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February 17, 2010

Government Meddling Backfires Again

The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them away.

- Ronald Reagan

I've been reading Thomas Sowell's new book Intellectuals and Society. One of the recurring themes in the book is the tendency of well intentioned "experts" to substitute normative ethics (i.e., "How SHOULD people act?") for rational observation (i.e., "How DO people act in the real world?") when formulating public policy. The result, predictably enough, is generally the exact opposite of what they intended. Elise offers up an amusing - if you don't happen to be a female of childbearing age - example of this phenomenon in action.

The story takes place in Colorado and involves one Peggy Robertson and her individual health insurance policy. Ms. Robertson had already had one child by c-section. C-sections are expensive. They often involve prolonged hospital stays and if you've had one most doctors will recommend a Caesarian for subsequent deliveries.

Given these facts, it is hardly surprising to learn that most insurers consider a previous c-section to be a pre-existing condition. Generally a female applicant who has already had one c-section will be charged a higher premium or coverage of subsequent c-sections will be excluded for some time after issuance of a new policy. In economic terms this policy makes perfect sense: it correctly allocates both risk and cost to the party receiving benefits under the policy. She is then free to factor the cost into her family planning decisions.

The state of Colorado, however, decided it was "unfair" for insurers to take the anticipated cost of insuring such women into account when pricing their health insurance policies. I'll give you three guesses what happened after the state of Colorado stepped in to "help" women like Peggy:

... the real source of Ms. Robertson’s denial is not Golden Rule; Golden Rule would have been happy to write her an individual health insurance policy. The real source is the Colorado Division of Insurance which has got to be in the running for stupidest insurance regulator in the country. The CDI forbad Colorado insurance companies to exclude Caesarean sections from coverage: if an insurance company takes on a new customer, the insurance company must cover Caesarean sections beginning immediately. However, it obviously never even occurred to the CDI that this would mean insurance companies would simply start refusing to take on women who had had Caesarean sections. Not only did such an outcome never even cross the minds of the rule-makers at the CDI, it apparently also never occurred to them to actually ask insurance companies, “What would happen if we forbad you to exclude Caesarean sections from coverage for new policyholders?” I’m pretty sure that anyone who worked for an insurance company would have foreseen quite clearly that their company would simply stop writing policies for such women.

Was Peggy Robertson really better off with no insurance policy at all rather than coverage that pays for most conditions but puts the ability to space deliveries closely at a premium? I don't think so.

In Intellectuals and Society, Sowell relates another example of well intentioned meddling which results in consumers having fewer choices. It's one that might surprise you - payday loans:

...the high rates of interest charged on personal loans to the poor are enough to set off orgies of denunciation and demands for government intervention to put an end to "exploitative" and "unconscionable" interest rates. Here verbal virtuosity is often used by stating interest rates in annual percentage terms, when in fact loans made in low income neighborhoods are often made for a matter of weeks or even days to meet some exigency of the moment. The sums of money lent are usually a few hundred dollars, lent for a few weeks, with interest charges of about $15 per $100 lent. That words out to annual interest rates in the hundreds - ...statistics that produce sensations in the media and in politics.

As Sowell points out, after Oregon prohibited interest charges in excess of 36% APR (an annual rate that makes little sense when applied to small, short term loans) nearly 75% of payday lenders closed their doors entirely. A more carefully written law might have considered the compounding function of interest in calculating the perceived "harm". Oregon could have limited the most egregious abuses by prohibiting long-term loans at exorbitant interest rates but allowing lenders to continue offering small, shorter term loans.

Sowell reminds us that government meddling often results in fewer options for the intended beneficiaries of well intentioned but arrogant public policies:

As for low income borrowers, supposedly the reason for the concern of the moral elites, denying the borrower the $100 needed to meet some exigency must be weighed against the $15 paid to meet that exigency. Why that trade-off decision should be forcibly removed by law from the person most knowledgeable about the situation, as well as most affected by it, and transferred to third parties far removed in specific knowledge and general circumstances, is a question that is seldom answered or even asked. With intellectuals who consider themselves knowledgeable as well as compassionate, it would seldom occur to them to regard themselves as interfering with things of which they are very ignorant - and doing so at costs imposed on people far less fortunate than themselves.

