Home > Personal Finance > Tea Time for the Occupation

Comments 0 Comments

Historically, America’s greatness as a country could be measured by the social mobility of its citizens. If you worked hard enough at a well-defined goal, you could get where you’re going, no matter who you were or from where you started. Case in point, the election of Barack Obama—but is it really true that anyone can make a billion, and/or become President these days?

Increasingly, the United States is a place of less social mobility. If as a society we persist in continuing to favor the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class, America as we know and love it will be no more.

Like a river that’s been dammed up, legislative obstruction thwarts natural mobility. The Obama administration has tried to ease the burdens that a toxic economy has created for middle-class consumers, and Congress has blocked him at every juncture. There was the American Jobs Act proposal, which would have, among other things, put many Americans to work almost immediately refurbishing critical and eroding infrastructure—blocked. And a few weeks before that, there was a thwarted attempt to put a director in place for the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which would act as a watchdog for banks and other financial organizations that have been costing middle class Americans a lot more money lately.

[Featured Product: Looking for credit cards for poor credit]

The President keeps putting forward proposals designed to do something—anything—to ameliorate the situation of America’s rapidly shrinking middle class, but partisan ideologues and obstructionists in Washington have dam(n)ed that river, restricting any mobility that may still be possible.

It doesn’t take a political scientist to tell you that Congress has been deliberately and very effectively gridlocked. Like many other observers, I do not believe that Obama’s proposals would have entirely solved the problem, but I do believe that they would’ve helped. I’d really like to believe that sooner or later some of these initiatives will be taken seriously and become law–but I’d also like to believe that peanut butter has no calories.

[Article: I’m a One Percenter Who’s Pre-Occupied with Wall Street]

Regardless of your political affiliation or ideology, we can all agree that something has to be done by someone at some point. We can endlessly debate about appropriate methods, the cost of any program designed to benefit the middle class or the average consumer, the wisdom of yet another regulatory bureau such as the CFPB, and the number of angels dancing on the head of this particular pin. However, the gridlocked Congress has now found a corollary in the real world. The Occupy Wall Street movement is steadily growing both here and abroad. It’s getting noisier, and the situation is becoming more fraught with danger, at least in the sense that clashes like the recent one in Oakland seem unavoidable.

Going back to the river, there’s another effective way to stop a natural flow—by tapping the river to funnel too much water to too many places. Sooner or later, the river dries up. In other words, the disorganization of the flow will eventually stop it. Not so many years ago the American talent for organization was one of the wonders of the world and the river flowed, bringing a high standard of living to America’s middle class, but most recently chaos seems to reign.

For example, Wall Street’s reaction to the Dodd Frank Act that among other things limited bank fees—passed when Congress was still doing something other than obstructing the President to assure he’d be a one-term threat to the one percent. I would characterize that reaction, whether warranted or not, as supremely disorganized and the results were disastrous. Within the space of a few weeks just prior to the date the fee-limiting sections of the law went into effect, many banks jacked up various fees, invented new ones, and announced them bluntly as by fiat. Although some of those fees could be justified by any sensible or dispassionate economic analysis, the chaotic way that the banks reacted universally angered consumers. They felt battered, exploited, and worst of all dissed—particularly in light of the fact that the mega-banks (deemed by Washington as too big to fail) had very recently been bailed out by taxpayer money. Bear in mind that although the crisis that precipitated that bailout could be ascribed to many things, one of which was certainly the disorganization of the securitization markets created by those same banks.

[Resource: Get your free Credit Report Card]

Tea Time for the Occupation (cont.) »

Image: bogieharmond, via Flickr.com

Pages: 1 2

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team