Saturday, January 9, 2010

Disobedience: Civil and Personal

A founding member of Menopausal Stoners down in Austin, Texas sent me this clip. I'm not sure what I think about Ann, Rockerchic4God, but the video she posted on youtube got results for her.

She got some press on Huffpo
Debtor's Revolt: Woman Refuses To Pay Off Bank Of America Credit Card (VIDEO)

And she got a response from some VP over at Bank of America, too. She's got a blog, too, but it looks like she has more fun with the youtube thing since she's got her own little channel. Menopausal Stoners isn't ready to endorse Debtors Revolt Now since I just found out about it twenty minutes ago and haven't done any research. Her blog includes a statement warning off teabaggers, but she uses exclamation points. I have an issue with exclamation points especially since Sarah Palin seems to favor them - but I'm not going to let something like punctuation stand in the way of effective civil disobedience. She apparently is more of the Ron Paul Libertarian school of thought - which can lead to Tea Parties. Frankly the 4God part of her name worries me, but she often drops it which suggests she knows plenty of us out here have a problem with anything those damn "Christians" are doing.

Even if Ann is just another crazy broad in the blogosphere, her efforts deserve a bit of support. We crazy blogging broads need to stick together, you know.

My credit was ruined years ago as a result of Buzz Kill's and my marital dysfunction, ergo there can be no credit card revolts over here at Menopausal Stoners. AmX, Discover and Master Card revoked my rights and privileges more than 10 years ago, and the only debt I carry is the mortgage and my student loan. I'll pay them both religiously since I may need a mortgage when we sell HQ. I'm over a barrel that way like many, many Americans.

I remain intrigued by Ann Minch, however, because many of us often remark that despite growing frustration with our government, all we do is watch and do nothing. Ann did something.

There are many ways to demand accountability, however, any assholes from whom to demand it. While Corporate and Congressional assholes require attention, each of us occasionally find ourselves in situations where we need to hold an individual personally accountable. Last night, Gigi and I were talking about disappointments in love, and she was of the opinion that sometimes you have to accept that you'll never understand why some people have done what they did and move on. I agree that you can't let other people's baggage interfere with achieving your personal goals.

But what if holding an asshole in your personal life accountable for his/her behavior facilitates achieving your personal goals? Maybe it's a long, convoluted project that doesn't make sense to other people, but that doesn't make the project any less valuable to the individuals involved.

If all Politics is Personal - so that we buy local produce because we refuse to support corporate farming interests and genetically modified foods any more than we have to, for example - the converse should be equally as true which means The Personal becomes The Political. If we permit the individuals in our lives to operate as if they are unaccountable, in the interest of "moving on," then can we as a society ever hope to evolve?

Holding assholes accountable takes stamina since it means beating your head against brick walls and dead horses - and often, despite your best efforts, you still get screwed in the end like poor Stuart Y. Silverstein who spent years suing Penguin Books for cutting and pasting material he wrote in a compilation of Dorothy Parker's poems into one of their publications (Dorothy Parker Copyright Trial).

Losing in the courts doesn't necessarily mean there's been no karmic equalization. Although I never met Stu Silverstein, I've been interested in his story since I first heard it. I'm sure his friends called him Obsessive and told him to Move On. Maybe he should have - what do I know? But I can relate to longing for justice and fighting to be heard and acknowledged as he held a big asshole accountable.

As it happens, my own parents had a legal run in with an individual bully as a result of a business partnership between The Asshole and my father. Part of this convoluted tale involves me, Buzz Kill, and the Rebbe Mohammed McCrory being paid a very small sum to sit on the board of Manhattan Life Insurance Company for about a year. My mother is convinced that fact alone needs to be brought to the attention of the attorney general of the state of New York since I was a pawn in a rotten CEO's ongoing efforts to make an obscene amount of money off his insurance company. Mr. David H (boss of an insurance conglomerate that includes Manhattan Life) made so much money he had to pay his ex-wife something like $45,000 per month in alimony and child support. She was a long suffering woman, and probably could have gotten more if she weren't so exhausted from taking care of their four children and putting up with his shit at the same time.

That was when Mr. H was a young, handsome Scientology enthusiast and borrowed money from my parents to open Harris Gallery in Houston, although somebody else owns it now. Like many budding Scientologists, he believed one day he would be able to levitate, but his own parents had him institutionalized for doing too much LSD while at college, and my folks cut him some slack at the time when it came to delusions and hallucinations. I may have some details wrong since I was only a kid at the time and nobody told me the whole story.
Eventually, Mr. H ripped off my dad for more than $250,000. Perhaps I need to say "allegedly" except my parents won their lawsuit against Sin United or which ever one of Mr. H's companies they had to sue. Sadly, the insurance company lawyer - Mr. Magillacutty or McGettigan or Michael Finnigan or something - looked my dad in the eye and said that he may have won, but he'd better settle now or they'd tie him up in appeals so long he'd never see a penny because the insurance companies own the courts in Texas. Honestly, he said out loud and with pride that Insurance Companies own the Courts in Texas. Under the advice of his own lawyer, who caved during the mediation, Dad settled, violating my mother's rights as a community property holder so thoroughly that she filed a complaint with the judge. Maybe something will come of it one day, but only if somebody pays the lawyers more money. My folks got some thousands, but the lawyers got the bulk of the cash.
When a guy rips off an old man with dentures who helped launch him into the business world just because it suits his vanity, imagine what he will do as an insurance company executive to people he doesn't know. Mr. H still operates with impunity, making friends in the GOP and money off of suckers like you and me.