When individual decision making power is concentrated in the hands of "experts" who can't possibly factor in a multitude of individual preferences and circumstances, the result is rarely a net improvement. Or as Reagan once said:

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'

Posted by Cassandra at February 17, 2010 08:50 AM

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George Eliot:

"Fancy what a game of chess would be if all the chessman had passions and intellects, more or less small and cunning; if you were not only uncertain about your adversary's men, but a little uncertain also about your own . . . You would be especially likely to be beaten if you depneded arrogantly on your mathematical imagination, and regarded your passionate pieces with contempt. Yet this imaginary chess is easy compared with a game man has to play against his fellow-men with other fellow-men for instruments."

--in Felix Holt, the Radical (1866)
***
As I observed when I posted the above: Lots of political leaders and their academic advisors, and also more than a few business executives, fail to understand this point about the kind of "chess" that they are playing.


Posted by: david foster at February 17, 2010 12:48 PM

Fantastic quote, David. I'd never seen it before. I think it must be a lot easier to discount the actual wishes of the public when you view yourself as a white knight charging in to save them from their own irrational behavior :p

Posted by: Cassandra at February 17, 2010 01:04 PM

The blogger Dr. Sanity once pointed out that there are few things more dangerous than selfless narcissists - they will sacrifice themselves for your own good, even if you are just fine where you are, thank you. Especially if you are just fine, thank you. And heaven forbid that your reality should work better than their ideals.

I wonder how many of the do-gooders see the world in terms of Platonic Ideals, and feel that if things are not 100% perfect, than the only solution is to eliminate the 70% that works in order to put in place their Ideal (which may or may not work in reality).

Posted by: LittleRed1 at February 17, 2010 01:39 PM

The do-gooders are only too likely to do something even worse: sacrifice myself for their ideals.

My old bankruptcy law professor from lo these many years ago caught my attention one day talking about HFC loans, which were high-interest loans secured by household goods like refrigerators. The Bankruptcy Code had some kind of special exemption built into it that handicapped lenders like HFC from repossessing refrigerators. My professor was a wild-eyed bleeding heart (her name was Elizabeth Warren), but she pointed out to us that she'd always found this protective law a little smug. It was as if the legislators were saying, "I don't see any reason for the little people to go to HFC, even if it is the only lender available to them. Why, I always go to my personal banker when I need a loan."

Because of course the effect of the anti-HFC protection in the bankruptcy law was that HFC loans became unavailable in the first place.

Posted by: Texan99 at February 17, 2010 04:33 PM

Sears Roebuck still secures credit purchase obligations with the property being purchased.

Posted by: I Call BS at February 17, 2010 08:01 PM

Lay-away? I think K-mart or Wal-mart was plugging that this past holiday season. My parents did that often, back in the day, for Christmas presents and such, when we were growing up.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at February 17, 2010 11:22 PM

That's how I bought my last gun. Paid a little each month until I could go pay up and sign the papers.

Posted by: Oh Hell at February 18, 2010 12:57 AM

Re: Peggy Robertson

I really wonder if you would be so understanding if Obama exercised such control over your uterus.

Also, why didn't you mention that her 3 year-old son has been denied coverage twice by Humana?

First, for suffering from Breath-Holding Spells (BHS) which Humana said put her son at risk for having seizures. I guess denying coverage for 1 year-olds is also good for the bottom line.

After a year, she reapplied and he was denied again because her son is too short.

He is now covered by a meddling Colorado government insurance program designed for terminally ill kids despite the fact there is nothing wrong with him. I guess the Colorado government hasn't adopted Randy Newman's "Short People" song as public policy yet, unlike Humana.

Re: Payday loans

In October, 2006 President Bush signed into law a bill which limited payday loans to 36% APR for servicemembers.

link:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-10-17-paydayloans_x.htm


The reason the bill was passed was because the bleeding-heart liberal DoD published a report that showed:

"the average borrower pays $827 on a $339 loan"

Also from the article:

"Military officers pushed for the law, saying the loans saddled low-paid enlisted men and women with debts that ruined their finances, jeopardized security clearances and left them unable to deploy to Iraq or other assignments."

