Credit Card Interest

With Black Friday just a few days away, this seemed particularly current.  Many people with credit cards probably have received a letter in recent weeks or months about their interest rates going up.  I have received two such letters, both from Citibank, concerning my credit cards from Zales and a furniture store.

For those who don’t know what is going on, Congress passed a law in the spring that places much greater restrictions on what credit card companies can do to consumers and how they can raise interest rates.  This law goes into effect in February and credit card companies and raising rates ahead of the law.  The House of Representatives caught on to this and passed a bill to move up the effective date to December 1st.  Unfortunately the Senate has been unable to pass a similar bill and consumers will continue to find their rates increased from now until February.

The banking industry is responding by saying that the increase in interest rates is due to an increased risk in lending.  This sounds like a good excuse until it’s compared to reality.  Both accounts that I had were never late and both have been active this year.  I have excellent credit.  And still my rate for both accounts was raised to 27.99%.  This is beyond ridiculous and is even more insulting when I think that Citibank was one of the biggest banks bailed out by your taxes and mine.

On top of cancelling my credit card with Zales, I sent them a letter telling them that I would no longer be purchasing from their store because of how I was treated by their financier, Citibank.  Big banks aren’t going to care if they lose a few customers like you or I over increased interest rates.  But if the companies that they provide credit for realize they are losing business because of absurd interest rates and do their banking elsewhere, maybe these banks will finally get the idea.

If you find your interest rate increased on your credit card between now and February, I encourage you to not only cancel the credit card, but contact the company who issued it and let them know that you intend to take your business elsewhere because of they way you were treated by their financier.

Two Big Problems

There have been two major issues that keep appearing on the news week after week.  The first issue is the health care debate.  This may be resolved soon, or sometime next year, with the longer it takes to get passed, the less likely it is to pass.

The second issue that keeps getting the public riled up is the issue of executive pay at large companies.  Some places have been reined in, specifically ones that have received government bailout money.  There is also talk about giving shareholders the right to vote on executive pay.  However most stocks are not held by individuals but by companies who couldn’t care less about how much executives make.

Obviously many people are against changes to the health care system and my point is not to address individual problems with the health care proposals.  One major sticking point is going to come down to the price of the proposal.  This is what I want to address in an attempt to fix two of the major problems that are in the news today.

Rather than putting a cap on the pay for executives, simply add a tax to the bonus compensation.  If Company X wants to give $50 million in bonuses to their executives, let them do it, but require them to contribute an additional $50 million towards the price of whatever health care plan is passed.

The public won’t care nearly as much about executive pay if they know that much of that money is going to the government to fund a program that they are interested in and ultimately will keep them from paying higher taxes to pay for this program.  If a company gives out $50 million in bonuses, 40% of this will be paid back to the government in individual taxes, which adds up to $20 million.  Add to the $50 million that the company will pay in taxes and that is $70 million that goes to the government and only $30 million that goes to executives.

Bible Study

Last week was a rather intense week for me.  I spent more time studying the Bible than probably any time since I’ve been in school (and actually more than most of the time I was in school.)  I ended up writing three in depth articles for the theology section of spreadinglight and wrote over 5,500 words.

When the weekend rolled around, I had the privilege of hosting my former pastor and mentor of 17 years at the church.  He has retired and is teaching spring semesters at Jamaica Bible College.  He came to my church to do a Bible study on the life of Peter and his teachings. 

As a pastor, I don’t get to be taught very often any longer.  Basically everything I learn now comes in preparation for teaching or preaching.  So I have to say what a delight it was to simply learn for the sake of learning once again.  It was a true blessing and I have felt a renewed energy all week even though a 10 hour Bible study over the weekend took a lot out of me mentally.

Some churches may have better success but I’ve discovered that maybe 20% of Christians are involved in some sort of Bible study program outside of regular weekly church services.  There are many reasons why people are not and I’m certainly not going to point the finger at anyone and claim that they are bad Christians if they are not involved in one.  But I would encourage as many people as possible to find a good Bible study to become involved in.  I believe that it is absolutely worth the time and energy that a person will invest in one.