Maybe the Courts and Congress will never hold corporate assholes accountable because of the way money goes around in our world. We as individuals must continue to seek justice if for no other reason than to equalize the karma. Maybe somebody from Andrew Cuomo's office will be surfing the internet one day during lunch hour and stumble across these sad allegations. My real name is in an official State of New York Insurance Department Report on Manhattan Life Insurance Company from 2001, so I can say what I want. Who cares if the statute of limitations has run out? Maybe that means I can't be prosecuted either.

This story has personal significance because of my family, and more general significance because it involves an insurance industry executive. My current personal dilemma revolves around a financial journalist who worked for that notorious blow-hard Jim Cramer at SmartMoney. I have a feeling that his own refusal to accept accountability in his personal life is also tied to more general societal issues. I just don't know what to do about it yet.
As for the Banks: Check out the Move Your Money Project to find a community bank. Ditch the "too big to fail" crowd.


Gail said...

Hi Trish-

I am in the SAME boat as her with Capital One AND I wrote tothem and said exactly the same thing that "unless they return my interest rate to what it was and/or come up with a reasonable pay off amount I wouldn't give them another penny. I,like her, never was late or over limit, andmy rate when from 7.99% to 29.99%, such an injustice. SO great post.

jadedj said...

God girl or not, you have to admit this lady has cajones. I'm no fan of any of these thieving bastards. Bring them to their greedy knees!

Great post Trish.

PENolan said...

Glad you think so, Jaded.
You too, Gail.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I encourage anyone who will listen to stop paying their credit cards. Once you stop paying them for a few months the banks are more than willing to re negotiate your interest rates and give you all sorts of deals. I did that after my heart attack but when I found out I was never going back to work, I just stop paying them all together.

Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

There is something in the cultural dna (capitalism? individualism? exceptionalism?) which inclines the overwhelming majority of Murkin males--especially, but not exclusively, of the pale-skinned persuasion--toward lives of wholesale Ass-wholery...

It is for that reason that years ago I founded the "American Society of Recovering Ass-wholes."

As with any other abusive condition, ass-wholery (the COMPLETE asshole) requires a community of fellow sufferers fromj which to draw the strength to resist its very real blandishments.

All men are always already at least to SOME degree afflicted with the problem, and they'll thank you (eventually) if you sign 'em up...

Membership comes with a nice plaque!

PENolan said...

Dr. Von Monkerstein, I hope lots of folks are listening. Being "bad citizens" could be our greatest power.

You're a helluva fella, Woody Konopeli, HMWb,TE

Utah Savage said...

Great piece. I never really had much more than a pot to piss in, but I did have a bunch of credit cards and then a bunch of very big medical bills. The credit card companies got very nasty with me over my slow and painful recovery from a major psychosis and hospitalization. I tried all kinds of ways to renegotiate payment. I cut up my cards and apttemped to pay off my cards as no income would allow, but they just kept raising interest rates and would not let me close my accounts as long I had a balance. I eventually filed for bankruptcy and was so happy to know the credit card companies got fucked for the tiny (comparitively) amount of money I owed them. Still I paid my innitial debt many times over as they'd kept raising interest rates. I hate the bastards. On twitter there is a campaign to get everyone to take their money out of "too big to fail" banks and financial institutions. I recommend credit unions.

I saw you briefly on twitter either very late last night or very early this morning. You left a comment, but I wasn't sure what you were referring to and would love to have those real time conversations with you. We were talking literature (and a few other things) last night. It was great fun. I know if you gave it a chance you too would love twitter. The only problem is it now engages me far more than my blog as anyone visiting my place can see. Mostly I write things I know my twitter followers will want to know, see, read about. But in the meantime, few if my blogger friends stop by anymore. With the possible exception of Gail. I so miss you guys. Wish I could say with confidence, "See you on the twitter."

PENolan said...

Utah, keeping up with you on twitter is hard to do, but I'll continue the effort.

Meanwhile, I found
on Huffpo. Added the video to the post, tweeted it and tried a little facebook activism.
Can't hurt.

Mr. Charleston said...

I'm with Rockerchic. 30% interest is beyond usury, in unconscionable and flat out immoral. Like everyone else in America who has a BOA card, they did the same thing to us. I would have stopped paying it a long time ago if my wife would let me.

Screw the bastards and screw the politicians that refuse to do anything about it. Vote the pricks out of office.

Vancouver Voyeur said...

I had something similar happen to me. I had very low interest rates on my credit cards. I used them to support my kids and myself the first year of law school when I couldn't work and Spin Doctor wasn't paying child support. I always kept the balances low, paid them early and over the minimum payment. About 6 months after I graduated from law school, the credit card companies raised my rates from 6% up to 29%, because by then, my student loans showed up on my credit report as in repayment, making it look like I was massively in debt, even though my payments on the student loans weren't that high. Them raising my interest rate so high made it impossible for me to make the minimum payments or pay them off. I consult a lawyer. They wouldn't budge, so she told me to F'em and declare bankruptcy. So I did. They got nothing. My partner has good credit and has been my source to get a new car and anything I needed. My bankruptcy is due to be erased from my credit report this year, but after living 10 years without credit cards, I have discovered, I really don't need them. I don't anticipate getting any ever again.

GregoryJ said...

I linked to this on my blog on Monday, Jan ll.
Hope that's okay. I think it needs exposure.


PENolan said...

I can see having one card for emergencies, but since nobody will grant me that "privilege," I do just fine without credit cards.

Gregory, Thanks.
Use the MoveYourMoney one too.
One of the best things about blogging is passing information among our friends and neighbors in blogland. As it happens, I noticed your blog in my stats and just bookmarked a link you provided for the one true free credit report.

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