If you’re in the mood to get good and hacked off at Congress for failing to live up to its responsibility to ensure that citizens’ views are aired to in its chambers, read Elizabeth Warren’s piece on the House’s credit-card hearings.
The first panel was four regular people who wanted to give first-hand information about their experiences with their credit cards. While the reps from Cap One, Chase and Bank of America went on for hours about their customer friendly policies and how much value they provided free to consumers, the people who had different stories were never allowed to utter a single word.
The people who had been invited to testify had flown in from around the country with their credit card bills in hand, only to learn that they couldn’t talk unless they would sign a waiver that would permit the credit card companies to make public anything they wanted to tell about their financial records, their credit histories, their purchases, and so on. The Republicans and Democrats had worked out a deal "to be fair to the credit card lenders." These people couldn’t say anything unless they were willing to let the credit card companies strip them naked in public.
"Fair is fair," said Congressman Spencer Bachus, ranking member on the House Committee on Financial Services. Somehow I’m having trouble seeing exactly what is fair about that equivalency.
Read the article to see Elizabeth’s excellent response to this ham-handed bit of blackmail.
(Warning: The story doesn’t have a happy ending. At least not yet.)
One thing that is clear is that it’s extremely foolish to put yourself in a situation in which a financial institution has any more power over you than is absolutely necessary.