A blog post we wrote Friday about Bank of America’s thrilling new $5 customer debit card fee inspired a slew of reader comments, including an argument that’s become popular among the Fox News crowd: Blame the government!
The Dodd-Frank law, you see, lowered fees that debit-card companies can charge retailers, and so, the argument goes, BofA (and other banks) were forced against their will to make up the difference the only way that was available to them: by squeezing customers. That argument is pure, unadulterated nonsense and here’s why: It assumes that banks, or any other large businesses, are somehow entitled to a certain profit margin and can gouge away at will to keep it, customers be damned. It never seems to occur to corporations — and many conservatives — that a company's shareholders should have to eat the loss, rather than already over-gouged customers. If BofA CEO Brian Moynihan thinks his shareholders would be angry about lower profits, just wait till he gets a load of the customer fury over the bank’s latest bit of gouging.
Conservatives’ subservience to big business is one of the things about them that I have never, and will never, understand. A huge corporation is not the same as “free-market capitalism,” and in fact the BofAs and Exxons of this world are the enemies of small businesses, judging by those corporations' ruthless squashing of local small-scale businesses nationwide. It's easy to blame the government for everything, but the banks dug their own graves in recent years, and now they expect the rest of us to dig them back out.
I say let 'em crumble — wouldn’t that be more in keeping with free-market principles, since the banks have pretty much royally pissed off the whole world? As we wrote last week, the banking Overlords, with their new debit card fees, are practically begging you to move your money somewhere else. For crying out loud, take ‘em up on it.