Beyond Trust

by Jayne D. Frank

As everyone has experienced, because of our deep-rooted religious upbringing, Americans are a very trusting and forgiving nation.  We forgive our families,  friends, bosses, colleagues, and our neighbors for perceived or real slights and broken promises; then we move on.  The same extends to our elected state and federal leaders and most of all to our President.  Given the very close victory and community-organizing effort that pushed a totally unqualified and inexperienced person into the highest office in the land in 2008, ALL Americans gave him the benefit of the doubt and the chance to prove many of us wrong.

The President now prepares to go before us to offer the State of the Union address after the worst attempt at management that I have ever seen in my lifetime.  None of us would have put up with all of his arrogance and incompetence in private business and he at best would have been on “probation” at his place of employment. He has spent a year blaming everything on President Bush much like our young children did when they had a brother or sister to take “the blame.”   President Obama has presided over an unimaginable debacle called our Government and a few things come to mind that I find infuriating:

  • The security of American citizens is terribly far down on his list of priorities.  Because of his lack of a  sense of urgency towards national security, an increase in attempted terrorism has occured. His delayed reactions to these events further reinforced the perception that terrorist organizations are winning the battle. He doesn’t demand accountability from those that screwed up and  is treating those terrorists as equals by bringing them to trial in our American justice system.
  • He toured the world after first getting elected to apologize for the greatness of America and indicated that he would be a more progressive advocate for being part of the one world order
  • He has done more harm to our free enterprise system by handing out billions to banks, special interest groups, and private companies.  He has promised special favors, exemptions and has hired radical progressives in his Administration.  And he has rewarded those people who were instrumental in getting him elected to office; e.g., the unions, the big environmental progressives, and his associates in the Chicago democratic machine.
  • He continues to tell Americans that he is for the middle class while his actions have resulted in just the opposite.  He has suppressed job creation in the private sector while ballooning the growth of government and consequently increased the tax burden on the middle class. His misguided belief that our economic plight will be solved through “green” technology is fundamentally flawed.
  • Obama personally has tried to completely subvert the will of the American people in trying to ram down our throats one of the most onerous and costly Government-controlled programs ever – HIS health care bill.

Although currently stalled as a result of the recent election of the 41st “no” vote for this health care bill, rest assured that he will push for enactment of some vestige or form of health care to establish his legacy.  President Obama still doesn’t get it and sits in his office with his closest advisors who are comparing the failure of the Clinton health care bill in 1994 with this current  health care failure, and all he can say is “But they didn’t have Me…”  How narcissistic!

So once again, the President will make another teleprompter speech in the State of the Union on January 27, and he will ask us to “trust” him again because his Administration has created or saved 2 million jobs and brought us back from the brink of economic disaster.  He will say that we are aggressively revamping a national security system that has been obsolete and non-cohesive for years.  However, that same system kept this Country free of attacks for the past 8 years.  Where is the flaw?  In the system or through its administration? Why were none of his top security officials consulted regarding the decision to prosecute terrorists in our Federal court system?  He will talk about the many new jobs he will produce if only we can give him more money; Government does NOT produce jobs – the private sector does!  President Obama will address how the middle class is his priority and he will do everything to make sure they not taxed and that the “less fortunate” among us are “given” everything they need to be prosperous.  The question remains how he will pay for these initiatives. He will come up with new plans to try to get his  massive health care bill through Congress, and he will undoubtedly announce new programs to stimulate our economy and create jobs by implementing freezes on spending for three years.  Does this include giving taxpayers back the $500 billion of stimulus money that is still unspent?

But here’s the bottom line, Mr. President.  We don’t trust you any longer! We are at a $14 trillion debt ceiling, we have about 17% of our country unemployed (if you count the true numbers). America has lost almost all of our manufacturing base in this country while countries like China, India and Mexico continue to grow and prosper. The little money that we do have doesn’t buy much anymore, and most of us can barely take care of our families and our children’s education.  Many Americans have lost their “dream” of owning and keeping a home because of the increasing government intrusion in all aspects of ownership and financing.  And most of, Americans are not investing and spending because they see the onslaught of taxes on their income coming down the pike from all this past year’s government spending.

But there is hope for us, Mr. President, because Congress WILL “GET IT” this November and the 112th Congress will hopefully put the brakes on your agenda.  You indicated that you would rather be a “good President for one term than a mediocre President for 2 terms. ” If you continue to ignore the will of “We the People”, your legacy will be that of a mediocre one-term President.

Ideology, Arrogance and Legacy

by Richard H. Frank

President Obama and his administration will celebrate their first anniversary in office on January 20, 2010.  The President’s stated agenda “to fundamentally change America,” is being received by he electorate as not being the change they voted for in 2008.  Aided by a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress, he has ramrodded a $700 billion stimulus spending bill into law by telling citizens this action would keep unemployment below 8.5%.  The administration’s philosophy of “too big to fail” has produced sudo-nationalization of America’s banking system,  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and a 60% ownership in GM (Government Motors).  All of these actions are financed through taxpayer dollars with no specific authority that can be found in our Constitution.  Simply stated, the current ideology seems to be, “Big Government is the solution to all of our problems.”

As time passes support for the Obama agenda is rapidly dwindling.  Today, over 60% of Americans oppose government-controlled health care legislation.  And yet Obama, Pelosi and Reid arrogantly stand before the country and proclaim the wonders of this bill and how America is demanding a change in the status quo.  They look us in the eye and declare that the bill is paid for and will not add a single dime to our nation’s deficit. I guess they think Americans are stupid!

Universal health care was a major plank in Obama’s campaign for President.  It was viewed by him as the one achievement upon which his “legacy” would be built.  He and the Democratic congress are now poised to pass anything no matter how bad it is in order to provide the President his legacy.

