Marketplace Scratch Pad

Morning Reading

Scott Jagow Mar 3, 2010

Good morning. A few things to interest or provoke you, from taxes to consumer protection to health care:

How high could the US tax rate go? (Time)

Dodd’s compromise will kill the CFPA (The Nation)

Dodd is wrong, way, way wrong, to think that consumers could be protected by the Federal Reserve. It’s as crazy as thinking chickens could be protected by foxes.

Indeed, if the Banking Committee chair advances a plan to place the Consumer Financial Protection Agency within the Fed, then he has given up on reforming financial services in a way that would help Americans who write checks, use credit cards or seek loans.

Why a Consumer Protection Agency is necessary (Big Picture)

Huge swaths of people, did not understand what they were buying, what it cost them, what their other options were, whether they could afford it or not.

I am not saying this to exonerate their ignorance — it is inexcusable in my opinion. Adults must take responsibility for their decision making, regardless of how foolish it may have been. That home buyers cannot figure out a basic financing document is beyond my comprehension. However, that is the way it is. We must acknowledge the simple reality, if we wish to avoid this problem in the future. That’s why we need to insure consumers understand what they are purchasing.

Banks aggressively try to repair their image (LA Times)

After largely avoiding public attention for the last 18 months, some of the country’s biggest banks are trying to repair their battered images and win back trust with earnest ad campaigns that tentatively confront the question of blame. Bank of America Corp., for example, has launched a website focused not on a credit card or checking account product but on public perception of the bank. Pandit of Citibank and BofA’s CEO, Brian Moynihan, have been making appearances at individual bank branches. Even Goldman Sachs Group Inc., known for an aloof public stance, is acknowledging criticism — with mixed results.

Health care is a good, not a natural right (Real Clear Markets)

We don’t have a right to good health. We do have a right to live how best we know to improve our health, but we didn’t pop out of the womb with a divine guaranty of ease and comfort. Nor can the state offer such.

One person’s misfortune never constitutes society’s obligation. A problem aggravated by social programs is the entitlement attitudes they engender. That government somehow bears responsibility to remove the pain and hardship from life. Unfortunately, Americans have grown inured to statist “solutions” and now flock to politicians who promise Utopian fantasies.

Why pay for health insurance when you can steal it? (NPR)

Over the past 12 months, the hospital has seen nine instances of identity theft — four in the past 45 days, says Betty Breshears, vice president of corporate integrity at the hospital.

Breshears is teaching the hospital’s emergency room staff about “red flags” that signal when a patient is using someone else’s name, Social Security number or insurance card.

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