I wonder why TS doesn't mention that. W's bill was signed only 6 months after Oregon's law (April, 2006) and Sowell's book was published in 2009.

Posted by: Craig at February 18, 2010 11:16 AM

Wal-Mart quit doing layaways. The more I get into the cost side of accounting, the more I understand the reason, but I still think a layaway is a far better option for the consumer.

We have had credit cards for over 20 years. Never once did we default, as in refuse to pay. Late? Yes, it happens.

But if you read the weasel clauses the credit card companies have in the fine print, they are designed to keep you in debt.

For example, the payment due date and when the billing cycle starts. You can get your payment in by the due date, but the billing cycle will start some time before that, so if you payment is on time, but not *early* enough to make the cycle, and thus be reported on your statement, you are slapped with a late fee.

Then there are the universal default clauses. If you are late on a utility payment, or reported late or delinquent somewhere else. You are playing perpetual whack-a-mole with your utilities and your credit history to ensure that your interest rate to one creditor doesn't go to a default level because of something else. What do they call that...causation and correlation?
But my personal favorite was when we made our next to last payment on our Visa. We made the payment on time, on a Friday. Because it was after 2 pm, the payment didn't show as being made until 9 am the following Tuesday because MONDAY was a holiday (President's Day), and even though this particular bank was OPEN on Friday and Saturday to give people time to make their payments and deposits, banker's hours applied. So they tried to slap us with a late fee. Nup.
Went to the mat on that one.

So, while I agree with the premise that laws can be badly written, therefore making government more harmful, I also take issue with the predatory practices of supposedly legitimate lenders who use the laws to exploit people for gain.

But hey, that is my tiny little experience. You may not have had such an annoyance in your lives.
I Call BS, securing the loan with the purchase is bogus because of depreciation of the asset. Sears can repossess it, but it is worth less simply because of obsolescence. What credit is secured by is your ability to pay, not the asset in question.

Same with cars. What you fail to realize is that in a loan, especially with a mortgage, you will pay in ten years in interest, the price of your house. Equity is what the house will be worth if the house appreciates in value.


Cars and appliances, as a rule, don't appreciate unless there is an instrinsic value, such as unique or historic.

Posted by: Cricket at February 18, 2010 11:25 AM

I sort of help people with budgeting and tell them to consult CPA for the really hard questions (hence my knowledge about fine print) but my personal experience with usurious loans is Georgia's cozy little law that allows hospitals to file a lien or post as unpaid, a bill for their services after a catastrophic event.

Even though the Engineer and I had given our Humana/TriCare information to the hospital several times, the hospital in question refused to bill TriCare. It isn't that we weren't covered, the hospital thought they stood a better chance of getting their $57.40 if they filed a deliquency report first!

This had the effect of invoking a universal default clause on our VISA card...which we now no longer have. We paid it off. Toldja we were not in default or even delinquent. But when an entity can report you as such without doing their due diligence in getting paid, the little people have no recourse.

Posted by: Cricket at February 18, 2010 11:36 AM

Dear God, Craig. Learn to read the post before you type comments that aren't pertinent:

A more carefully written law might have considered the compounding function of interest in calculating the perceived "harm". Oregon could have limited the most egregious abuses by prohibiting long-term loans at exorbitant interest rates but allowing lenders to continue offering small, shorter term loans.

Obviously this:

"the average borrower pays $827 on a $339 loan"

is not the kind of loan I (or Sowell for that matter) was referring to.

*sigh*

Posted by: Cassandra at February 18, 2010 11:42 AM

The DoD did the study on short-term, payday loans that were technically considered short-term, but were continually "flipped" to pile up more and more debt.

From the article I linked to:

"The 36% rate cap means lenders can charge no more than $1.38 on a $100 loan for two weeks — an amount lenders say is too low to be profitable.

"That's why the 36% rate cap means we're getting out of the military business," said Steven Schlein, spokesman for the Consumer Financial Services of America, a trade group whose members operate half the 22,000 short-term lending stores across the USA."

