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Credit card industry resorts to legal extortion

Credit customers find they don't rate | Aug. 16, story

Rates become extortionate

Didn't we the taxpayers recently bail out the banking industry? Now the banking industry has turned around and bailed out on us, the taxpayer.

In the last two weeks I've been hit by getting legally extorted by my credit card companies. First came the 10 percent rate hike on one card, which I complained loudly about but to no avail. Of course the increase was on the current total not on future purchases.

Then, this week I was informed that my limits were being drastically cut by two other cards. I've been a loyal customer, never abused my cards, never gone over owing more than 50 percent of the limit, never missed a payment, never been late on a payment and always sent in more than the minimum.

All of a sudden I'm a bad risk who needs his limit cut back. It's absurd! When I called to find out what happened, I was greeted with the attitude of arrogance and a condescending tone and basically told to take it or leave it. I even had one ask me what the charges on my card were for, as though it was any of their business.

If the banking industry can do this to a person like myself with excellent credit, I can only imagine what they are doing to the people who have fallen on tough times. It reminds me of when Florida had all those unregulated payday loan places where people ended up paying such high interest rates that people could never pay off the loans. This is what the banking industry is turning into— legalized extortion.

Jim Siragusa, Deltona

An economic hindrance

Let's see: Bankers get million-dollar bonuses, some credit card interest rates exceed 25 percent, the national unemployment rate is more than 9 percent, and the return on one-year bank CDs is 2 percent or less. Is this a way to get the economy moving?

For many people, the economic stimulus is still a myth. One reason is the high interest rates charged by credit card companies. Would any banker borrow money at 25 percent interest? I think not. Then why should the consumer?

To get the economy moving again, we need lower interest rates on credit cards.

Derek Paice, Palm Harbor

Bank credit

Home loans are not

where the big money is

Why is anyone surprised that banks are not making mortgage or refinancing loans? Home loans are going for around 5 percent. Credit cards are going for around 15 percent. The fine print on the latest round of credit card mailings from some banks tells you that if you are a day late on one payment they can jump your credit card rate to 30 percent! The credit card industry earned $19.9 billion from penalty fees in 2008.

When banks borrow money from you (savings accounts) at 1 to 2 percent interest then in turn charge you 15 to 30 percent for you to borrow it back (credit cards) there is no incentive for them to lend you money at 5 percent (home loans). Oh, and never mind your (taxpayer) TARP money going to the banks so that they can finance home loans.

Fred Jacobsen, Apollo Beach

Utilities told to reveal executive pay Aug. 19, story

What competition?

The Public Service Commission is demanding that Progress Energy and Florida Power & Light disclose how much they pay top executives.

I don't really understand how that converts to figuring out rate increases but nevertheless someone does.

What really irks me is that the energy companies, as usual, are arguing against disclosing any information on the grounds that disclosing this information, all closely guarded, would place them at a "competitive disadvantage." Really!

Since when is there competition between these quasi-monopolies? Are they saying I actually have a choice as to where I get my power?

Douglas Bauer, Clearwater

Utilities shirk responsibility to conserve Aug. 20, commentary

Nuclear can keep us cool

Utilities need to conserve, but they also need to build nuclear power plants if we are to successfully combat global warming worldwide. Nuclear power plants create problems, and I would not advocate them if not for the dangers of climate change. But for the present, nuclear power is the least costly alternative to fossil fuels which does not produce greenhouse gases.

Environmentalists should be embracing nuclear power rather than shunning it. They should end efforts to impose costly environmental "studies" which increase the cost of nuclear power plants. Some environmentalists have an irrational fear of nuclear power. They should abandon this fear for the sake of humanity. Otherwise they will simply be seen as using global warming to impose their preferred frugal lifestyles on the world.

The truth is that winning the war against climate change primarily depends upon the actions of China and India. These nations must forgo development, keeping masses in poverty, or the worldwide production of greenhouse emissions will rise, no matter what America does. These nations fully embrace nuclear power. They will not take our warnings on climate change seriously if we don't.

Arthur Volbert, St. Petersburg

Obama must step up, lead | Aug. 19, editorial

Presidential voice is needed

The point of your editorial is now becoming a mantra of many pundits. We read of the lobbyist influence, which President Barack Obama campaigned so vigorously against, calling for "change" and offering "hope." I feel we're now in Act V of this Shakespearean health care drama, and the audience is asking, "When is our hero going to come in, put his foot down, even against his own meandering congressional Democrats."

The freestyle debates leave the American people confused, scared and frustrated that even with the new Obama administration, nothing in D.C. seems to have changed at all. Obama doesn't seem to feel his feet are standing on sand that shifts with daily contradictions about our health care.

The genius of our great government is the "balance of power," and Obama has given the Congress ample room to squabble. Now, as the head of the executive branch of our government, he must frame a cohesive plan for health reform, directed to his own party members in Congress, and use all of the golden powers of persuasion that swung a newly hopeful nation to want him as president.

Your editorial is absolutely correct: It is time for President Obama to raise himself above the petty misinformation, and lead with a clarion call and a focused clarity that he gave us while campaigning, so everyone recognizes that our personal health care, and its need for reform, is a concern beyond the narrow and petty scope of special interests.

Randal Goldsborough, Port Richey

It's really insurance reform

The visceral attacks by hysterical people at these town hall meetings are justified. Health care is fundamental. If we were talking about health care reform that would be one thing. However, President Barack Obama is not talking about that.

Please don't be fooled. This is insurance reform, and badly need insurance reform. All you have to do is listen to or read the stories on the president's Web site and you know.

So stop calling it "health care" reform, which plays into the health insurance companies' hands. It's nothing of the kind. It's health insurance reform, and that explains the nefarious AstroTurf tactics of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and that insurance executive's lobby group. They are fighting for the life of insurance industries' profitable health care division — a life that truly deserves to be snuffed out.

Read what Wendell Potter, the former Cigna health insurance executive who is now senior fellow on health care with the Center for Media and Democracy, has to say.

J. Steele Olmsted, Tampa

Be informed

Lazy Americans deserve the high priced, lousy outcome health insurance that they get. Not all Americans are lazy, but there is a large group of lazy people who write letters to the editor or shout out and disrupt town hall meetings without taking the time to study the facts. If they just take a few moments to go online, there is a wealth of unbiased information and studies to become informed.

Once you become informed you can then understand who is lying and who is telling the truth, including some of our congressman who are supposed to be serving the people and know the facts, but continue to lie to protect their big campaign donors in the insurance and health care industry.

Here is a fact: the World Health Organization ranks us No. 37 in health care performance compared to other industrialized nations. Canada is 30th and France is No. 1. Go online and find out why and become an informed citizen.

M. Leslie Nichols, Safety Harbor

Credit card industry resorts to legal extortion 08/20/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 20, 2009 6:40pm]
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