Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hoist the black flag

In the last few weeks, I have had two delightful interactions with the federal government. Each interaction has cost me time and money, and I have received no benefit from either transaction.

My first interaction occurred due to my savings account with my bank. While moving into a new apartment and taking care of several financial obligations, I had to make a number of unexpected transfers from my savings account to my checking account. When I reviewed my statement, I discovered a charge for transferring money in that manner. Considering my bank had never disclosed that such a fee would exist (not even in the little pamphlet given to me), I found this irritating. Upon navigating the phone system and reaching a person at my bank, I learned that this fee is mandated by the federal government to keep people from treating their savings account as a checking account.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but I certainly do not see the necessity of the federal government interfering in a contract between myself and the bank. If the fee was charged by the bank as an administrative matter (and disclosed beforehand), then it would not bother me since I could find a different bank more attuned to my needs as a customer. However, by mandating this, the federal government both inconveniences me and destroys competition among banks on this type of fee. Apparently, the justification given by the federal government is "ensuring that financial institutions maintain adequate reserves for the funds on deposit." It seems to me there is an easy correction for institutions that fail to maintain adequate funds: they lose customers and go out of business.

The second interaction occurred when I attempted to apply for a second credit card. The application was approved, but the bank could not issue the card because they could not verify my address. As mentioned above, I had recently moved and I have a tendency not to receive mail at my physical address, so it made my address somewhat unclear. However, I called and talked to the bank, verified my past addresses, my current balance on my other credit card, my social security number, and a few other pieces of information.

All of this was for naught, though, because the federal government, in the name of "fighting terrorism," has mandated that a credit card applicant must provide certain bits of paper. Never mind that I had called the bank and provided everything but a blood sample or that the bank had decided it was a financially sound move to issue me a card with a fairly large credit limit; only certain papers would suffice when proving I'm not a radical with explosive plans (I'm not sure how a phone bill for a land line proves I'm legitimate, but the federal government is nothing if not ridiculous in its security state designs). Once again, the federal government managed to meddle in my affairs and destroy otherwise smoothly-operating business relationships.

Of course, despite the reference in the post title, there is little I can do about these wonderful policies. A majority of the populace appears to enjoy having the federal government involved in every aspect of their lives, so those of us that do not wish for that sort of government end up getting it anyway. I will reduce my use of banks, but that's about the limit of my options (incidentally, Bank of America, the second bank, can kiss my ass for their rude customer service). Other than that, I must be content with saying "goddamn, I hate the federal government."


At 3:05 PM, December 05, 2007 , Blogger Vernunft said...

What's really awesome is how the savings account has that awesome interest rate. In return for limited liquidity, you have this beautiful, enormous* rate of return to play around with. So really the government is just trying to get you to help yourself, man. Make way for help!

*actual rate is below inflation


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