Posted by: Craig at February 18, 2010 12:42 PM

Hmmm. Did the lender "flip" the loans?

No. THE BORROWER did. So essentially because some subset of people *decide* not to pay their loans off within the agreed period (and if that isn't a risk factor that justifies a higher interest rate I don't know what is), now no one can get a payday loan?

Seems to me the problem isn't the annual interest rate. It's allowing people to "flip" what should have been a short term loan.

Note that what happened is exactly what Sowell mentions: when government made it unprofitable, lenders left the market (translation: borrowers who were using payday loans the "right" way now can't get them because others were irresponsible).

Don't get me wrong: I think it's stupid to take payday loans. We lived below the poverty level the first few years of our marriage. We had no credit cards. If I wanted to finance something I took a share secured loan that was guaranteed by funds in my savings account.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 18, 2010 12:49 PM

Cassandra,

The military saw how predatory and abusive the payday loan scam was and how adversely it was affecting its servicemembers and effectively put a stop to it.

I'm sure that's what Oregon's law was meant to do, as well.

Posted by: Craig at February 18, 2010 12:58 PM

Paying $15 for a short term loan of $100 is predatory when you have bad credit?

Wow. Who knew?

I agree that some lenders engage in predatory practices. On the other hand they're offering a service that - if you abide by the terms of the deal you voluntarily agreed to - isn't duplicated anywhere else.

If people insist on paying bills late or not paying them at all, they will have bad credit. If they EARN a bad credit rating, they won't find credit cheap or easy to obtain.

If they consistently live beyond their means and spend money they don't have, they will get into trouble and look to someone else to bail them out.

You continue to avoid the points I've made, Craig. The point of Oregon's law was not to drive lenders out of business, nor to deprive the poor of access to credit.

It was to prevent people from doing dumb things with their own money, but instead of passing a law that made it punishable to do dumb things with your own finances (while preserving the ability of more responsible folks to get credit), they passed a law that made it illegal for lenders to charge interest rates commensurate with the risk of the loan in question. The "result" was that lending to the poor became unprofitable.

As my husband likes to say, "That's an approach." But it's not one that will prevent foolish people from making dumb financial decisions :p

Posted by: Cassandra at February 18, 2010 01:48 PM

The problem Craig, is that you think that is a feature and we think it's a bug.

If flipping the loan abuses the customer, that is the customer's fault not the lender's.

By forcing the lender out of the market you may be "protecting" some people from themselves (what, exactly, gives you the right to do that, btw?) but you are also harming innocent people in the process.

Of course, some of those people you've "protected" may not be so greatful as they never keep a dime of that $827 on that $339 loan, because not having the $339 got their car repossessed and so lost them their job. Now they're out a heck of a lot more than $500.

Nice job breaking it, hero.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 18, 2010 02:03 PM

Your concern for the financially strapped little people is touching, but other options are available to people who need money. These include pawnbrokers, credit union loans with lower interest and more stringent terms, credit payment plans, paycheck cash advances from employers, bank overdraft protection, cash advances from credit cards, emergency community assistance plans, small consumer loans and direct loans from family or friends.

Here's a USA Today article about a credit union's approach to actually helping people:

http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/general/2006-09-19-credit-unions-usat_x.htm

"Tellers at the North Carolina State Employees' Credit Union noticed a troubling change several years ago: The first people in line on payday were high-cost lenders, waiting to cash checks from credit union members.
A glance at the records showed thousands of credit union customers were turning to payday outlets for small loans to be repaid with their next paychecks. Such products typically carry annual fees of 300% to 1,000%. Many strapped borrowers repeatedly roll over the loans, sinking deeply into debt.

To wean its members from payday providers, the State Employees' Credit Union (SECU) in 2001 introduced a short-term loan that has a 12% annual interest rate, a maximum limit of $500, requires borrowers to repay via direct deposit of their paychecks and put 5% of loan proceeds in savings accounts. Each month, more than 40,000 people use the product, which has a maximum 31-day term. Overall, members have accumulated $10 million in savings accounts."

