Even Banks and Credit Card Companies are Dishonest
There is a truism ~ everybody lies. These days, even the people you should be able to trust to help you look after your money will lie to you. Just three recent examples in the news;
- Thousands of staff at Wells Fargo Bank routinely created false customer accounts based on real customers’ email addresses. All told about 2 million fake accounts were created. These fake accounts were allegedly used by staff to meet their sales targets ~ and some 5,300 Well Fargo staff have been fired. Would that it were all ~ trust me, there is more nasty news to come on this one concerning customer charges and wrong-doings higher up in the bank.
- The great credit card scandal continues. Credit cards are a rip-off for everyone except the banks. Despite official interest rates being at an historic low, the interest charged on credit card balances continues to rise to usury levels. And, in Britain Mastercard is accused of setting punitive charges on retailers, resulting in an estimated overcharging of £14 billion between 1992 and 2008. Guess who ends up paying for all this ~ you do. Mastercard are being taken to court in a class action.
- Four ex-employees of Barclays Bank are facing long jail terms for manipulating LIBOR. You may think LIBOR, (London Inter Bank Offered Rate), has got nothing to do with you. As a matter of fact the interest costs of everything you have ever borrowed is based on Libor. If you can’t trust the financial markets, then who can you trust?
Not one of the companies and people you trust to manage your money are completely honest with you. When it comes to your money, trust nobody.
Complete honesty is much more than not cheating, stealing, and lying ~ although banks, insurance companies, pension providers, credit card companies, financial advisers, et al, do more than enough outright cheating, stealing, and lying. Complete honesty means not lying by omission, being straightforward, being open, telling you what you need to know, avoiding obfuscation… None of the financial companies and people you deal with abide by that definition of honesty.
If they wanted to be really honest, then they wouldn’t have you sign a legal agreement which included pages and pages of small print.
What should you do;
- Check your bank and credit card statements for unexpected items, especially unexpected charges.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
- If it looks to good to be true it is.
- If you don’t understand something, have it clearly explained until you do understand.
- Never pay for financial advice, never pay an up-front or annual fee for a credit card or bank account.
In high finance there is a concept called ‘counter-party risk’ ~ one of the assumptions in that concept is ‘buyer beware’, never assume that the person or company you are dealing with is telling you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
George Bailey would be horrified.
Breaking News Shock Horror!!!!!
It seems the Rich and Powerful use tax havens to avoid paying their fair share.
Well, there’s a bloody surprise. Who could have guessed it? You could knock me down with a feather.
We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes. ~ Leona Helmsley (from 1989)
I worked in Banking and Financial Engineering all of my ‘official’ career, and I’ve known this ever since I could tell which side of a cheque was the front. Any Banker worth his salt knows that the rich and powerful don’t actually pay taxes. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer knew this, so did the US Secretary of the Treasury, and the Minister of Finance in France, and everyone else with more intelligence than a demented gerbil. Even dimwit David Cameron’s father knew all about international tax avoidance.
These people have to pretend surprise now that the whole Panama Papers thing has hit the news. (For some of these people the brown stuff has really hit the fan ~ because their roles in all of this will now be in the limelight.)
There are a few basic techniques, (conjuring tricks), towards not paying taxes;
- Your companies are ‘officially’ based in and report through a low-taxation regime; Dublin Docks, the Irish-Dutch Sandwich, Lichtenstein, one of the obscure Caribbean nations, & etc, & etc….
- You ‘officially’ reside in a low taxation regime, Switzerland is nice, Monaco even more so.
- You don’t actually make any money. Trust me, it’s ridiculously easy to not make any money.
- You don’t own anything except your companies. Everything you buy is on the company, everything you use is on the company, the company owns all of your homes, your private jet, your yacht, your cars…
- Your companies ‘officially’ make losses.
