Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Giving Credit

Every time I go to the mailbox, it becomes more and more obvious to me that the news media is not doing their job.

Whenever our country has faced troubled times, wars, recessions, celebrities getting out of cars without underwear, we've been able to rely on the mass media to bring us the truth, and deliver that truth to every corner of the Fruited Plain. But, as the specter of economic doom rises above our nation, foreclosures, bank failures, Starbucks closing stores, it is clear to me that the media is not getting the word out. At least not to the people who send me my daily dose of junk mail.

I'm not one to reveal in depth information about my finances on a blog, but since the mortgage crisis arose my personal line of credit has risen several thousand dollars. Both Master Card and Visa think I'm a swell guy, and Chase thinks my wife is a real sweetie. According to the letters they send on a monthly basis we have "earned" the "privileges" that come with a "sterling" record of responsibility. All of this is sent to a man in his forties who is sitting at home in the middle of the day writing a blog.

What gets me is the come-ons from the hoity-toity cards who want my business. American Express really, really, really wants me to get their card. Not the Tiger Woods card for those mamby-pamby wannabes. Oh no. I mean the down and dirty, executive level, don't leave home without it - and by "home" we mean The United States - American Express card. If I sent in one of the dozen or so forms I have on my desk right now - or maybe all of them - I could buy Annheiser Busch and keep your Bud an American beer. Hell. While I'm at it, might as well snap up the Chrysler Building, and maybe the Cincinnati Reds. (But Steve, you say in protest, you don't know the first thing about running a major league- Oh. Yeah. On second thought, go for it.)

I expect a letter in the mail addressed to one of our cats any day now. It'll read:

Dear Mr. Rum-Tum-Tigger,

Congratulations are in order, as you have earned the privileges that come with responsible financial management. Apply today for the Feline Fiduciary Card, and instantly earn points you can redeem on your next purchase at Petland, while carrying a low interest rate. And we waive the first year's service charge. Simply send in the application below, or come in to one of our branches and rub against the legs of one of our account executives today.

And it's not just the mail offers. The TV commercials for credit cards have hit an all-time high for creativity. Late night shows are riddled with slick, funny, and memorable ads for Capital One cards. Every night these commercials ask the late night college dorm Carson Daly audience "What's in your wallet?" Based on the number of commercials they run, I'd say a lot more than pizza money and a "just in case" condom.

So, with all this free credit being offered, it's very apparent that these credit card companies have not heard the news that there's a credit crisis going on in this country. Surely, these are intelligent people running these outfits. I mean they handle money, for crying out loud. They don't just let anybody run these places, do they? Right. So, there can only be one explanation for the disconnect: it's the media's fault.

Why has the news media failed in informing our financial institutions of this grave situation that grips this country? Is it a lack of fortitude? Have our journalists lost the ability to stand up and tell the truth to the corporate giants who may not want to hear it? Have we lost the verve, the zeal for justice, on which the foundation of this great nation was built? Or is Brian Williams simply afraid to talk too much about Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac because he knows it makes him sound like Hank on "King of the Hill?"

I don't know. But while I wait for an answer, I think I'll go buy an I-Phone. Let's see... should I use the Discover? or the Visa? or the Chase? Or...

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