Posted by: Craig at February 18, 2010 03:55 PM

Each month, more than 40,000 people use the product,...

Out of how many. If there were 100,000 people and you got to skim off the best 40,000 then sure, you can make money at those rates.

"We wanted to find a way to get our members out of this trap," says Jim Blaine, SECU president. "We have a couple of our vice presidents using it, a vice chancellor of a university. ... It's not just a poor person's product."

Well, that explains the sub 4% default rate. They're selling it to people with good credit and high incomes. Not exactly the same customer base. (That and it's an article from 2006: i.e. before the credit crash. Default rates are a crap-ton worse now.)

Even the example they cite, Ora Houston, had a $35 "annual fee" (payable up-front I'm sure) which amounts to a 168% interest rate on a 30 day loan on top of her actual interest. So much for "12% interest". Plus they ran a credit check to ensure she was a acceptable credit risk.

So you're still charging a proportionally heaving amount while leaving a good many people out in the cold.

yea :-|

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 18, 2010 06:59 PM

Ora's credit was so bad, she was turned down by a payday lender, Yu.

I'd say she didn't have a high income at the time she got her $250.00 loan from the credit union.

The loan she got helped her improve her credit score and get a $1,000.00 no-fee line of credit.

They still have the payday lending alternative program and for 2009 SECU started a mortgage assistance program which helped 3,000 members stay in their homes.

They also started offering free tax preperations for low-income members, and the SECU Foundation opened a 40 bed hospice in 2008.

Posted by: Craig at February 18, 2010 07:58 PM

Craig, you are missing the most valid point; government didn't come up with that solution, the credit union did, and did so when they say a golden opportunity on a silver platter, so to speak. They are making money, but terms being what they are, 1% of 500.00 is $5.00, and 5% of that is $0.25. They are paying $60.00 a year for a $500.00 loan that is due in 31 days, so are there any penalties? And the savings are only $3.00 a year.

40,000 people use the product, but what is the criteria for membership in the credit union?
Technically, there should be none, but one never knows.

You are applauding their social conscience, but it is really motivated by the same needs as the PayDay loans; to improve their bottom line.

Posted by: Cricket at February 18, 2010 10:38 PM

Cricket,

They are helping their members get out of the payday loan debt cycle by giving them longer term loans. It says that 1,000 of the 9,000 credit unions now offer alternative loan programs.

The article also says SECU sets up a plan for its members to pay off the loan in 18 months.

Also, the article says that meddling Oregon government officials were working with credit unions to offer alternatives to payday loans after they passed their 36% APR cap.

I'd much rather see SECU make a 2% return with loans that actually help people than have a payday loan ooffice exploit the poor.

Posted by: Craig at February 18, 2010 11:28 PM

I do applaud credit unions for coming up with alternatives, although they were slow to do so.
The primary reason credit unions exist is to help Americans in times of need.

Here's a snippet from the Edward Filene's wiki page:

"In 1907 Filene traveled around the world, and by February reached Calcutta, India. There, he visited some rural cooperative banks that had been promoted and funded by the British colonial government. On his return, he contacted his associate Franklin D. Roosevelt and suggested that a similar type of organization be promoted by the US government in the Philippines.

He realized that credit unions could help ordinary American workers to access loans when they needed them without falling victim to usury. Equally important, workers could save their money so that when hard times hit, they were prepared."


link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Filene

Posted by: Craig at February 19, 2010 05:52 AM

Credit unions are the outgrowth of a building and loan association.

Let me make this succinct: Credit unions are not altruistic institutions. They are there to make money. They are not registered as 'non-profit.'

I ran the numbers. The average savings is $31.25 a month. At the MINIMUM, assuming a loan is paid off in a year, and it is *only* $500.00, the payments are less than 47.00 a month. Fine. Low cost loan. But what *if* the minimum payment was less than that? It will take two years. Or if the principal amount borrowed triples and the minimum payment is $19.00 a month? It will take 30 years to pay it off at the minimum if they do not increase the amount of principal they are paying off.