There is something fundamentally wrong in Washington when our leaders are more concerned about their legacy than in serving those that elected them to office.

Unless Obama and Congress see the folly of their actions and change course, I predict the next three years will produce a stagnant economy, inflation, rising interest rates and negative growth in our GNP.  The Obama legacy and that of the 111th Congress will go down in history as a failure! So much for legacy.

Americans may suffer just so much abuse by this Government before they revolt at their polling places.  We have 3 years to hire a new Captain and Crew capable of turning this massive ship of state called America and returning us to prosperity and freedom as individuals.

The Great American Cyber Ripoff

 

Like many Americans past the age of 50 I possess a moderate understanding of the computer and its many convenient uses when conducting our everyday business. The ability to pay bills on line, electronic banking, purchases direct from manufacturers, automatic deposits and yes filing of Federal and State taxes are all wonderful and beyond our wildest imaginations when we were growing up. All of these services are marketed as reducing the overall cost of doing business and made available to immediately upon filling out simple application.  However, woe unto him that doesn’t pay strict attention to what may be occurring under the surface as a result of the presumed “automatic features of the programs” that administer the services you have selected. For instance, have you ever attempted to stop an automatic payment once it has been authorized? Reverse a duplicate automatic payment? Change bank accounts associated with an automatic payment? Each of these actions comes at the risk of incurring punitive fees that in many cases outweigh the benefit of making the change.

Typically, the response of the banks is that only the initiating entity may make a change or cancel the authorization. The debiting entity will assert that they cannot make any changes during the current “automatic” cycle and it can take up to six weeks before the change becomes effective. The bank on the other hand will place a stop on the payment for 6 months at a fee of about $30.00. In the interim if the charge continues to be processed by the issuing entity the bank will automatically assess charges to your account. In a recent situation I closed a business account and cancelled all automatic chargers and had them transferred to another bank prior to the closing. The billing entity continued to charge the closed account. The bank continues to assess overdraft fees to the closed account that for a$9.95 charge has reached over $300.00. Speaking to the bank is like hitting my head against the wall and they refuse to reverse the charges. WELL I ALSO REFUSE TO PAY!

Another fine feature the banks are experts at is waiting until just before a direct deposit is due to assess bank fees and other charges sufficient to place your account into an overdraft situation. In many cases they will hit you for numerous transaction overdraft charges the same day the deposit is made which is more than sufficient to cover all transactions occurring that day. We have documented recurring situations that demonstrate how the banks sapped hundreds of dollars out of our account using this “automatic accounting” gibberish to justify their actions. I know from having reviewed websites that complain about bank practices that this practice generates millions of dollars for the banks.

Banks also pride themselves on having made deposits immediately available to their customers that take advantage of their electronic services. We have a small business that deals with credit card purchases only and process all transactions through merchant machines. We make deposits in our own account as well as those of our clients. Banks and credit card companies charge fees ranging between 2.5 and 5% of each transaction which is reasonable if the funds are immediately available to the merchant, but the banks will hold the deposit for up to three days (using your money) before the deposit hits your account. That represents one huge amount of our money, considering all the large and small businesses that utilize these services, being used by the banking system. So much for truth in advertising.

 

I could go on for hours recounting the nightmare of trying to straighten out merchant problems that occur when banks merge but I’m not sure I will live that long. Needless to say we have spent countless months chasing deposits to our client’s accounts only to have the banks admit they didn’t know what happened to the money.

Our latest adventure with “Cyber Land” arrived today in the form of an early Easter Basket, a shutoff notice from our satellite provider for non payment of our bill which has been an “automatic electronic authorization” for at least the past 5 years. Moreover the amount of the bill was over $400.00 dollars. Normally the charge is between $90 and $100 dollars. Needless to say we spent in excess of one hour on our cell phone attempting to determine how charges appeared for premium services cancelled 8 month ago, a double charge for our basic service, and late charges accruing from non payment for services not received. After conducting a line by line review and adjustment to the account the customer Service agent indicated she had never seen anything so screwed up and had no idea how it could have happened. Thankfully, in the midst of this mess, a glimmer of good luck appeared. The satellite company apparently had cancelled the automatic debit to our account. I cannot imagine the resulting overdraft fees and intense argument with our bank that would have resulted from attempting to reverse the incorrect charges. 

So now I find myself somewhat paranoid and am checking electronic activity on my bank accounts on a daily basis. A new event has come to my attention. Two deposits made to our account one for seven cents and the second for eleven cents. Neither my wife nor I recognize the identification of the depositing entity. We immediately placed a call to our bank and confirm the deposits are a test for access to our account. After 45 minutes on the telephone and being transferred to four different individuals, we are given the identity of the depositing company with their telephone number and told we would have to contact them to stop access to our account. Keep in mind we never authorized access nor have we ever heard of this company. The contact number turns out to be a bank in Wisconsin and after another frustrating hour we find out the initiating entity is an on line bill paying company and told we must call them to stop access to the account. Again, we have never contacted this company much less given them our account information. The conversation with the bill pay company is ridiculous, as we are told we must contact our bank to cancel any activity on their part. Now I lose it! I inform the bill paying company idiot that if I see any further activity from them I will report them to the SEC and whatever authority I must to put them out of business for fraudulently accessing my bank account.  

My wife and I have decided that we will exit our business in the coming year, close all bank accounts save our personal account, cancel all automatic payments and revert to the old fashioned methods of doing business. Hopefully, this will add years to our lives and reduce the aggravation of having to deal with a bunch of mindless programmed robots, many of whom cannot speak English, currently administering customer service for the banks and other type financial and retail institutions.  Beware “The Great American Cyber Rip Off.

 Richard H. Frank

March, 2009