Debit Card Fees: Blame Congress

Some Americans are outraged that Bank of America intends to charge its customers a $5 fee for using their debit card. And simply switching banks might not help: others are expected to follow. While frustration over yet another bank fee is understandable, this one should surprise no one. Congress acted to cap the debit fees that banks could charge retailers last year, and banks are reacting by directly charging their customers a portion of these lost fees to make up the difference. The move could mean the end of the debit card.

On the one hand, “unintended consequences.” On the other, completely predictable. Via Did Congress Kill the Debit Card? – Daniel Indiviglio – Business – The Atlantic.

AP Fact Check: Are the rich taxed less than secretaries? No.

President Barack Obama makes it sound as if there are millionaires all over America paying taxes at lower rates than their secretaries.

"Middle-class families shouldn’t pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires," Obama said Monday. "That’s pretty straightforward. It’s hard to argue against that."

The data tell a different story. On average, the wealthiest people in America pay a lot more taxes than the middle class or the poor, according to private and government data. They pay at a higher rate, and as a group, they contribute a much larger share of the overall taxes collected by the federal government.

via The Associated Press: FACT CHECK: Are rich taxed less than secretaries?.

Women Write Differently Than Men (Duh)

According to Jill Abramson, the new executive editor of the New York Times, women journalists are the same as male journalists.

“The idea that women journalists bring a different taste in stories or sensibility isn’t true,” Abramson told Times‘ public editor Arthur S. Brisbane.

But, of course, she’s wrong.

For many years I wrote about the adult movie industry. I never would have been able to do what I did as a journalist covering so-called Porn Valley if I were a man.

via Women Write Differently Than Men (Duh) – Forbes.

Left vs Right on Evolution and Economics

On the one hand: Many right/conservative types believe in a universe that was designed from the top down, but are OK with thinking of the economy as something that self-organizes from the bottom up without central control.

One the other: Many left/liberal/progressive types view with contempt anyone who believes in Creation or Intelligent Design, and see evolutionary theory as as good explanation for life on Earth. But, simultaneously, they believe that the economy can be directed and controlled by a relatively small group of smart people.

Me, I have become a believer in the primacy of evolutionary forces in both life and economics.

The Stupid Things Sarah Palin Says

Clearly, the woman is an idiot. I mean, who could possibly believe this stuff?

She made three interlocking points. First, that the United States is now governed by a “permanent political class,” drawn from both parties, that is increasingly cut off from the concerns of regular people. Second, that these Republicans and Democrats have allied with big business to mutual advantage to create what she called “corporate crony capitalism.” Third, that the real political divide in the United States may no longer be between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private).

In supporting her first point, about the permanent political class, she attacked both parties’ tendency to talk of spending cuts while spending more and more; to stoke public anxiety about a credit downgrade, but take a vacation anyway; to arrive in Washington of modest means and then somehow ride the gravy train to fabulous wealth. She observed that 7 of the 10 wealthiest counties in the United States happen to be suburbs of the nation’s capital.

Her second point, about money in politics, helped to explain the first. The permanent class stays in power because it positions itself between two deep troughs: the money spent by the government and the money spent by big companies to secure decisions from government that help them make more money.

“Do you want to know why nothing ever really gets done?” she said, referring to politicians. “It’s because there’s nothing in it for them. They’ve got a lot of mouths to feed — a lot of corporate lobbyists and a lot of special interests that are counting on them to keep the good times and the money rolling along.”

Because her party has agitated for the wholesale deregulation of money in politics and the unshackling of lobbyists, these will be heard in some quarters as sacrilegious words.

Ms. Palin’s third point was more striking still: in contrast to the sweeping paeans to capitalism and the free market delivered by the Republican presidential candidates whose ranks she has yet to join, she sought to make a distinction between good capitalists and bad ones. The good ones, in her telling, are those small businesses that take risks and sink and swim in the churning market; the bad ones are well-connected megacorporations that live off bailouts, dodge taxes and profit terrifically while creating no jobs.

Strangely, she was saying things that liberals might like, if not for Ms. Palin’s having said them.

“This is not the capitalism of free men and free markets, of innovation and hard work and ethics, of sacrifice and of risk,” she said of the crony variety. She added: “It’s the collusion of big government and big business and big finance to the detriment of all the rest — to the little guys. It’s a slap in the face to our small business owners — the true entrepreneurs, the job creators accounting for 70 percent of the jobs in America.”

(Yes, that was sarcasm.) Via Some of Sarah Palin’s Ideas Cross the Political Divide – NYTimes.com.