- You don’t employ anyone. Your lawyers, accountants, butlers, drivers, maids, pilots, yacht captain, mistresses, hookers, are all employed by the companies you control. Your company even pays the bill when you eat at a fancy restaurant.
- All direct taxes, sales tax, value added tax, are reclaimed through the companies you control.
- Get ‘slightly criminal’ and invest in bearer shares and bearer bonds.
- Choose your banks very carefully, HSBC has a global reach and is really good at this stuff, (as well as money laundering if you require that service).
It would be boring to go on and on, but you get the basic idea.
Various top people in various governments are making a big show of trying to put a stop to all these scams. Don’t hold your breath. The efforts to make global finance more transparent are more up-front show than Las Vegas.
You know what? It’s actually worse than that. If you are rich enough, and powerful enough, various governments will fall over themselves to give you a shed-load of money. Put up a few ugly wind turbines, invest in a lot of solar power, plant some trees, buy the British steel industry… The list of things for which your government will make the rich even richer is long, wide, and detailed. Read some of it and weep.
There is a slightly brighter spot on the horizon. Rich and powerful men just can’t stop getting married to gorgeous, scheming, avaricious women. When the marriage breaks up, then their ex will take them for all she can get ~ and the divorce lawyers will be rubbing their hands with glee. Serves the evil bastards right.
There is one brutal truth you need to remember; The Rich get Richer, and you get ground into the shit. Meanwhile the old-age pensioner has to choose between heating her home and buying enough to eat.
life be would very different
if women did not squander time
filling every precious minute
collecting pointless crap
while the clock wastes it’s chime
at least she’s consistent
spending your last dime
kidnapping you with dithering
like a mouse in a trap
into her sordid life of crime
words and pictures by jack collier
(almost got arrested by a park ranger for collecting those branches)
I have been reading some weird and disturbing stuff about techno-sex;
Some say that sexbots could seriously damage human relationships.
And, that android sex slaves reinforce male stereotypes of submissive women.
The best fembots can mimic a realistic orgasm.
Sex between humans and machines may soon become the norm.
Cute sexbots offer continuous ardent attention.
Robophilia is natural, libidinous, and sexually fulfilling for both men and women.
Japanese men think girlfriend apps are better than human girls.
Your robotic lover can be an erotic sexual surrogate for your human partner.
There are no off-limits for a fembot.
Intelligent robotic sex slaves will soon be almost indistinguishable from humans.
Robot sex allows any and all perversions.
Sexbots can be programmed with any personality, from submissive to dominatrix.
Virtual sex improves on sex with a human partner.
Both male and female sexbots will swallow cum after a blowjob.
Sexbots will talk as dirty as a practiced whore.
A robot ethicist says falling in love with your sexbot may be injurious to your health.
Sexbot porn is already available on-line and on film.
All I know is that cooler guys know real girls who might like to roleplay the submissive android, from time to time.
THEY HAVE LEARNED NOTHING AND FORGOTTEN NOTHING
After the abdication of Napoleon, Tallyrand was supposed to have coined the above phrase when speaking about the restored Bourbon dynasty to the throne of France. Einstein may have unwittingly borrowed from this when he gave as his definition of insanity as Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. For another example of willful hubristic stupidity to which both quotations could apply you need look no further than the major banks of Europe and North America. The people running these organisations still seem to be completely lacking in ability, common sense, expertise, foresight, honesty and integrity. One major scandal after another appears in the press with such predictable regularity that nobody seems to take much notice any more. And, for a professional banker with 30 years experience, it is as plain as pikestaff what, why, when, how, where, and who went wrong in each and every case.
