Because we need one more...
I won't get into the specifics of what I dealt with today, because it's banal, annoying, and, frankly, private. But it got me thinking.
When I was a kid in Cub Scouts, we had a discussion about "personal finance" listing various things one could do with $100, weighing the benefits of each as compared, let's say, to putting it in a shoebox under the mattress. The "lesson" we were "supposed" to learn from this was the benefit of putting our money in banks and growing our savings.
Anyway. It got me thinking; why do the banks get to operate by different rules? I don't mean the set we're all discussing nationally now (bailout, executive bonuses for failure, bailout, fraud, and bailout), I'm talking about their fundamental operations, the way they make money. Off of us.
Whenever I complain to my banker about unfair fees or policies, or the bank deliberately doing something with my account that's not in my best interest (or wishes), her response is, "Well, they're in this to make money." As opposed to helping me, being nice, showing human decency, etc. My response: "So?"
We're all trying to make money; if you're truly not concerned how, might as well go run drugs or become a mugger ("Washington Mutual: Where the victims come TO the muggers!"). More than that, most businesses are required to provide me with some good or service in exchange for my money.
What is it, exactly, the bank provides me to justify these hefty fees, penalties, and other petty thefts? Fundamentally they're just providing another mattress under which I can put my shoebox. And for this they charge me.
Here's my idea: as we're exploring new rules and regulations for the banks, as we're rebuilding the system from the ground up, build it such that the bank only makes money when I make money. If I deposit $1,000 in a CD and it grows to $1,500, they're entitled to a cut. If they help me pay off my credit cards, consolidate my debt, and generally make month-to-month expenses easier to deal with, they get paid. But they are not entitled to a portion of my money just for holding it; if that's the case it's time to get a new shoe box.