite of the fact that only about 40% of a Pringles crisp is actually potato flour. Language Log takes this case to demonstrate the quasi-Wittgensteinian point that, fundamentalist legal philosophy to one side, there’s actually no such thing as a self-applying law. (Quoting Adam Cohen’s New York Times Op-Ed, Conservatives like to insist that their judges are strict constructionists, giving the Constitution and statutes their precise meaning and no more [linguists groan here], while judges like [Sonia] Sotermayor are activists. But there is no magic way to interpret terms like free speech or due process — or potato chip.) I think the main moral of the story has to do with the absurdity of a political system in which whether or not you can keep $160,000,000 of your own damn money rides on whether or not you can prove to a judge that your savory snack hasn’t got the requisite potatoness to count as a potato crisp for the purposes of law and justice.

  • Small riots will get small attention, no riots get no attention, make a big riot, and it will be handled immediately. Loretta Chao, Wall Street Journal (2009-05-30): In China, a New Breed of Dissidents. The story makes it seem as though the most remarkable thing about the emerging dissident movement is that they are safe enough for the State to tolerate them, rather than launching all out assaults as they did against the Tienanmen dissidents in 1989. Actually, I think that that misses the point entirely; and that the most interesting thing is that they have adopted such flexible and adaptive networking, both tactically and strategically, and that they now so often rise up from the very social classes that the Chinese Communist Party claims to speak for (not just easily-demonized students and intelligentsia, but ordinary farmers, factory workers, and retirees) — that the regime isn’t tolerating them; it just no longer knows what to do with them.

  • Counter-Cooking and Mutual Meals. Julia Levitt, Worldchanging: Bright Green (2009-06-03): Community Kitchens (Via Kevin Carson’s Shared Items.) If I may recommend, if you’re going to work on any kind of community cooking like this, particularly if you’re interested in it partly for reasons of resiliency and building community alternatives, you should do what you can to make sure that it is strongly connected with the local grey-market solidarity economy, through close cooperation with your local Food Not Bombs (as both a source and a destination for food) and other local alternatives to the state-subsidized corporate-consumer model for food distribution.

  • Looking Forward. Shawn Wilbur, In the Libertarian Labyrinth (009-06-06): Clement M. Hammond on Police Insurance. An excerpt on policing in a freed society, from individualist anarchist Clement M. Hammond’s futurist utopian novel, Then and Now which originally appeared in serialized form in Tucker’s Liberty in 1884 and 1885. (Thus predating Bellamy’s dreary Nationalist potboiler by 4 years.) Hammond’s novel is now available in print through Shawn’s Corvus Distribution. The good news is that, while Bellamy’s date of 2000 has already mercifully passed us by without any such society emerging, we still have almost 80 years to get it together in time for Hammond’s future.

  • Here at Reason we never pass up a chance to have some fun at the expense of Pete Seeger. Jesse Walker, Hit & Run (2009-06-09): They Wanna Hear Some American Music. On brilliant fakery, the invention of Country and Western music, the cult of authenticity, and the manufacture of Americana. For the long, full treatment see Barry Mazor, No Depression (2009-02-23): Americana, by any other name…

  • Anarchy on the Big Screen. Colin Firth and Kevin Spacey have signed on for a big-screen film adaptation of Homage to Catalonia. The film is supposed to enter production during the first half of 2010.

Technological civilization is awesome. (Cont’d.)

Communications

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