Bank of America was ordered to refund and pay fines amounting to about $772 million in April of this year because of it’s illegal charging of customers for credit monitoring and credit reporting services that were never delivered. Allegedly, there was an institutional culture of mis-selling in the bank’s telemarketing department, or so says the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
In the UK the Co-op Bank has recently apologised for making a loss of £1.3 billion in 2013. The bank has also said that it does not expect to make a profit in 2014 and 2015. There is a strong argument for renaming this bank, as it is no longer a co-operative organisation, having already sold out to US hedge funds to plug a £1.5 billion hole in its balance sheet. Another £400 million is now required. The Co-operative Group is no longer the bank’s parent, and any claims the bank ever had to being an ethical organisation have vanished like smoke in the wind. The bank has admitted that these losses are due to ‘past misconduct and poor documentation.’ This is a supposedly ethical bank which has to pay £103 million compensation to customers for mis-selling Payment Protection Insurance, and another £114 million for overcharging on mortgage payments. The disgraced Paul Flowers, a drug addict who is also addicted to casual homosexual relations, had no abilities or experience to qualify his appointment as Chairman of the Co-op Bank. If nothing else that appointment says a lot about how badly this bank was run. I see no immediate signs of improvement.
Credit Suisse has pleaded guilty in US courts to criminal charges related to helping Americans evade taxes. The giant Swiss bank will pay a fine of some $2.5 billion. Eric Holder, US attorney general stated that hundreds of Credit Suisse employees, ‘conspired to help tax cheats dodge US taxes.’ If I were one of those Credit Suisse employees I would not plan on visiting the USA any time soon. This is not the first example of Bankers forgetting that they are not above the law.
Deutsche Bank is looking for 8 billion Euro, mostly from Qatar, and mostly to help the German bank pay fines, compensation and the cost of properly meeting regulatory requirements in its Investment Banking arm. Deutsche is another bank facing a shareholders’ revolt over plans to boost executive bonuses.
Standard Chartered has just suffered a shareholder rebellion at its Annual General Meeting. There was a 41% vote against its pay policy, the over-large number of executive directors on the board, the soft targets for top executives, high bonuses and a profit warning. Standard Chartered was recently fined £415 million for breaching US sanctions against Iran.
BNP Parisbas is currently trying to agree a $3 billion plea-bargain with the New York Department of Financial Services to resolve investigations into allegations that the French Bank violated US sanctions against Iran and Sudan, among other countries. Again, these are criminal charges. Employees concerned will be lucky if the worst they can expect is the sack.
British banks are facing an increasing number of complaints about fee-paying packaged accounts. Customers are paying up to £300 a year for supposed benefits they didn’t know existed or didn’t ever want. As banks see these packaged accounts as their new nice little earner, they are routinely rejecting customer complains, meaning the UK Financial Ombudsman’s disputes arbitration service becomes involved. Some 78% of referred complaints are upheld after initial rejection by the bank concerned. Some critics have said that this shows banks have a ‘rotten culture’ and that they have learned nothing from previous mis-selling scandals. As there are some 9 million packaged accounts already in use, we can expect the banks to be hit with another serious of massive fines for mis-selling in due course. British Banks have set targets for the number of these accounts sold by their retail staff, so expect customers to continue to be pressured into taking one of these useless products.
In 2013 Britain’s four largest banks; Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland were between them forced to set aside £21.5 billion to cover fines and compensation to customers. This is in addition to a total of about £25 billion incurred by these banks since the financial crash of 2008, in relation to meeting the costs of financial misconduct, including rigging the LIBOR market.
It’s not just in the major centres that bankers seem to have been making one monumentally incorrect decision after another. In Hungary, the banking sector faces costs of billions of florints to unwind the ‘foreign currency mortgages’ scandal. Anyone who thinks that borrowing in a currency where you have no income stream is a good idea should be locked up, bankers especially.
All of the above cautionary tales have some common causes. Monumental hubris and a complete lack of relevant banking expertise by the directors and management concerned at each bank. Worse than that, even a cursory look at the facts of each case shows a surprising reluctance to face the brutal truth by the people concerned.
Sadly, it is not only banks that seem to have an insidious culture of sticking the corporate head in the sand. Companies as diverse as BP, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, Pfizer and UBS have been hit with huge corporate fines in recent years. Often these fines are the result of mis-selling. You tell me why BP has recently been fined $34 billion.
