Sunday, August 28, 2011

The empty promise of "freedom" and "simplicity"

I here offer my deepest apologies and sincerest regrets to my fellow citizens for failing to properly shoulder the burden of maintaining our faltering economy. I offer no excuses other than my unwillingness to manage the paperwork.

This is about those endless offers from credit card companies that fill our mailboxes and keep the post office from going completely broke. In the 12 weeks since June 5, I received 24  of those suckers from outfits that promised in large print to guarantee freedom and simplicity in my life, plus another six mailings containing "convenience checks" for my existing credit card accounts.

I just spent 90 minutes tearing all of them into tiny pieces that fill a brown paper grocery sack.

However, with Michele and her fellow travelers running their mouths so much lately about all of our disappearing freedoms, I feel guilty, and really should do something with these offers besides shred them. In addition to gaining copious amounts of new credit that adds consumption capacity to the economy, I could transfer outstanding balances on existing cards for a low-percentage fee, pay no interest on transferred balances for generous lengths of time, and thereafter pay APRs ranging from 3.99% to 18.99% (the average for my 12 weeks of offers was 11.99%).

From four of the offers, I could obtain 30,000 free bonus miles each, 120,000 in total, to use on American Airlines, a company that serves Minnesota minimally and with which I have done only minor amounts of business over the years. Still, that's four times around the world.

I am pretty adept with a spreadsheet, and with a bit of concentration I could probably play this shell game for years without paying out any real money on either my principal or interest.

Hell, if I was half as smart as my ego would have it, I would take these offers, cash them out to the max, quit working, and use the remaining years on my passport and my life to remain free and simple outside the country. Makes sense. If Rick Perry and Texas can secede from the Union, why can't individuals separate themselves from the hard work of living and embrace the slick and easy promises of freedom and simplicity?

These proferred possibilities spell "freedom" with a capital "F" and "simplicity" with a capital "S." For sure!

Then, as these importunings are so rich for folks like me, one can only imagine how important they must be for the credit card companies themselves and for the compensation of their shareholders and corporate leaders.

By now, all of us should know – from the mouths of Boehner, Cantor, Mitchell, and our GOP brethren in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and elsewhere – what that kind of financial good fortune means to our economy, for these people, the shareholders and corporate leaders, are our job creators. They are the very lifeblood and hope for our nation's financial salvation. They count on people like me, and you, to choose freedom.

Thus, I take seriously my shirking of responsibility for insuring freedom and simplicity in this particular realm for myself and my fellows. Simply put, however, I choose to believe that life is too short for the paperwork, and even shorter for the rhetoric of the empty promises.