But, Why?

Here’s the answer to “Why on earth did you buy a pack of cigarettes when you quit smoking years ago?”

I was mad.   And worked up and frustrated and any number of other uncomplimentary, non-peaceful things.

Instead of trying to find a temple to throw the money changers out of, or a grand palace to destroy by pushing over the great hall support columns, or even grabbing a weapon and a clip full of bullets, I smoked, by myself, and inhaled deeply so as not to let too much smoke escape into the atmosphere, thus endangering my fellow man.

See?  I can think of others, even when in a toot –

Here’s the source of my anger:

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There is a phenomena in our financial systems that has long eluded me and if you don’t live paycheck to paycheck, or if you have some savings and credit cards, you will most likely be in ignorance of:

I call it the “Mysterious Cyber Float”.

Here’s what happens – If I’m paid, either by check, credit card or PayPal, upon deposit or transfer, the money, if small in amount, magically appears in my checking account the next business day.

If I write a check to another, even if it’s for a large amount, the day after they deposit it, it shows up as a withdrawal from my account.

But let me receive payment in an amount that may, when added to other like amounts, really rack up some interest in a day or two of sitting and a magical thing happens –

The money floats somewhere, for anywhere from 3-5 days.

The issuer will swear it has been paid – my recipient bank will swear they first received it four days later.

And, I will be told, I cannot access the funds, until they make sure the funds have ‘cleared’ while in the next breath, they assure me any checks I write will clear within 24 hours and if there are non-sufficient funds, woe to me.

I cannot argue or disagree with any of these points – they were all spelled out for me when I signed on the dotted line.   Just because small amounts magically transfer and can be put to use within 1 business day, consistently, time after time, does not mean anything – the fine print says the funds should be available in “3-4 business days.”

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The only reason I was reminded of this phenomena was that I wrote a check from business to personal the day after I ‘transferred’ online funds – the check showed up for payment 2 days before my ‘online transfer’ was completed.   And was returned – –

Thankfully for me, the returned check was to myself and I won’t be charging me a fee…

I accept full responsibility for writing a check against funds I had not confirmed had arrived and for not calling the bank to see if I was allowed to use my money yet.

And I will pay the resultant fees –

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I’ve long believed that I exist in a system that is not to my favor or even neutral about my existence.   I see idiosyncrasies such as the magical “24 hour clearance for you” vs. “3-4 day wait for us”  in many other forms and I’ve come to the conclusion –

I want out.

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Another example of our current system that burns my arse is the Labor Market.

For some time, Temp Hiring has been gaining favor with big businesses and has, in my estimation, become another form of indentured servitude and is further hurting the laboring populace – as if the current labor market wasn’t damaging us enough….

For an hourly wage of $15, I can work at your business, putting my life’s blood into helping your business succeed while you see if I fit in and work out, without any fear of lawsuits, should you decide to let me go.  You get help for your business, I earn a paycheck and the temp agency makes money for taking the time to evaluate me and the risk that you may not like me.

I will labor long and hard to streamline and make efficient your operations, even if all you originally wanted me to do was data entry – yes, if I think I can help, I’ll offer.  If you say “It’s a Go” I go and work – 12 hour days, if necessary.

The money I just saved your business would  have paid the $15/hour wage AND benefits for three years into the future.

But once everything is running nicely, you ask me to come on board, permanently, for $8/hour and no benefits for the first two years.

And when I politely decline, asking for the $15 and/or benefits, you inform me there are plenty of folks that are willing to work for that, even if I’m not – somehow inferring that I’m asking for too much.

Well, yes… you can get any number of people for $8/hour – but they won’t be me.  Had I not streamlined your procedures and cleaned up your processes – you would have to hire 3 of those someones to do what I can do in one day – is that not worth something?

This is the reason why the “Consulting” industry is taking off – people like me have figured out that it is way less riskier to start your own consulting business than it is to invest in a company and find no loyalty whatsoever in return or be permanently in the ‘temp hires’ category, because you can’t afford to accept permanent work.

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So, with this little history lesson on why I think the way I do –  I’ll share what was on my mind yesterday as I puffed away and imagined the demise of unfair and unjust systems –

Ready for this ‘too much nicotine induced rant’?

“To all banks, insurance companies, politicians, empire builders and others of your ilk from a Working American –

You need me and those like me –  we do not need you.   If we are not working to produce needed services and goods, there is nothing for you to transfer, charge fees on, regulate, invest in, tax or bet on whether we succeed or not.

If we are only worth $8 an hour and you are worth $62.2 million per year, then obviously, you’re a much better worker and you don’t need us, anyways.  Good luck building your empire all by your lonesome.

I may never recover my footing enough to be of any consequence to you, but you’d better hope you finish the job in destroying me.

For know this – I’ve dedicated my life to building a sustainable and resilient life – not just for me, but for my community as well.   I seek any opportunity I can to cut you out of the middle, where you invent ways to make money that is, at best, trying to sell air and at worst, larceny on the grandest scale.

And if ever given the chance, I will destroy the system you laud, admire and acclaim, brick by brick.

Those who labored within the system, not knowing it’s true form will be welcome to eat at my table.

But for those who knew and found ever new ways to systematically transfer wealth from the disadvantaged to the privileged…

Well, you can starve and I won’t shed a tear…

The New Money

Road my lead where you do not wish to follow
Road my lead where you do not wish to follow

I’m old enough to remember life before credit/debit cards.   My earliest memory of credit was running a tab at your local business and paying at the end of the month or writing a check against a loan you took out at the bank.

My ‘credit score’ when I started my adult life consisted of community knowledge regarding who my parents were, where I worked and the belief that if my family borrowed, they paid it back.

I also remember the decade or more of consistent bombardment regarding how our money system was evolving towards a completely electronic one.   All the benefits of an electronic banking system were touted, ad nauseam:

“It’s safer and cheaper than writing a check or paying cash” and “Electronic is good for the environment – less paper use” are two of the promises I most remember.

This morning’s news story on new Checkout surcharges for credit card purchases reminded me that the future of electronic banking promised in the 70’s and 80’s is not what we are living today.

As with most other things, there is no free lunch.  Money saved from laborious processes and paper-handling has enriched owners/investors in credit companies, not saved money for the average merchant or consumer.

Those who have weathered life’s storms but took longer than usual to bounce back from their traumas are seen as irresponsible and unworthy of any future benefits.

Identity theft, hacking, phishing and other Modern Day Bandit methods have replaced good ole’ burglary, larceny and fraud by selling snake oil.

Per-sweep charges, transaction charges and merchant account fees mean higher overall prices for everyone, including those who pay cash, who do not reap Point Rewards and are usually the ones with the least amount of disposable income to squander on built-in transaction fees.

I also find it interesting that in a time when the nation is full of “We must get out of debt – personally and nationally”, the news, op eds and blogs are filled with outrage over banks and credit card companies raising their rates and fees.

If we are all striving to be debt free and doing our best not to incur new debt, they have to make money some way other than interest on loans – why do raised fees surprise us?

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Our credit score now determines not only if we are worthy of getting a new home or car, but whether we can qualify for required vehicle insurance, health insurance, nab that interview, new job or even if we are good enough to date, let alone marry.

In other words, those who thought the birth of the Social Security System and their assigned number was the “Mark of the Beast” from biblical Revelations were wrong –

666  actually refers to your credit score.  It affects where you live, what you can buy, whether you work or not.   It can block you from reasonably priced products that are required by law (vehicle insurance) and you may only be a law abiding citizen if you can afford it.

Should we choose to abolish cash to adopt a fully electronic banking system, using the system as it exists today – Financial Armageddon is not far behind for anyone.