The hard truth is; Any new or revamped product offered by a bank should be treated with the utmost suspicion. If your bank gives you any hassle, find another bank. George Bailey must be turning in his grave.
FIRST THERE WAS THE FLAT PACK WARDROBE, THEN THE FLAT PACK KITCHEN, THE FLAT PACK HOUSE AND NOW THE FLAT PACK CAR
If you thought only IKEA did flat pack, take a look at the OSVehicle Project. Italians Francisco Liu and Ampelio Macchi are behind the Tabby Car, which is to be available as a flat pack kit for between £3,300 and £5,000 (Euro 4,000 to 6,000). Seemingly; all electric, hybrid and traditional engined versions can be built in a multiplicity of 2 and 4 seat versions.
Plans are already available on line from http://www.osvehicle.com and plans for a fully street-legal version, the Urban Tabby, are to be available soon.
From the website; ‘Tabby is an open source framework for vehicles’ which takes only 1 hour to assemble, allegedly. I’ve spent hours not assembling an IKEA chest of drawers. Non the less, looking at the specifications and a timelapse video of a Tabby being assembled, I’m pretty confident that a half-way competent mechanic could build the basic vehicle in an afternoon.
Then it would get a bit more complicated. Seemingly an all-electric version can be shipped now. An Integrated Hybrid Engine is due for release in the winter of 2014; (presumably that means Q4 2014). Fitting a small petrol or diesel engine will need a fair amount of work from the builder. Making the thing road legal will need a lot of work.
As far as I know the Tabby will be covered by The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) regulations 1986, (as amended), in the United Kingdom. Other countries will have their own versions of these rules, to which all road cars must be built. If you build your own Tabby, then in the UK it would be registered as a kit car http://www.direct.gov.uk/vehiclereg A twelve page document is available on line and by post; Guidelines on how you can register kit cars and rebuilt or radically altered vehicles.
Making the thing fit the regulations should be fairly easy if you opt for the Urban Tabby, much more difficult if you fit your own bodywork, lights, engine… However the team say that this will be the first ‘open source’ car it will be legal to drive on roads. Interesting. Having built a few cars I can confidently say that, it’s easy if you know what you’re doing, but a lot more complex and involved than you’d think.
Having built a few kit cars, rebuilt several classic cars, modified a few cars, built a flat pack tractor, repaired a Massey Ferguson, I can confidently say that it’s worth an interested person with some relevant skills downloading the ‘free’ drawing and specifications for the basic Tabby. At least that will give you some idea of the engineering behind the project. I would not attempt to build a chassis from scratch, that will require lots of unpleasant cutting and bending, and that is too much like hard work.
You can also pre-order 2 and 4 seat chassis, (Euro 500), battery packs, (Euro 698), and electric powertrain, (Euro 1,520). One thing is for certain, that will teach you a lot about vehicle engineering. Going from that to something you can use on the road needs a bit more effort.
The hard truth is; Personally, If I wanted to build a 2 seater car from a kit, I’d start looking at something like Westfield http://www.westfield-sportscars.co.uk Caterham http://www.uk.caterhamcars.com JAS Beach Buggies http://www.beachbuggies.co.uk or I’d buy ex ex-military Land Rover and rebuild it. However, if I wanted to set up a small business building say; Golf Buggies, or Electric Delivery Vehicles, or Funky Sports Cars, or something like the old Mini Moke, then I would take a serious look at the Tabby from the OSVehicle Project. The plans are free to download. Remember, to be road-legal the finished car must meet a hell of a lot of regulations, and if it’s a one-off go through a very rigorous inspection. Ideally you want the initial manufacturer to have done a lot of that legal legwork for you. Ideally you don’t want to have to read all of the regulations to ensure the stop lights are in the right places.