The nation’s biggest challenge, credit card debt. Credit cards are destroying this nation and its people, mortgaging the future and undermining our economy. We need to crack down on the banks and limit the amount of interest they can charge.
By Ray Hanania
The Vietnam War ended and I had been transferred to an Air National Guard base in Peoria.
When I got home to Burbank, I borrowed my mom’s car to drive to Peoria. She gave me a plastic card and she explained I could use it to get gasoline from Shell.
Wow, how the world changed since I left to join the fight against the Commie-bastards!
The tank was filled and I jumped in without thinking, pretty much the same way we got into the Vietnam War, and later the Iraq War. I drove to Peoria. On the way back, I passed a Shell Station outside of Pontiac.
I didn’t fill up the tank, the owner did. And he checked the oil and cleaned the windshield, too, something only homeless people do these days. The gasoline cost $6 and I handed him the plastic card. A few minutes later, he returned and said it didn’t work.
I was in uniform, and that buzz cut was still fresh down the back of my neck. Turned out the owner served during World War II.
He told me I could mail the money when I got home. And I did, as soon as I got home. With a letter explaining how much I appreciated his courtesy, and his respect ,which came from trust.
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Little did I know that paying off credit card debt would soon become a life-long struggle, like trying to lose weight, and trust would become a thing of the past.
Credit card debt is our biggest challenge not only for individuals but for the entire country. Credit cards have taught us to mortgage the future, something as it turns out, government does all too well.
Credit cards let us buy what we can’t afford. Usually junk we don’t really need.
If I could tell one thing to young people, it’s to avoid using a credit card.
If I could tell one thing to congressmen – as if they would listen – I would say crack down on credit card interest rates. They are really out of line.
The other day I got this expensively designed letter and costly brochure from Discover that lavished praise and played to my ego. I have a great credit rating.
(Why do they get to know more about my credit history than I do?)
They begged, pleaded and cajoled me to sign-up for their card. They even offered me no interest for six months.
Buried deep in all of it was the interest rate they would charge: 25 percent. Gangsters don’t charge “25 percent.”
Credit card companies can charge outrageous interest, even though the average consumer barely earns 1/2 percent on their savings accounts: Actually our “savings account” is really money we give to the bank for “protection.” Gangsters call it “pizzo.” They charge us to use our money so they can make huge profits. It’s a twisted “protection racket.”
If all things were equal, the bank should ONLY be allowed to charge 5 percent above the Federal Prime Interest rate (3.5 percent today).
The banks are gangsters. Like Columbian drug killer Pablo Escobar and Mexican murderer El Chapo Guzman, the bankers give huge amounts of money to the politicians so the politicians can protect their interests, not the interests of the people.
We must change that. Why do we care more about helping foreign countries than helping our own people?
Why is the issue of immigration more important than credit card debt?
I miss that moment in time when two strangers could meet as “Americans” with a shared purpose and goal based on a sense of courtesy, respect and trust.
That’s true patriotism. Caring about fellow Americans and addressing the real problem we face in this country, mounting credit card debt. Mounting government debt. Mortgaging the future of our children to give political insiders huge pensions to secure their future while the rest of us struggle with barely enough to survive.
Give me a leader who truly cares about that!
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former City Hall reporter and political columnist. Email him at [email protected])
Hanania covered Chicago political beats including Chicago City Hall while at the Daily Southtown Newspapers (1976-1985) and later for the Chicago Sun-Times (1985-1992). He published The Villager Community Newspapers covering 12 Southwest suburban regions (1993-1997). Hanania also hosted live political news radio talkshows on WLS AM (1980 - 1991), and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM, WSBC AM in Chicago, and WNZK AM in Detroit.
The recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, Hanania was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hananiaalso received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania writes columns for the Southwest Community Newspaper Group including the Des Plaines Valley News, the Southwest News-Herald, the Regional News and the Reporter Newspapers.