The worst part of the Bert Lance hearings as far as I was concerned had to do with the overdrafts of his wife, himself and their relatives at the Calhoun National Bank.
Whether Mr. Lance is innocent or guilty of any of the allegations made against him, he has admitted that he and his family dealt heavily in overdrafts and wrote checks for which there were no funds at the moment to cover them.
President Carter, in defending his good friend, said he didn't see anything wrong in overdrafts and many people do it. The point then is, if the President of the United States doesn't see anything wrong in them and the head of the Office of Management and Budget obviously doesn't, how can the average husband (this is a male chauvinist column, if anyone is checks stamped 'insufficient funds,' its books straight."
just the other day we got a notice from the bank informing my wife that she had written $450 in checks for which there was no money in the account to cover them.
I asked her about it.
"Oh", she said sweetly, having watched the hearings for three days, "that was just and overdraft."
"You may call it an overdraft, but some people might say you've been writing bum checks."
"I don't see why the bank is so excited. LaBelle Lance had overdrafts of over $140,000 and no one bothered her."
"LaBelle's husband was president of the bank. She was entitled to write checks stamped 'insufficent funds,' but our bank gets very angry when we do it."
"I don't see why our bank should get angry about a $450 overdraft when Bert Lance's bank found them perfectly respectable."
"Because," I said, "if you paid close attention during the hearings, Mr. Lance said every bank treats overdrafts in a different manner. Some banks hate them and other banks encourage them. Our bank likes to keep its book straight."
"Well then, i think we ought to move our account to the Calhoun National Bank. If they like overdrafts, then I'm a perfect customer."
"It won't do any good because the Calhoun National Bank has agreed with the Comptroller's office that they won't permit overdrafts any more."
"Why not?" my wife wanted to know.
"Because it's a bad banking practice. If you permit people to write out checks for money they don't have, it screws up the computers, They don't know where they're at."
"I think that's terribly unfair. It seems to me a bank should pay on the checks you write whether there is money in you account or not. After all, we'll cover them one way or another. Won't we?"
"Possibly. But the point is that if all Americans started writing checks with insufficient funds, it would make people very sloppy about their finances and could turn us into a nation of check kiters."
"Bert Lance doesn't feel that way, and he was a banker. I'll bet he never yelled at his wife when he got her statement from the Calhoun National Bank."
"We don't know that. He could have been very angry with her for having a $140,000 overdraft. I know if it were me I'd be furious with LaBelle."
"Well, i think he's a wonderful man and I'll bet he never said a word to her. If she had to write a check for $140,000 and she didn't have the money in the bank, she must have had a very good reason."
"What on earth would she have to write a bum $140,000 check for?" I asked.
"You obviously haven't been to Bloomingdale's lately."