'A blog in support of stupid people's rights (probably the most important...)' blog

This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.




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  • tagq2
    tagq2 Posts: 382 Forumite
    "Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has not heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains."

    It's the other way round, of course. The idea that a man is or could strive to be a perfectly rational, informed being voluntarily interacting with his peers is as foolishly romantic as the notion that an angel without eyes can strive to see if only he would imagine hard enough. The brain is just as programmable and just as prone to fault as any other machine, biological or man-made, and 18th century fantasies about ideal agents in the marketplace need to be set aside in favour of a scientific understanding of man. This ultimately means recognising that the various forms of innate intelligence required to survive in the modern world are no more earned than the two legs we most of us were fortunate to start life with.

    Of course, for someone to accept that they're not just doing better "because everyone else is lazy and/or wilfully ignorant" is both a blow to the ego and an invitation to a more level playing field - and that's threatening. But, to borrow an edict from that boy-philosopher prodigy, it's a magical world. Rather than resting safe on our laurels, let's go exploring.
  • Dave_C_2
    Dave_C_2 Posts: 1,827 Forumite
    edited 21 October 2011 at 1:09PM
    If a man in the street tried to extract money from a financial institution by deception, it would be classed as fraud and he would be breaking the law. In some cases this can lead to time behind bars.

    Surely the reverse must be true, when a financial institution is using deception to extract money from the man in the street. But somehow this is OK?

    So I am in agreement with Martin
  • JimmyTheWig
    JimmyTheWig Posts: 12,199
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    I simply don’t get the venom of some who aren’t caught out towards those who have been.
    I believe, Martin, that it's selfishness.

    RyanAir, for example, can afford to offer flights for £1 because they know that most people who are drawn in by this offer will pay many times this in charges. Some of those able to avoid the extra charges are glad that others pay the charges because this is the very reason they can get their £1 flights.
    Likewise, credit card companies only offer 0% deals to make money out of people. Those of us who are able to benefit from this are offset by others who cannot.

    If everyone was savvy, the currently savvy would lose their edge. I would be happy for this to happen in the name of the greater good. But others wouldn't.
  • JimmyTheWig
    JimmyTheWig Posts: 12,199
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    By the way, Martin, have you really never been in debt? Or is it that you've never been in bad debt?
    Did you make do with no student debts? [You only went through the system a few years before me, and I didn't know anyone who wasn't in debt.] Did you never have a mortgage (greater than your savings)?
  • dtsazza
    dtsazza Posts: 6,295 Forumite
    Dave_C wrote: »
    If a man in the street tried to extract money from a financial institution by deception, it would be classed as fraud and he would be breaking the law. In some cases this can lead to time behind bars.

    Surely the reverse must be true, when a financial institution is using deception to extract money from the man in the street. But somehow this is OK?
    That's what this issue boils down to - I don't agree that it's deception.

    The terms are laid out in front of you, stating what the institution is proposing to do. If you sign a document, to agree to be bound by something without knowing or understanding what you've just signed up for - well, I just can't see an excuse for that.

    Or rather, I'm sure there are lots of excuses, but it comes down to taking responsibility for your own actions. It's my view that trying to wrap the whole world in cotton wool, so that people are now told that coffee is hot, is both incredibly wasteful and condescending, and gets in the way of the crux of humanity: actions leading to consequences.

    If you don't understand the terms of what you're signing up for, or you can't be bothered to read them, don't sign it until you do. And if you choose to do it anyway, you can't expect to have any recourse if they differ from what you assumed they'd be.
  • dtsazza
    dtsazza Posts: 6,295 Forumite
    Dave_C wrote: »
    If a man in the street tried to extract money from a financial institution by deception, it would be classed as fraud and he would be breaking the law. In some cases this can lead to time behind bars.
    Adapting your metaphor, it's more like a man on the street trying to profit from a financial institution by offering them a bespoke financial contract. He might, for example, ring up and propose that his mortgage repayments are switched to a spread above RPI. Or that it's effectively coupled with an FX rate swap - so he can pay back in euros (say, due to obtaining most of his income from the eurozone and wanting to hedge the currency risk).

    The point is, he draws up a proposal and puts it in front of the bank. They may accept this offered contract or decline it - but the man certainly wouldn't go to jail for proposing a contract that involved the exchange of money. (In reality of course, the bank almost certainly wouldn't be set up to deal with these types of offers, so would reject them unless the amounts involves justified some manual processing work. But it doesn't affect the legality or morality of the situation).


    And the reality is the same, but in the different direction. The banks create a proposal of a financial transaction, and you accept it or decline it based on whether it's beneficial to you. Also not illegal/immoral.
  • JimmyTheWig
    JimmyTheWig Posts: 12,199
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    dtsazza wrote: »
    If you don't understand the terms of what you're signing up for, or you can't be bothered to read them, don't sign it until you do. And if you choose to do it anyway, you can't expect to have any recourse if they differ from what you assumed they'd be.
    But sometimes this really isn't practical, is it?

    For example, I often get updates for Adobe Reader pop up on my computer. Every time I have to tick the box to say I understand the terms and conditions.
    I trust them and so tick the box.

    Are you really saying that you read _every_ term and condition of _everything_ that you sign up for?
  • Mandelbrot
    Mandelbrot Posts: 9,139
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    By the way, Martin, have you really never been in debt? Or is it that you've never been in bad debt?
    Did you make do with no student debts? [You only went through the system a few years before me, and I didn't know anyone who wasn't in debt.] Did you never have a mortgage (greater than your savings)?

    Yes, I didn't believe that bit in his blog either. ;)
    Even if he had savings that were greater than his mortgage, he would still technically have a debt.
    No credit card, Martin? Even if you pay it off completely each month, you still have a debt until then.
  • tagq2
    tagq2 Posts: 382 Forumite
    edited 21 October 2011 at 2:06PM
    Are you really saying that you read _every_ term and condition of _everything_ that you sign up for?
    A more revealing question might be, "Do you read and fully understand..." and the answer would of course be "no". You can have a layperson's approximation of an understanding of what a term means, assuming your intelligence and knowledge are sufficient to parse each often horribly-worded term. Even a lawyer's understanding will be the result of questionable interpretation. Even a court's will be, one of the main reasons we have an appeals system.

    But even if we assume for a moment that every man understands the short and medium term consequences to himself of all his actions (and we're already way into fantasy here), so what? A market as a whole is unsustainable if it's based on the notion of buyer beware: 2008 came from a decade of smart people becoming fabulously wealthy by persuading less smart people to put money where they cannot afford to put money.
  • JimmyTheWig
    JimmyTheWig Posts: 12,199
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    dtsazza wrote: »
    Adapting your metaphor, it's more like a man on the street trying to profit from a financial institution by offering them a bespoke financial contract.
    No, it's not.

    The difference is implied trust.

    The bank would not automatically trust the customer (as you go on to imply) and wouldn't take up the offer without going through it with a fine tooth comb.
    In many cases (particularly with the elderly) the customer trusts the bank and accepts the contract offered to them.

    It would be more like a teacher sitting down at the lunch table and offering to swap 1000 picolitres of their milk for 4 gills worth of a child's milk (like happened with the students in a Simpsons episode). You would expect the teacher to offer a fair trade rather than trying to get the better of the child.
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