Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Shelf Life

I actively try to make the cost of bad business practices higher. I take note when a company like Bank of America has its way with our regulatory authorities, as they recently did. So, anything that helps Bank of America will be something I actively avoid in my daily transactions. I avoid Exxon and BP... because, well, those are pretty obvious. I will probably do this forever no matter what happens between now and forever.

If I tell others about bad business practices then they too just might avoid the companies. In that spirit I relate the following:

I recently received a American Express card gift card worth a certain amount of money. Way back in the past, I remember a bad experience concerning credit card gift cards of any company. Their bonus is that they can be used anywhere that the card is accepted. The negative is that, (well this was true years ago when last they gipped me) a person cannot buy something worth more than the card in a transaction. At least years ago, this was true, and I  had this problem and said to myself "never again will this happen." The problem at the time was that there were a few bucks remaining on the card. Nothing I wanted to purchase was just a few bucks. I think I might have bought a few candy bars I didn't need or something but even after this, there was a balance of some odd cents. What a pain that the company was going to be rewarded with a few cents for making life difficult for me.

So I decided on a solution to the problem. I could buy a Walmart gift card for the exact amount which had only the limitation that I had to use it at Walmart. (Walmart was still in good graces then, not anymore.) I remember being screwed a second time when I could not buy a Walmart gift card for less than 5 dollars or for an odd amount or whatever was left on my credit card gift card. Therefore, the answer was to buy a gift card of some company immediately upon receipt of the evil credit card gift card. This worked. I have been doing it ever since.

I have no idea whether credit card gift cards have changed. They might be wonderful now but... I have now put in place my system that works. Bitten once or twice and I put plan B into effect and it works every time.

Recently, as I said, I received a gift card that was an American Express gift card. In fact I chose it over others. It was a reward and I had other options. I did not think much of the other options so I chose this credit card gift card. Immediately upon receipt, I went to Amazon online, purchased a email gift card which I then turned around and put upon my Amazon account. Why does Amazon get my money rather than another company? Good business practices. Amazon's gift cards never expire. They add the money to an account that I can see very clearly anytime I wish to look and I do not have to carry the card around with the risk of losing it. Simple transaction. Good transaction.

Perhaps the motivation for American Express in offering gift cards is that they earn interest on money while it is unspent and they rack up if a card goes missing and expires. They also make that bit of money that is left over that caused me to abandon them in the beginning.Well, now Amazon makes the interest and I will be encouraged to use that money in their store in the future, even for a partial payment.

Bad business practices should have a long shelf. We should remember when we have been wronged and shift our business accordingly.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Contemplating Religion in Government

From Freethinkers by Susan Jacoby: '...when conservatives were insisting that the as yet unratified Constitution should include a religious test for public office, Bentley asked, "But what security is it to a government that every public officer shall swear that  he is a christian? ... One man will declare that the Xtian religion is only an illumination of natural religion ... another Christian will assert that all men must be happy thereafter in spite of themselves; a third Christian reverses the image, and declares that let a man do all he can, he will certainly be punished in another world ... That man who acts an honest part toward his neighbour, will most probably conduct honorably toward the public." - William Bentley, The Diary of William Bentley. '

My commment: The point to William Bentley, I guess, was that a religious test for office would  do no good because of the range of religious thought in his time. Indeed, in our time, just ponder the idea of giving to the poor or even being generous. It is just not a priority to those who would have Christianity run the nation. There seems not even the simplest concept in the Bible, which surely everyone who read it would say was basic and intrinsic, that is followed by every person calling themselves a Christian. Following the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" would effectively bring our country to its knees in the face of terrorism in the minds of many who would, although,  still call themselves Christians despite the startling contradictions of the death penalty or drone strikes.

From the Constitution of the United States: "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."