Bottom line, the credit union wins. The house always wins. I am a member of one of the best banks on the planet. USAA. They didn't take a bailout, and they cater shamelessly to service members because that is the bulk of their membership; active duty, retirees, veterans and family members of same. But even USAA is in it to make money.

Most debt is revolving debt, except for the loan on your house. You can borrow against the equity, but why put your house at risk if there is no need to do so? If you do, there is the attendant problem that you might get in over your head.

We turned down a very refinancing loan. It was 2% a month less than what we are paying now on our mortgage, but the flip side was that it would jump to 4% MORE than what we are paying. With regard to interest and your ability to save, what goes up, will come down. With a loan, what was down, will go up.

If you are not in debt at all except to a mortgage or a student loan, you are blessed.

Check out Dave Ramsey and Clark Howard. I am fans of both and they fight more for the little guy than a credit union would.

Posted by: Cricket at February 19, 2010 09:46 AM

Cricket,

U.S. credit unions are indeed not-for-profit, cooperative, tax-exempt organizations which can be chartered at the state or federal level.

But non-profit doesn't mean they have to lose money on a financial transaction.

Posted by: Craig at February 19, 2010 10:54 AM

Ora's credit was so bad, she was turned down by a payday lender, Yu.

No, the payday lender would have had no idea what her credit looked like because they would never pull a credit score. They cost way too much money relative to the revenue ($10 cost compared to $25 revenue is a big chunk of change). So they have no way to determine if she has good, bad, or borderline credit.

The credit union, by dint of having a higher income pool of customers can subsidize the costs and take on the borderline customers. And trust me, at a sub 4% default rate they ain't booking bad credit scores on an unsecured product. To get that kind of default rate, their lending guidelines are *tight*. Prime credit card portfolios typically aren't that clean.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 19, 2010 11:23 AM

"If you are not in debt at all except to a mortgage or a student loan, you are blessed.

Check out Dave Ramsey and Clark Howard. I am fans of both and they fight more for the little guy than a credit union would."

You've got that right Ms. Cricket. Living within one's means, as has been stated, is the whole shooting match. A match which revolves around risk versus benefit. A consideration for not only the big boys such as banks, credit unions, corporations and such, but for individuals. And as we will soon see, for nations too.

*Jack Handy deep thought alert*
I wonder why those who advocate for high risk propositions, and usually with the most verve, are rarely willing to expose themselves to any risk with respect to the cost of the advocated risk?

Posted by: bthun at February 19, 2010 11:29 AM

I sit corrected. However, if they exist to serve their members, they still have to operate with a tighter tolerance than most, as Yu-Ain points out. If they didn't, they couldn't serve their members. After all, a PayDay loan would just fritter away their profits on riotous living.

I find it laughable that a credit union helps its members; I have had to do a reconciliation with my credit union; found they had held on to our income tax rebate check (funds are to be made available immediately) to get the interest (common practice) in a pooled account. My car payment check bounced. When they admitted their faux pas, we joined USAA. We have been happy bank customers for 14 years.

As much as I loathe Yugo Chavez, he got the right of it by paying off his country's debt to the IMF and the World Bank. Then he blew it by nationalizing the oil industry. CitGo gas stations went out of business overnight.

Posted by: Cricket at February 19, 2010 12:02 PM

CitGo around here. I haven't heard about the rest of the country.

Posted by: Cricket at February 19, 2010 12:03 PM

Cricket,

Citgo is still very much around. About 13,000 stations and 3 refineries in the US.

Also, they have established a payday loan alternative program specifically for people with bad credit.

If a member of SECU had decent credit, why would they subject themselves to a relatively high interest loan (12%) with mandatory paycheck deductions when there are so many cheaper and easier methods of getting a loan?

Posted by: Craig at February 19, 2010 01:17 PM

SECU has the alternative loan program, not Citgo.

Posted by: Craig at February 19, 2010 01:25 PM

Yu,

The article said Ora was denied a loan by a payday lender. Perhaps she previously bounced a check there or defaulted on a payday loan. Who knows. I didn't write the article.

