AMONG THE charges the SEC made against Bert Lance was that he was involved in a series of banking and securities violations jeopardizing a Georgia bank he headed. Mr. Lance, the federal complaint charged, authorized and prolonged overdrafts to his family to the tune of $800,000 - 70 percent of all the overdrafts at his bank.
If these charges are true, there must have been some funny conversations at the dinner table in Mr. Lnace's palatial dining room in Calhoun at the time. I wasn't there, so I'm just imagining how one went.
David, the Lance's teen-age son: "Hey Dad, my savings account has been overdrawn by $11,000. I only wrote one check this month for a frisbee that cost $1.50."
"Shut up and drink your Coca-Cola," Bert says.
"But gosh, Dad, there must be a mistake at the bank."
"There was no mistake at the bank. I had to write a check for your Uncle Clyde, who owned the First National Bank of Flatire, $11,000 in interest for a loan we got from them to pay for some work in our farm."
"Why is Uncle Clyde paying for work done on our farm?"
"Because I didn't want to write any more checks on your mother's account. She has an overdraft of $110,000 and most of that went to the Coyote Savings Banks, which gave us the money to pay the interest on the loan we obtained from the Catfish Trust Company."
LaBelle says, "Bert, I don't mind having overdrafts on the bank, but do they have to send me nasty notes saying I was getting to be a bad risk? It makes me nervous."
"Don't pay attention to the notices, LaBelle. They're just for the files in case the comptroller starts messing around."
"How much overdraft do I have?" Beverly, the Lance's other teen-ager asks.
"Just $10,000" Bert replies.
"That's not fair, David always gets a bigger overdraft than I do."
"David's older. He's entitled to owe the bank more than you."
"Ha, ha, ha," David says. "I'm overdrafted $1,000 more than you."
"Stop it, children," LaBelle says. "I'm sure when you get to be 18, Beverly, you'll be in as much debt as your brother."
"Maybe more," Bert says.
"I want to know what you did with my overdraft, Daddy?"
"I used it to cut down on the overdraft of Uncle Billy. He was complaining that he couldn't get an American Express Credit card because he was so much in hock to our bank."
"Aunt Martha called," David says. "She wanted to know if she could write a check for $7,000 to buy a new car. She said she only has $49 in her account."
"Sure, call her back and say it's fine. On second thoughts I better call her. She may be surprised when she gets a statement that she has an overdraft of $20,000 next month."
"What for?" LaBelle asks.
"I had to start paying on the principal of the money we borrowed from the General Lee Savings and Loan Association, which I needed to cover the loan Grandma Harkins made on the Okra State Federal Insurance Company, which guaranteed Cousin Efrom's interest payments from the Penant Association Credit Union. Can't we have a dinner without just talking about business?"
"Dad, can I have $5 to take my girl to the movies tonight?" David asks.
"I gave you $5 last Friday. Can't you people learn that money doesn't grow on trees?"