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The Cascade

By Jesse Taylor
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 15:27 EDT

Perhaps the reason that we’re in such a debt crunch these days isn’t because we’re all weak-minded simpletons who look at the national debt and say, “I want me some of that!”, but instead a system which is designed at virtually every corner to maximize the burden on debtor to the benefit of the lender?

Modern debt falls into what I call the cascade of ratfucking. Debt often begins or amasses because of bad decisions, but is then amplified by a system which makes every bad decision exponentially worse. You miss one payment, you then pay fees and a higher interest rate on both the fees and the debt you already had (and which you amassed at a lower rate). You pay the increased payment, but because your bank takes out deposits before crediting withdrawals, you get overdraft fees because even though the money came out on payday, the deposit went in at close of business. If you have overdraft protection, you paid the fee from your savings account or the finance charges on your card to save yourself from paying the other fee if it was simply a regular overdraft.

This, of course, is if you even have a checking account, and don’t have to pay to cash your check, pay for the money orders necessary to pay your bills (because nobody takes cash), pay the extra fees to process your payment in person, and deal with the late fees from juggling bills month-to-month.

As much as David Brooks would like to think we’ve turned debt into some sort of perverse, socially rewarded virtue, we haven’t. Granted, we did have the great APR-Off of 2004, but when we tried to hold it the next year, nobody had the room on their card to put down the deposit at Rent-A-Center for the TV.

Faux News’ E.D. Hill’s asinine ‘fist bump’ terror alert

By pams

Fox News’ America’s Pulse host E.D. Hill must have gotten an associate-Obama-with-terrorism-at-all-costs memo from upstairs, as she desperately tried to interpret the “fist bump” between Michelle and Barack Obama in a unique segment featuring a “body language expert.” Now I don’t know why the fist bump is worth dissecting, but if it’s some sort of secret signal to fellow terrorists, then I guess my governor, Mike “Pansy” Easley (who received one yesterday when Obama swung…


Chatting about feminism and Hillary Clinton

By Amanda Marcotte

I’ll be on KFPA out of Berkeley this morning with Kim Gandy of NOW and Shireen Mitchell, Founder of Digital Sisters to discuss Clinton’s feminist legacy and the future of women in politics, starting at 7AM Pacific Time, 10AM Eastern Time. You can listen to it here.…


I’ve Heard Rumors You Smell Like Poo

By Jesse Taylor

Via Whiskey Fire, the National Review is proposing an innocent, simple solution that should help Barack Obama – showing us his papers, please: Having done some Obama-rumor debunking that got praise from Daily Kos (a sign of the apocalypse, no doubt), perhaps the Obama campaign could return the favor and…


Bishop to impotent paraplegic: no church wedding for you

By pams

Imagine being a devoted churchgoer and being told that you cannot marry in the church because you’re impotent because of a car accident. An Italian bishop has reportedly told a young paraplegic he cannot have a church wedding because he is impotent, despite his fiancee being aware of the problem.…


Well, what do you know about that?

By auguste

I like this news very much: Obama’s speech in Raleigh launching his economy tour is underway, and towards the end, during a discussion of health care, he drops a surprise aside that wasn’t in the speech’s prepared remarks: “By the way, I’m going to be partnering with Elizabeth Edwards, we’re…


Worst. Job. Ever.

By Jesse Taylor

Although I liked this article’s focus on fairness as the main reason for burnout, I wish this hadn’t been in there: Burnout has been long associated with being overworked and underpaid, but psychologists Christina Maslach and Michael Leiter found that these were not the crucial factors. The single biggest difference…



By Jesse Taylor

Barack Obama speaks with the same mewling incapacity of a James Buchanan or a Franklin Pierce. Fie, I say!…


Using people’s personal angers against them

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, June 9, 2008 23:32 EDT

I’m in a sympathetic mood, because I just finished listening to Mat Johnson on a podcast talking about the diehard Clinton supporters who have clearly projected their own struggles onto Hillary Clinton and are taking her defeat in the primary as a referendum on their very right to be in…


Not quite a stripper pole for your toddler, but close

By Amanda Marcotte

High heels for infant girls.…