Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Was talking to William Nolan, the author of Logan's Run, in the store yesterday about the life of a writer.

The new movie of Logan's Run is about to be filmed, and the day they start shooting he's getting a nice little check. He's 80 years old, but he was really excited.

He's written over 80 books, but he and I talked about how hard it can be to live the life of the writer, the ups and downs. He's the first guy I've talked to when I explained why I chose the life of a businessman rather than a writer who truly understood what I was saying.

We were talking about debt. He fell deep into debt at one point, and had to sell his house. I talked about how in the late '90's I had to go to Consumer Credit Counseling to get my credit cards paid off. We were talking some big sums.

There was a couple of women standing at the counter during this, and the younger woman, said "Tell me about this Consumer Credit Counseling....I thought those things are scams."

"I think most of them are, " I said. "But CCC is run by the credit card industry itself, so if you have to do it, go there. But I warn you, it's like chemo therapy, they dose you within an inch of your life."

The older woman said, "You were xxx dollars in debt to your credit cards? How STUPID!"

The daughter tried to shush her, but I kind of laughed. What I should have said was, "You're right."

What I said was, "Well, in my defense, Congress changed to laws in 1997 and I suddenly got hit with huge interest increases and late fees and all the rest....

"But, besides, I used the credit cards to survive a huge downturn in sports cards. I can't really say it was the wrong decision, because I paid it off, kept my business, and we're doing fine today.

"But it was tough while it was happening...."

I could tell the older woman wasn't mollified. I was still an idiot.

I hope she watched FRONTLINE last night, because they repeated a show from a few years ago, detailing the absolute outrages of the credit card industry. (Including Congress giving them a blank check around the mid-90's.)

Nothing has changed.

During this episode, my wife wrote the following poem:

Free money! Free money!
Get it while it's hot!
Use it all, lose it all
whether it's 28% or not.
Credit!
What a marvel of modern science
Even Einstein was amazed.
For the few to control the many
we make cash the impossible reliance.
"We only have them for emergencies"
We lie to ourselves, out of control,
we use them on every urgency.

Then panic begins to tighten
with an income change or loss
and the world begins to frighten
with it's minimum wage, high cost.
No full-time, long term security.
Only the American Way.

They're offering another credit card,
let's accept it with alacrity.
Ten is not enough.
Stuff our wallets and our purses
while we're at it folks.
Just pretend we're rich
Never thinking, paybacks a bitch!

Hide our heads in the sand,
don't answer the phone,
it might be another creditor,
another wage slave drone.

If you haven't been trained to plastic,
for your sake, don't start now.
Keep yourself free
of the American Way,
pay cash... and feel fantastic.

Linda McGeary
10/10/98 copyright.

11 comments:

Duncan McGeary said...

Namedropping, eh?

But he's the only other full time novelist beside Dwight Newton who I've really talked with.

Quimby said...

Dunc,

In case your readers missed it last night:

The Frontline program "Secrets of the Credit Card Industry" with correspondent Lowell Bergman (of "The Insider"/CBS/Tobacco fame) is also available to view over the internet .

I discovered this little gem whilst searching for class action participants party to suing the Credit Card industry. My plight? I'm one of those "deadbeats" they spoke of in the program...like Ben Stein, always paying off my cards every month year after year after year....

Their latest trick, move my payment due date up by 6 days to incur a late fee and interest. It's been fixed on a certain date for the last 4 years and they simply change the date, you miss the date change on the invoice, pay it at the normal time and BAMO! They have you for late fees and addl interest. I could care less about the interest rate going up as I always pay off every month. This practice is downright deceptive and criminal.

I was able to negotiate away the late fee, but they wouldn't budge on the interest rate. Cancel the card everyone says...but man, what a freakin' hassle and the next card I get is just as bad I imagine. I think it would be VERY difficult to work / travel / buy stuff online w/o a credit card so I fear we're stuck with these things! Thoughts?

timothy said...

Oh man. I read that book! Wish I had met him.

But I can name drop too.

I met Harlan Ellison (yeah, yeah, who hasn't) and I've EDITED Orson Scott card.

Quimby said...

Wow, my last post got munged up around the href= Here is the actual link to the program on pbs.org:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/credit/

Duncan McGeary said...

timothy,

You edited Orson Scott Card?

Jason said...

Augh! I can't believe you know William Nolan, and I've only just found out!

Duncan McGeary said...

Well, I guess I know him. He comes in the store a couple times a year. He's been living in Bend for the last few years -- but I think he's out of here when he gets that big check from Hollywood.

Dunc

So, I'm usually in the store on Tuesdays and Thursdays all day.

Jason, I'll probably hold off making any changes until the spring breaks are done, so probably a few weeks from now.

Duncan McGeary said...

Quimby,

That's the report I was talking about.

Funny, I'd had no trouble with my credit cards until 1997. It eventually forced us the sell the mall store.

I only found out years later why thing suddenly became more difficult.

I'll never let a card jack rates again without cancelling them; which means, keeping enough money around to pay them off in full.

Bastards.

timothy said...

Oh, also, I hung out with Ken Kesey one New Year's Eve.

And I'll stop now. :-)

Duncan McGeary said...

timothy said...

"Oh, also, I hung out with Ken Kesey one New Year's Eve.

And I'll stop now. :-)"


And you remember it? Are you sure?

Jason said...

Logan's Run is a great book. I don't know how many times I nabbed it from the public library while I was in school. Something about it just never gets old for me.

That last line was not supposed to be a pun, but as always, I'll gladly take credit for it if anyone laughs.

"Jason, I'll probably hold off making any changes until the spring breaks are done, so probably a few weeks from now."

Alright, that sounds good to me.