Thursday, June 19, 2008

Total Disconnect

I just read a quote from a prominent Senate leader and was absolutely stunned.

In response to a question from a reporter concerning the current mortgage rates, the chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Chris Dodd (D-Conn) answered: “I don’t know what the rates are today.” I can certainly understand why Senator Dodd would plead ignorance on the issue. Currently being accused of accepting an “insider” loan from Countrywide at more favorable rates than those available to the general public, would be cause to deny knowledge of mortgage rates. He, along with a minimum of at least six other politicians was apparently a recipient of the favorable loan rate on personal properties.

While the response might be understandable for the others, it certainly is inexcusable on the part of the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. What part of “banking” does he not understand? Knowledge of varying rates for different commodities is the life blood of banking. It is the fundamental unit of measure of each and every transaction in the industry. Without interest; banking would cease to exist. Anybody with a hollow tree could probably “store” money.

Banking is not about free coffee pots for opening an account and attractive leatherette check book covers; it is about the usury exercised on customer accounts. When little kids set up a lemonade stand and eke out a profit of $7.34, proud parents hustle them off to the bank to set up an interest bearing savings account to demonstrate the principle. Here they learn to deposit every $5.00 birthday check they get from Grandma and learn about the joys of compound interest. Their new found knowledge of gaining wealth without actual toil is standard currency in middle schools and below.

Apparently this venerable pol skipped third grade and failed to learn of the relationship of banking and interest. He did not, however, skip the back room primers on how to leverage political influence for favored status. These are probably far more valuable lessons on advancing wealth in the real world.

Johnny Carson had a standard set piece line which always elicited a groan from the audience. When presented with an obvious truth he said, “I didn’t know that!” It a good bit for a comedy stchick but a lousy response for the chairman of a powerful committee. This is a shame at so many levels.

I have in my life known many people who called Connecticut home, including a favorite uncle, and considered them more sophisticated than average. Apparently I was wrong. They seem to be able to elect as many sleaze balls to government service as Chicago machines, California loony tunes, New York “john” supporters and folks in Massachusetts who turn a blind eye to vehicular manslaughter.

It seems the first item on the list of the contents of the missing bag on a flight to Washington, D.C. is truth. Between election and arrival it is commonly misplaced. They don’t call them “cloak” rooms for no reason. These anterooms just off the Senate floor are too often named for their use as a verb and not a noun to describe what they store.

I encourage you, if you have the opportunity, to seriously question your representatives. Those who are worthwhile will give you thoughtful consideration. They may honestly disagree with you. Please, please, don’t waste your franchise on glibness, good looks and placebos. These men and women have an important job; only you can pick the right individual to perform the people’s work.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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