Saturday, 1 October 2011

Numbers

There's this odd thing about statistics that came out today....a growing number of Latinos....are listing themselves as white.  This comes from the US Census folks.  The cause of this?  Well....they can generally speculate about this because it's hard to have a full and complete answer.

Back around 1980, the government made up the Census and asked Latinos to use "other race" in order to get you to the right column on the form.  The government then decided in 2010......that Latinos weren't actually a race, and had to put themselves into a category....like white or black.  There's some numbers that fall into place at this point.....that show that Latinos were probably a bit confused by all this....and just decided not to go much past this point....they were white, period.

I start to ponder on this.....2040 rolls around and half the Latino population in America declares themselves as pure white, act "white", and blend into a white culture.  Could it happen?  Maybe.  The curious thing is that Census geeks are doing this kind of stuff without even thinking about the implications.  Maybe we classify Muslims as Christians in some weird way, and eventually get them to blend in....well....it was an idea.

The $5 Repair Job

When Bank of America came out this week, and hinted of a $5 a month fee for folks who use Debit Cards for purchases....I was sitting there and wondering how all of this came to pass.  It's an interesting episode.

There was Representative Barney Frank, and Senator Chris Dodd....both vowing months ago....to stick it to the banks.  They were going to "fix" our problems with their fresh solutions.  So came the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  The two built the act into a micromanagment deal.  It limited fees that banks could collect from companies (like Sears, McDonalds, Texaco, etc).  When you went up and bought something....the seller was providing 44 cents to banks on average for the deal.  You swipe for $5 worth of burgers?  Your friendly Burger King clerk had built the Whopper meal package with the 44 cents included into it.  Sadly, it was their way of getting you in the door and making this real easy to use the plastic.

When the smoke settled....banks could only charge 21 cents.  Naturally, you'd have to ask a stupid question here if you were the banks.....how would you make up for your losses?

If you were Representative Frank or Senator Dodd....you'd grin and stare at the camera for a minute, and then let folks know you weren't that bright about business, Debit Cards, or banks.....in the first place.

So enters the $5 a month fee.  You will pay $60 a year....for the plain use of the Debit card.

Other banks are talking about this method of recovering their money.  My guess is that most will find this nifty way of making you keep a balance of $3k in your checking and pay $35 a year for the great privilege of having a Debit Card.

So I sat and pondered over this.  What's done....is done.  So what happens here?  Will folks go back to good old fashion American cash?  Will we go back to the habit that we all had fifteen years ago....carrying $400 on ourselves and use the cash instead of a ATM card?  Maybe.

If you add up 44 cents that was built into average purchases....a guy who doesn't make any purchases a month....was contributing to this big pot of money but maybe he was giving more than his fair share.  We can admit that in the end.

So finally, there is this curious weapon left at your disposal....cash cards.  You walk up to some chain....like Wal-Mart or Texaco.....and you get a cash card.  Plunk down the $500 and just carry the card around with you and charge for the burger, or the chicken wings, or the tank of gas.  Cost for the card?  Nothing except the $500 you put on it in the first place.  My guess is that Wal-Mart will develop a cash-card that they give you.....with a twenty-dollar credit when you put $500 on it....just to get you to walk into their store.

Maybe all Frank and Dodd did in the end....was just stir the pot.  They really didn't have anything to fix, and they didn't fix anything with their imaginary mess.  It's like car mechanics standing around an imaginary car and describing what they could fix....if it were really broken.  Maybe that's the purpose of our politicians....just fix things, broke or not.  Only in America.