Posted by: Craig at February 19, 2010 01:28 PM

Exactly, we don't know why she was turned down, but we do know the Credit Union performed a higher level of due diligence in booking the loan.

If a member of SECU had decent credit, why would they subject themselves to a relatively high interest loan (12%) with mandatory paycheck deductions when there are so many cheaper and easier methods of getting a loan?

Because credit cards are at 18% and revolving debt look worse on a credit report.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 19, 2010 01:44 PM

It isn't very much around in my neck of the woods.
Which you would have read in my last post before this one. I was also making a point about Chavez nationalizing the oil, and CitGo was using oil from Venezuela. When it was announced he had nationalized the oil companies, almost overnight
they closed down in my area.

Then the author who wrote it should tell the whole story, don't you think? When a loan shark
bidness denies someone credit because of past performance, do you think it is because it is a good indication of future behavior?

Nah. Couldn't be.

Posted by: Cricket at February 19, 2010 04:10 PM

Cricket,

Citgo is wholly owned by Venezuela. They did stop supplying 14% of their stations in 2006, which left them with something like 12,000 retailers.

Regarding Ora's story, she was able to pay back her SECU loan and get a no-fee $1,000 line of credit from them. I'd say she straightened herself out at least temporarily.

Cheers!

Posted by: Craig at February 19, 2010 06:25 PM

I refused to buy Citgo gas for that reason, and, so did a lot of other people around here.

But then, we are those hairy-knuckled, mouth-breathing gun 'n bible totin' bitter red-staters.

Right back atcha!

PS. We red-necked red staters also buy American.
While I do a small amount of food recon at Wal-mart, the bulk of my shopping is at Publix, an employee owned company. It is thriving very well in the Southeast.

Posted by: Cricket at February 19, 2010 07:49 PM

"hairy-knuckled, mouth-breathing gun 'n bible totin' bitter red-stater"
You rang?

I'm old enough to know better than to say never, but I'd never buy Hugo's Citgo products.

As far as grits? Publix is a primary source for the reasons you mention Ms. Cricket. But since I qualify for the Wednesday seasoned citizen discount at Kroger, I'm all over their grits too.

I've been known to hit the big farmer's market in Forest Park, during the summer, when the spine and exoskeleton are in sync. The local Harry's Market is a frequent stop too.

And there's my pantry of home-grown, canned veggies and what venison and fish comes my way.

That's some mighty fine eatin, if I say so myself.

Yup, life is good in South Flyover.

Posted by: bt_Lurch_hun at February 19, 2010 09:09 PM

I can honestly say I have never bought Citgo gas.

I am a Sunoco guy who has never owned a non-GM car and probably never will even though they have dumped my beloved Pontiac Grand Am from their line-up.

I personally despise Wal-mart but loves me some Costco and Kroger.

I'm originally from blue PA but now live in purple Ohio.

Have a great weekend, Cricket!

Posted by: Craig at February 19, 2010 09:10 PM

I own a Ford and a Jeep. They are known as my Precious and the Captain's Yacht.

Grits? Oh lawsy me I do love grits. Especially the stone ground ones. I go to the Forest Park
Farmer's Market as well, and sometimes, the one in DeKalb. We do a trip to both locations once a quarter. At the former, we get onions and potatoes by the bushel (essential when you are feeding bottomless pit teenagers with hollow legs), and fruits for canning. Pears, apples, peaches (CAN'T WAIT for the season!), tomatoes, melons and grapefruit soda from Mexico. I loathe Squirt. Too many funky ingredients. Soda is a treat to be eaten with homemade Mexican food.

Craig, my husband is from PA and he grew up on things like Fastnachts, scrapple, apple butter, chicken potpie (a Yankee version of chicken and dumplins) and schnitz und knepp.

bt hun..venison...YUM. I salted down some buckboard bacon and will be smoking it this Sunday after church. I do love making charcuterie and other preserved meats. There is something so satisfying about raising your own food and preparing it...just makes life worth living.

Especially when our children not only help, but get to enjoy the fruit of their labor as well.

Yes, indeedy, life is good here in the South.

Posted by: Cricket at February 19, 2010 10:17 PM

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