29.5.03

NAROD'NIY BANK? Cal Pundit praises Santa Monica's failed attempt to abolish interchange fees at automatic cash dispensers: "But still, you have to admire the populist cred of cities like Santa Monica that are willing to go all the way to the Supreme Court to try to get banks to lower ATM fees.

So two cheers for them, even if it was a dumb idea
." Pah. Automatic cash dispensers are now available for installation in your convenience store, casino, city hall, or library. They're no longer bundled to banks. Had Santa Monica really been serious about abolishing fees, their city council could have appropriated some money, purchased some cash dispensers, and set them up in convenient locations. Hiram Johnson would have understood, as would Bob LaFollette. The Wisconsin State Life Insurance Fund continues to offer life insurance policies to Badger State residents in competition with the commercial providers.

The operators of cash dispensers have not covered themselves with glory in all this, as I once observed to a bank vice-president I know. When the cash dispensers came out, there were no service charges, and no penalty for using a machine at an untied bank. The service charges came later. It is easier to lower prices than to raise them.

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