We Need Less Credit

Unfortunately, when you buy a meal or DVD or pants and end up paying and paying and paying no one except the bankers benefit.

I’m in a pissy mood tonight, so let me vent about another thorn in my side. Have you read the threats from the credit card industry? That’s what they are–threats. They don’t like the recently passed credit card legislation and are throwing a financial hissy fit.

From The New York Times: “Banks are expected to look at reviving annual fees, curtailing cash-back and other rewards programs and charging interest immediately on a purchase instead of allowing a grace period of weeks, according to bank officials and trade groups.

“It will be a different business,” said Edward L. Yingling, the chief executive of the American Bankers Association, which has been lobbying Congress for more lenient legislation on behalf of the nation’s biggest banks. “Those that manage their credit well will in some degree subsidize those that have credit problems.””

Yeah–take that consumers! They threaten to raise fees and cut accounts. Shhh… they are speaking like a monolith and forgetting there is (supposed to be) competition.

OK, here’s the deal. When folks pay a significant portion of their weekly income in interest and fees as opposed to using it for things they might actually need, we’re all getting screwed.

Some credit for durable goods purchases makes sense. Car loans and mortgages seem like reasonable uses. Unfortunately, when you buy a meal or DVD or pants and end up paying and paying and paying no one except the bankers benefit.

Though it will be a temporary inconvenience, we need less easy access to expensive credit, not more. We need more money spent going toward paying for things, not paying for fees and interest.

Addendum: Ron Lieber writing in Wednesday’s Times agrees with me competition will keep banks from raising fees

You Get What You Pay For–News Version

Helluva scoop if it were only true.

The big buzz in media (all media, not just TV) is user created content. It’s free–what’s not to like?

From CNN’s iReport–“Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. I have an insider who tells me that paramedics were called after Steve claimed to be suffering from severe chest pains and shortness of breath. My source has opted to remain anonymous, but he is quite reliable.”

Helluva scoop if it were only true. I’ll let a professional writer pick it up. This is from the Washington Post.

A false Internet report that Apple’s Steve Jobs had suffered a heart attack briefly slammed his company’s stock and raised fresh questions about the delicate relationship between traditional and new media.

The posting on iReport.com — a citizen journalist site owned by Time Warner’s CNN — is the most recent incident in which a faulty online report created brief, but wrenching, confusion among investors.

Apple quickly denied the report about its chief executive, but not before its stock dropped more than 2 percent, hitting a 17-month low of $94.65. It later recovered, climbing as much as 4 percent, before closing at $97.07, down 3 percent for the day.

CNN has tried to distance itself from the iReport site and its ‘reporters’. That’s going to be tough. It’s CNN’s cred that keeps the site active. In the last month CNN used nearly 1,300 iReport submissions which encourages even more participation.

Having journalism performed by actual journalists doesn’t guarantee accuracy, but it seems to be a step in the right direction when you supervise the reporter and he/she is answerable. Citizen journalists are not. Actually, that’s not totally true as the Steve Jobs heart attack citizen journalist might be answerable to the SEC.

Last September I wrote about my upset with Fox News ‘assigning’ a story to viewers. I didn’t say it was FNC but why hide it.

[T]oday I also watched an instance of what I don’t want to see with cellphone video. I’m not going to say which cable network it was, because I can’t find anything about it on their website, and it just might be ‘freelancing’ by a producer or anchor.

The anchor showed a still from an air show, mentioned where one was taking place today, and asked for viewer video. Uh… isn’t that why they have reporters and camera crews?

I understand getting video of spot news, unanticipated events, from viewers. This is totally different. This is an assignment. I’m not even sure a business can legally ask people to work for free, can they?

Regardless, it bothers me.

It still bothers me.

The Need For Speed

“The Cable Show,” an industry trade show for cable TV is underway in Las Vegas. To a certain extent, I’m surprised this show still exists. There aren’t that many CATV companies left.

Comcast Corp&#185. Chief Executive Brian Roberts dazzled a cable industry audience Tuesday, showing off for the first time in public new technology that enabled a data download speed of 150 megabits per second, or roughly 25 times faster than today’s standard cable modems.

This is huge news. Speed is capacity and no one ever has enough capacity – think closets in your home.

It is easy to think faster cable modems mean getting web pages and videos faster. And, of course that’s true.

More importantly, higher bandwidth changes what a data service can provide. I can’t imagine all the possible applications, but this certainly brings us closer to an environment where everything is on demand. For instance, higher bandwidth could allow all video (TV shows, newscasts, movies, sports, etc) to be individually fed.

Since Verizon is already rolling out its FIOS service, with high speed data directly to the home via fiber optic lines, this cable achievement assures some level of ongoing competition.

My fear continues to be cable and phone companies favoring their own (more profitable) products when it comes to transmission speed to the home. It’s the whole concept of network neutrality. But even that becomes less of a factor when there’s a broader pipe.

&#185 – I own a small position in Comcast as part of my retirement plan.

Does Free Cost Too Much?

A bunch of bankers got knocked for a loop when they heard from Jim Buckmaster, of Craigslist:

From HuffingtonPost.com:

Jim Buckmaster, the chief executive of Craigslist, caused lots of head-scratching Thursday as he tried to explain to a bunch of Wall Street types why his company is not interested in “monetizing” his ridiculously popular Web operation. Appearing at the UBS global media conference in New York, Mr. Buckmaster took questions from the bemused audience, which apparently could not get its collective mind around the notion that Craigslist exists to help Web users find jobs, cars, apartments and dates — and not so much to make money.

Wendy Davis of MediaPost describes the presentation as a “a culture clash of near-epic proportions.” She recounts how UBS analyst Ben Schachter wanted to know how Craigslist plans to maximize revenue. It doesn’t, Mr. Buckmaster replied (perhaps wondering how Mr. Schachter could possibly not already know this). “That definitely is not part of the equation,” he said, according to MediaPost. “It’s not part of the goal.”

Whoa! Money isn’t the essence of business? Wow.

I’m just as greedy as the next guy (maybe more so). This is such a foreign concept. Craigslist sounds like a throwback to the days of mainstream socialism.

I’ve never used the site. I have looked. I know lots of people do use it… actually millions use it.

It’s become a vacuum cleaner, sucking money from newspapers. Classified ads were a huge source of income.

I’m all for competitions, but what if removing this revenue makes the newspapers lose their financial viability?

From Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News:

The American newspaper is being assassinated by “a lone nut.”

And we’re going to tell you the name of that lone nut:

Craig Newmark of Craigslist (not pictured above) — a man whose altruistic vision of running a business to NOT maximize profits is now threatening the livelihood of thousands of working men and women across this country, your neighbors who work at and publish your local newspaper, jobs that were once supported by the classified ads that have migrated to the most free (or low-cost) Craigslist.

Will Craigslist inadvertently stop the presses? I don’t want the physical newspaper to disappear from my life. As strange as it seems, it’s totally possible.

I’m all for the Internet and progress through technology… but I’m also all for the newspaper. I have no idea where to stand on this.

JetBlue Emergency Update

When JetBlue’s Airbus A320 landed with its nose gear perpendicular to its motion, I wondered if anyone would try and connect this incident with JetBlue’s maintanence, performed in El Salvador and primarily by mechanics not certified by the FAA.

JetBlue doesn’t even fly out of the US, except to get its planes repaired or maintained.

Today the story hit the Washington Post. I’ve attached their story to the link below.

Continue reading “JetBlue Emergency Update”