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Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Under Bush, Uncle Sam is Ailing, and Auntie Trust is Dead
Two of the nations largest banks, Bank of America and FleetBoston Financial, are planning to merge. Both control far too much of the consumer banking business already. This will, of course, lead to layoffs of "redundant" workers, and one fewer choice for banking and credit cards. I've got a Fleet Visa, and I was pretty shocked to discover, after years of paying my bill on time, that they charge $35 if your payment is a day or two late (in addition to hitting you with interest charges). The added leverage of this new behemoth will enable them to either buy up or force out of business a lot of the remaining smaller banks, and the late fees will probably go even higher.

One-hundred years ago, Congress passed, and President Theodore Roosevelt signed, anti-trust legislation designed to prevent this sort of anti-competitive merger. (I don't have time to look it all up, but I think that's basically correct.) In the past twenty years, Republicans and Democrats alike have done nothing to enforce these laws, mostly because these huge conglomerates make huge campaign contributions. As long as I'm expected to have a job in order to survive in this country, I'm opposed to all mergers designed to increase efficiency and productivity. They're just one more way for the already rich to take even more money from the already poor.