no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Stupid Banking Regulations

August 6th, 2010

I received a letter in the mail from one of my banks today, consisting of what is quite possibly the stupidest thing I have ever read:

Federal regulations limit the number of transactions allowed on savings accounts during a 12-month period, and we are required to monitor your account to ensure it does not exceed the mandated number of transactions.

According to the regulations, you can make unlimited deposits or withdrawals to your account in person, by mail or ATM, but by law, you are limited to not more than six pre-authorized, automatic, online or telephone transfers or withdrawals per month…

Your account has exceeded the legal transaction limit in a 12-month period for the first time. Once that limit is exceeded three times within the same 12-month period, we will have no choice but to close your account.

WTF? Of course like so many inane “regulations” that plague our daily lives, nobody is ever aware of this one until they happen to violate it.

bank_error_in_your_favorIs this supposed to be some sort of consumer protection law?  Because I can’t (for the life of me!) figure out how this regulation could possibly be in the best interest of anyone besides the banks — who of course charge a fee if you exceed six “pre-authorized, automatic, online or telephone transfers or withdrawals” in a month. Its ridiculousity is compounded by the fact that there is no limit on the number of permissible transfers — as long as you make those transfers in person, by mail, or by ATM (i.e., the three most inconvenient manners of making withdrawals or transfers).

Now, I’m not particularly concerned about losing my bank account (it probably won’t happen again) and I could give to sh!ts about a “savings account” which pays a paltry .25% interest. It’s just idiotic. That is all.

Can somebody please tell me why we need Health Reform?

February 4th, 2010

My friend Brad posted the following on his facebook today:

Bought health insurance today for $80/month. That’s $20 less than my cable/internet bill and $20 less than a cell phone plan with unlimited talk, text, and web. Can somebody please tell me why we need Health Reform when something so important is cheaper then two non-important items?

Brad and I are for the most part on the same page when it comes to politics. Worst-case, we’re at least reading the same chapter of the same book. So I’d be preaching to the proverbial choir if I were to explain to you in detail the many valid cases reform (and by “reform” I really mean “repeal”). Here’s a short list to get you started:

  1. National Health Care will raise taxes on the middle class. Nobody likes higher taxes. Therefore, nobody should be in favor of national health care. Truth.
  2. Saying that no one should die because they can’t afford health care is the logically brain-dead equivalent of saying “nobody should ever die”. A fundamental, objective fact is that resources are scarce and they need to be allocated in one manner or another. This is basic metaphysics, people.
  3. Speaking of rationing vs. allocation
  4. And let’s be honest; the “debate” about health care reform isn’t really a debate at all.

With all that out of the way… When Brad says “reform” in this context, he’s clearly addressing a broader population, many of whom are under the impression that the current market for health care and related industries is a wild-west free-for-all of a marketplace that needs reining in, oversight, regulation, and control by the government in order to achieve some nebulously vague form of equity. Straight-talk, he’s using “reform” the way Pelosi et al are using the word “reform”.

Straw-man comments came in, like: “Some people cannot afford 80 bucks a month!” OK. Is this a means-tested $80 that they can’t afford? Are those people paying for cable TV, beer, a vacation house in Petoskey, waterskis, etc.? Or are they legitimately needy. Let’s cut the crap and call a turd a turd, OK. I want you to always think about how many people “can’t afford” health care (or whatever) and then ask yourself whether they really can’t afford it, or whether they’re choosing not to purchase it in lieu of something else. This is important, it will come up later and it will be on the final exam.

Continuing accusations suggest that the only reason Brad got such favorable premiums is because he’s in very good health (because he does the P90X workout a lot – he’s actually a P90X rockstar!), or that he couldn’t have gotten that rate with a pre-existing condition, etc., culminating in the absolute and total endarkenment of “Too bad for them, I guess they don’t deserve insurance anyways. I guess they will just die.” (cf., point 2, above) Anyone who makes this sort of statement is clearly not interested in discussion (cf., point 4, above).

Let me re-iterate what is probably the single, most important rule of insurance: it’s not “insurance” if you’re buying it after you’re affected. You don’t buy home insurance after your house burns down (or after someone lights it on fire), and if you’re talking about “insurance” in the context of someone who hasn’t taken it upon themselves to get insurance before they get sick or roll off a motorcycle, then you’re talking about welfare. Plain and simple.

Insurance is bought in advance, to protect against the risk that you might eventually fall ill or seriously injure yourself. If you do not buy insurance in advance then you are asking for welfare or charity and you are rolling the dice with your own well-being.

There is simply no justification for making me (or anyone else, for that matter) pay for your gambles.

I’ve talked about solutions to this problem before, but honestly folks, if you refuse to recognize the problem, then I just can’t talk to you any more.

Blight

June 2nd, 2008

Let’s say you and several neighbors live near an eyesore. If you don’t like the maintenance of that property, you should do it yourself. This means that the several of you could pitch together to purchase the blighted property, and transform it into something useful like a park or open space for your common enjoyment. But he fears, as we’ve seen, that zoning laws prevent people from improving their lots (no pun intended) individually, or collectively. If the current owner held allodial title, or a claim to allodial title, instead of the quasi-feudal title we refer to as “fee simple”, this would not be a problem. But because of land patents, through which the government declares its violent intentions against all contest, you can’t acquire allodial title.

A friend of mine lives next door to what could properly be described as “blighted” property. It is a 60+ year old dwelling in serious disrepair: there are no appliances, the garage is falling over and is a likely haven for rats, the floors and walls show signs of damage throughout, it was once home to no less than 7 dogs and several cats, and bears the telltale smell of urine that is always present where people neglect to properly train, care for, or clean up after their pets. The previous tenant has been foreclosed on, and the house sits vacant, with a list price of perhaps half of what my friend paid for his adjacent house, about 7 years ago. Even at this price, it is probably overvalued.

My friend has considered trying to purchase this adjacent parcel and combine lots, rather than sell his own house and move elsewhere. Doing so would allow him to expand and remodel his own house, and provide a larger yard for his daughter, his dogs, and entertaining. Unfortunately, he’s afraid that our municipality may very well not let him combine lots, because in doing so the tax base decreases.

Contrast these scenarios with what governments routinely do: If you want to improve the neighborhood, it’s nearly impossible to do so. If the government wants to “improve the neighborhood” (or enrich its patrons), it simply shuts off the utilities and declares the properties blighted, and then “reclaims” them under the principle of eminent domain. If, as an individual, you sabotaged your neighbors plumbing and then tried to take his property, you’d be branded a criminal. When government does it, we call it “urban renewal”.

no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics