The banks have [driven] up overdraft charges to an average of $34 per incident, removing caps on the number of charges that may be incurred in one day and charging additional fees to accounts that remain overdrawn for several days. In general, cardholders are not notified that they have been charged $34 each for purchases as innocuous as a cup of coffee, a bottle of aspirin or a magazine until it is too late. . .But isn't borrowing above ones means exactly what Times editors condemned? Do they read their own paper? Or know how to Google?
American families now spend more on overdraft fees every year than on books, breakfast cereal or fresh vegetables and only slightly less than they spend on major appliances.
The charges are especially onerous for students, who practically live on debit cards, and for Social Security recipients, who can unknowingly eat up their meager incomes buying food, medication and other essentials.
Naturally, the NYT's solution is more regulation, specifically championing H.R. 3639, introduced last month. But a law setting standards for such practices, P.L. 111-24, was just enacted on May 22nd -- it already is operative in part, with all remaining provisions effective by February 2010. If financial stability is the goal, how can ever-changing rules contribute? That's an issue the Times avoids.
For the New York Times, business eternally is blamed, more oversight always obligatory, and personal responsibility never required. Even at the expense of internal and legal consistency.