The Demonization of Credit Card Companies

by Kevin on May 21, 2009

(Photo by Omar Omar)

Yesterday both houses of Congress passed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD). It will soon be sent to the desk of the President for his approval.

I said yesterday that I’m all for regulating abusive practices in any industry. Yet it does make me wary that the government wants to get involved with literally everything. I still believe in personal responsibility.

Which brings me to today’s topic. I’m hoping I don’t get burned at the stake. I read this amazing article over at brip blap and was inspired.

Why Are We Focusing Only On Credit Card Companies?

Credit cards are just like any other business operating in America today. They are profit-maximizing entities designed to provide income and profits to their shareholders (owners). They provide jobs for thousands of workers across the nation.

Oh, and until recently, it was seen as a good thing to be financing your life, career, or small business on a credit card. Funny how quickly things change.

Have some credit card companies used deceptive and abusive practices to increase profits?

Of course. Have some college students cheated on exams? Of course. Have some baseball players used illegal substances? Of course.

It is really easy to use one or two examples in an industry to point the finger and bring the mob of angry protesters to a company’s door. Again, I’m not saying it isn’t deserved in some cases.

Call me naive, but I just don’t believe that every single person with credit card debt was a victim. There are some individuals with piles of credit card debt that are also surrounded by new televisions, new computers, new clothes, and new kitchen appliances. They made choices. Debt today, stuff today.

Let’s Lynch Other Industries While We Are At It

So if we’re going to purge America of all things “evil” let’s take a look at some other industries:

  • soda companies
  • alcohol companies
  • cigarette companies
  • unhealthy snack food companies
  • gambling organizations

Hopefully you understand where I’m going with this.

Why not soda companies? I am surrounded by people at work that start drinking “Diet” Coke and Dr. Pepper at 7:30 in the morning. They equate it to coffee. Yet sodas (along with many other factors) have led to an increase in diabetes in this country — and we’re addicted to it. Carbonated water with sugar syrup in it. Mmmmm.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Coke or Barq’s root beer. But these things are bad for me. So why doesn’t the government shut them down, too?

Beer isn’t terribly good for you either and has been implicated in thousands of DUI instances across the country. Drivers that drive under the influence can kill innocent people. We should ban beer and wine, too.

I Don’t Want the Government to Protect Me from Everything

Here’s the kicker: I’m responsible for myself. It all goes back to personal responsibility. If I use credit cards in a dumb way, then I deserve to pay interest on the purchase. If I use soda the wrong way then I had best understand I’m facing diabetes and being unhealthy squarely in the face. If I use cigarettes I must understand that I am increasing my chances of lung cancer.

What’s odd is that in some instances instead of banishing the industry entirely our government decides to profit from it as well! Let’s just throw a hefty tax on every pack of cigarettes and ignore the other consequences of allowing them to exist. Where there is high tax revenue the government usually opts to look the other way. I’m sort of surprised it didn’t happen in this case as well.

I use credit cards every day. I carry absolutely no cash with me. I also don’t overspend and we stick to our budget.

What’s the key for me? Personal responsibility – a dying concept in America.

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