FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #78: “It’s a dishonest politician that sneaks sneaky legislation into a bill.” -Old Pithy
The Devil is in the Details and the Sneakiness is in the Fine Print
You know what they say. Buyer beware. Because they’re out to get you with their sneaky advertising. Which you need to read closely. Because the devil is in the details. And the sneakiness is in the fine print. That print that no one reads. Like credit cards that send you those checks.
They may offer 0% interest for six months when you write yourself a check for $5,000. Wow. Sounds great. But if you don’t pay that off in that 6 month period look out. Through the miracle of compound interest, that $5,000 debt will grow. And that growing starts the moment you cash that check. Because in the fine print the credit card company notes that after the 6-month period they will begin charging interest at 27.24% APR. Starting on day one of the 6-month period.
People may wonder how credit cards can make any money if they don’t charge interest. Well that’s the secret of the zero-interest offers. They don’t expect you to pay it off within in that 6-month period. And the second that 6-month period ends they book $720.84 of interest income on that $5,000 they loaned you. That’s a short-term loan that yields 14.42%. And there ain’t any 6-month investment out there that can match this yield. But it doesn’t end there. The yields on the credit card loan will continue to grow. If you owe that $5,000 for 1 year, that yield rises to 30.91%. And instead of owing $5,000 you now owe $6,545.59.
A zero-interest offer seems to be good to be true. That’s because they are too good to be true. Which you’ll see when you read the fine print. If you read the fine print.
You have to be Sneaky to get People to Agree to Things that will Hurt Them in the Long Run
Now it’s obvious why they do this. Be sneaky. Because they can make a lot of money by doing this. And the more people that take them up on these zero-interest offers the more money they can make. So they put the things that would sour most people on using these checks in the fine print. In hopes few will read it. And few do.
You see, you have to be sneaky to get people to agree to things that will hurt them in the long run. You just can’t be honest. They can’t tell you that this loan will cost you nothing at 11:59 PM on the last day of the 6-month period. And that it will cost you $720.84 one minute later. Worse, your minimum monthly payment will jump about $125 as they calculate this loan into your payment. And compound interest will make that credit card balance swell like a beached whale to the point that you’ll never be able to pay it off.
You’ll lose sleep as your minimum monthly payments grow. You’ll struggle to get that balance to go down. Of course it never will. And the more those minimum payments grow the less money you have for groceries and gas. So then you’ll start paying less than the minimum due so you can put food on the table and drive to work. Then the collection calls start. It’ll get to the point that your stomach turns every time you hear the phone ring.
So you can see why they put this kind of stuff into the fine print. I mean, if they advertise that they are going to ruin your life, are you going to use one of those checks? Probably not.
The Founding Fathers hated Democracy with a Passion
So you really have to be sneaky and devious to get people to voluntarily destroy their lives. And speaking of politics, politicians are the worst. For a credit card company may try to get as much money from you as possible. But that’s just business. And they don’t swear oaths to protect you.
Thomas Jefferson hated bankers and merchants. Partly because he was forever in debt. But mostly because they can buy themselves favors. And the seller of favors is, of course, government. Jefferson was a well read man. He knew history. And he saw how combining money and government led to bad things. Corruption. Patronage. Privilege. War. Money gave government power to do its worse. And allowed a ruling minority to oppress the people for personal gain. Now even though America was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, Jefferson knew that money could, and would, change that. This is one of the reasons why the nation’s capital was located on a swamp a long, long way from the nation’s financial center. New York.
This is also a reason why the nation is a republic. And not a democracy. We have representative government. Not direct participation. For the Founding Fathers hated democracy with a passion. Why? Because all democracies fail. Once the people learn they can vote themselves whatever they want. That’s why the Founding Fathers put enlightened/educated representatives between the treasury and the people. Who will be rational and logical. And not give in to base desires.
But the Founding Fathers were a special breed. Who came along at just the right time and place. And they created something perfect as far as governments go. But as they passed from memory, the ways of the Old World became hard to resist.
You have to let Others Steal from the Treasury if You want to Steal from the Treasury
As the nation grew so did its tax base. More people meant more tax revenue. First through import tariffs. Then the income tax. And other various taxes. A little bit of tax from a huge population meant a lot of money for politicians to play with. And play they did. With the power to control these vast sums of money, they played God. Just as Jefferson warned. Money and government created a ruling minority. Or a Ruling Class. Much like the Founding Fathers fought so long and hard to end in the New World.
Of course, people won’t willingly support a Ruling Class that oppresses them. So they have to be sneaky. And hide much of what they do from the general public. By burying it deep in pages of legislation. Pork barrel spending we call it. To get a part of the population to support you by promising them free stuff. Then you honor that pledge by attaching a rider to a bill to house and feed orphans, for example. When the final bill gets passed into law not only do we house and feed orphans (which everyone supports), but we also shower select constituencies with federal dollars for their help in getting out the vote during the last election (which only those select constituencies support).
Of course you know how this plays out. If you oppose the excess spending in this bill you hate orphans. And who wants to be labeled an orphan hater? Probably not many. But chances are few will oppose it. Because to get pork you have to give pork. You have to let others steal from the treasury if you want to steal from the treasury. And this is why representatives and senators vote to pass thousand page bills without reading them. They know they’re full of shameless pork barrel spending. But as long as they include their pork they don’t care.
Short-Term Gratification with Long-Term Consequences
Politicians are a lot like those credit card companies. Promising great short-term gratification. With long-term consequences that will be a bitch. They both want our money. The credit card companies want us to go on a spending orgy so they can book fat profits on the interest they charge us. Politicians just want to go on a spending orgy with our money.
So who’s worse? The politicians, of course. They’re supposed to be looking out for us. Besides, when the credit card companies are screwing us, at least we get to enjoy the ride before the crash. Taxpayers don’t. Because their money typically goes to people who don’t pay income taxes. So they don’t get to enjoy the ride. They just suffer the crash.
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