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people should read the agreements. it's their own fault. Same like with the mortage crisis isn't it? People signed up knowing the rates could change...they took a risk and risks sometimes have unfavorable consequences. I don't use credit cards and have zero debt. There's nothing forcing people to pay for things with money their don't have. We need to pay lawmakers to protect people from their own stupidity?

why do we need lawmakers to spend their time (and our tax dollars) to regulate credit card companies? The terms are stated on the agreement that you sign when you accept to use the card. If people wish to agree to those terms, what business is it of the government to meddle in their affairs?

Why regulate credit card companies? The answer to that depends on what kind of society you want to live in.

Tell you what, listen to this conversation, in which it is demonstrated that Verizon billing personnel, including supervisors, are unable to distinguish 0.002 cents from 0.002 dollars. (There's a 22-minute version out there somewhere which will drive you insane if you listen to it all - no one in billing at Verizon understands 5th-grade math.)

Now, it is easy to listen to these innumerate people, get righteously indignant, and declare 'They deserve whatever happens to them.' (If I'd been the guy with the billing problem, I'd sure feel that way.) In my opinion, that is ultimately a self-defeating attitude. It is a simple fact: there are tens of millions of innumerate, and barely literate people in this society. You can take the view that it is OK to drive them into bankruptcy because, after all, they were the lazy slugs who didn't pay attention in school and offered rationalizations for their behavior like, 'I'll never need to know this crap, why should I learn it?' But what are you going to do about their kids when they've lost their homes? What are you going to do about gigantic financial institutions like Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Lehman Brothers, and Bear-Stearns whose collapse threatens the stability of the world's financial system?

If you haven't the decency to see that allowing the clever to feed upon the stupid is immoral, then perhaps you can acquire the wisdom to see that a system based upon such an attitude is unstable and may well take you down as well.

I forgot the Verizon link.

Hi Tim,

I see that you are saying, but I have a hard time agreeing. If you hold this position, than you can basically argue that the govt should intervene and regulate nearly every aspect of everyone's lives because there are many incompetents in the world. I know a guy who bought a new car and never changed the oil. The engine eventually burned out. So, should we have govt mandated oil changes for fools like that? Some people ignorantly spend their money on clothes, cars and vacations that are beyond their budget. Should we have regulators decide what percentage of our income we can spend on our vehicle to save people from their own poor judgement? Should the govt regulate the way people raise their kids because we all know some people who do a poor job?

You're right, there are plenty of people who are poor at math, but don't we already have credit consultants in the world who they could rely on when making a big decision? I'm poor at tax preparation, so I get outside help. And I wouldn't dream of buying a house without getting some kind of help from a knowledgable friend or professional.

If you don't understand the software license agreement or the credit card terms, don't sign your name until someone explains it to you.

What I don't understand is why did the banks make loans to people who are such a high risk. Seems like the market should be more self-regulating because of the money lenders risk adversion. How did that fail on such a large scale with the subprime crisis? Can someone explain that to me?

Your analogies don't work for me because people do have control over some things (changing oil, buying goods) and do not over others (credit card rates.)

I do think it's really a beautiful thing that you are so trusting of the goodness of mankind but I'm just not that liberal. I've noticed that, given the opportunity, corporations will sometimes act like the Enron executive team. And, where Ebenezer Scrooge might be a hero to a lot of people because he was just practicing a pure form of capitalism, some of us say he is taking advantage of the worker and in a superior society - that doesn't happen.

You say they read their rates when they get the cards - but, for example, what about when their rates go up? (Just happened to my mother who has never missed a payment in her life). Sure, they don't have to stay with the new rates - just pay off the balance right away and you're set. With credit card rates so arbitrary that you can call up your company and ask them to lower their rates and sometimes they'll do it (do they tell you that? - nope, but try it), if you have a higher income you probably have lower rates, if you have a medical emergency which causes you to miss one payment - hey, your rate just might go up --- seems like the rules are a little too soft to feel safe.

And, I don't understand your thinking on what people are buying. You act like people are out there buying Kate Spade purses instead of putting food, gas and medical bills on their credit cards. I'm a contractor which means I don't have steady income and companies pay me the very last day possible - and sometimes, not at all. I know the drill now but, did not when I started and got stiffed for $15K by a start-up who went bellyup - I had a boyfriend to front me some money for my bills (even family would help if necessary) but, I'm lucky. Some people who work just as hard aren't. Or, problems happen like their landlords get foreclosed on and they have to move when they weren't expecting to...

OT but - I also find it interesting how unforgiving people are of normal people's business errors yet will make excuses for a president starting a war with erroneous info and screwing up in a thousand other ways. I think it's because some people love the rich and hate anyone in need. Even if the rich got the money in the most despicable way possible - they are in some way superior - even morally superior. My theory is it's a form of self-loathing...

I have to agree on the textbook issue. What a scam!

With computers, it's so much easier to put out new editions every few years. Add a few bells and whistles - a weblink, CDROM, etc., and poof - a new edition! Along with a change in pages for content so students really need the new edition. This also eliminates the option for used books that can save students $$$$$.

I've tried to keep my books in an OK price range, but the gap in prices is narrow - about $5, so I do pick the book that suits the class the best and not worry about the price, because there's no significant difference.

Sadly, when I've expressed this concern to other professors, I do not get sympathy, I hear "Kids today know how much books cost. You shouldn't be concerned about this." Arrrrgh! Unbelievable. I could NOT have afforded the books of today when I was an undergraduate, even adjusted for the rate of inflation. Fortunately my grad classes used standard books or readers and I didn't have to fork over mega bucks.

Go kids. Do what you have to do to get through college. I used to think textbook scholarships were pathetic until a few years ago. Keep pushing at the companies - buy from England and used as much as possible. Eventually the companies wil bend.

I'm with you. The undergraduate textbook revision cycle - about 3 years - has virtually nothing to do with keeping the book current and everything to do with competing with the used book market. At the graduate level, such short revision cycles are rare even though, from an educational perspective, shorter times between revisions make the most sense for the most advanced material. (In my classes, three years is almost always unnecessary there too, what with review articles, free class handouts, etc.) But, of course, graduate students are more likely to keep their books, the whole market is much smaller, hence the publisher's incentive to retain the current editions in which they've already shelled out most of the publication costs.

Unlike Gypsy Sister here, I'm a thief who's not going to excuse himself in any way shape or form. Mostly I steal what I can't rent or loan.

Not quite sure why everyone are surprised these bastards cost so much... Anyone ever opened The Cell? A ~2000 pages hardcover book and it's all color printed, for roughly 100 bucks. And did I mention you can also get it off the web for free? In fact, you can get just about all the friggin' major textbooks off from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov , all you need to do is have a keen eye and patience.

So if the companies want to throw a wild price for the actual paper book, as far as I'm concerned let them go crazy with it.

(come to think of it, I'm only thinking about Biology books... I'm willing to accept this might not work with other subjects)

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