"Dear Cardholder," the letter from the Visa Card Department of Suburban Trust Co. said. "You are aware of the impact of rising costs in our economy . . . The Increasingly high cost of money, double digit inflation, and the cost of complying with additional government regulations have made it necessary for us to institute an annual membership fee of $15."
Dear Suburban Trust: I have noted your decision to begin charging $15 a year for Visa. You will no doubt raise this fee periodically to whatever level you think the traffic will bear.
Pleas be advised that I have never paid for a charge card and do not intend to begin now.
I have carried four cards: Master Charge, Visa, Central Charge and Washington Shopping Plate. All permit me to buy from shopkeepers who do not know me. That's my only reason for using the cards: identification. The store that is not willing to accept my check pays a percentage of its profit to a company that is willing to.
Now that you have begun charging a $15 fee, I have stopped using Visa. When Master Charge follows your lead, I will stop using that, too.
This decision is not based on whim, dear Visa. It was a carefully thought out as your decision to try to squeeze out extra millions in profits.
Tell your computer that "the increasingly high cost of money" has for weeks been diminishing spectacularly. However, inflationary pressures are indeed still with us, just as you said, and the cost of credit is certainly one of the greatest of those pressures.
To reduce the cost of credit, it is my patriotic duty to inform you that I will not pay 15 cents a year for your "membership," let alone $15. If you like, I will be happy to mail your card back to you in two pieces. You can stick one piece in each ear.
I have make three photostats of this letter and will have them ready for distribution to Master Charge, Central Charge and Washington Shopping Plate whenever they, too, try to levy an annual fee for their cards.
Goodby, dear Visa. If the only word you recogonized in this commercial was "No," you got the message. THESE MODERN TIMES
The headline of Sandra G. Boodman's article was "What Makes Johnny Steal in Suburbia?"
Boodman told us that in two short years, juvenile arrests for larceny and theft increased 44 percent in Northern Virginia. Arrests for burglary increased 80 percent -- "an increase authorities attribute in part to major overhaul of the state's juvenile code."
When parents are preoccupied with other matters, children become bored. Crime seems exciting. It's "something to do," and the miscreant knows he will not be punished. His cloak of immunity is, "You can't do nothin' to me. I'm a juvenile."
Our system of juvenile courts and the "youth corrections" syndrome that extends similar protection to bearded adults was "an experiment, noble in purpose" that was a disastrous failure from its inception.
It deals with crimes in such secrecy that an editor risks punishment for identifying even a notorious murderer whose identity is know to an entire neighborhood. The public doesn't know who has been arrested, or for what. The Constitution guarantees an accused person a public trial, but juveniles are tried in secret. Repeatedly.
We know that many juvenile offenders are repeaters. But we do not know how many is "many." Perhaps 40 percent, perhaps not. The figures, like the trials, are secret. But today's kids aren't dummies. They got the message quickly. Nothing happens to juveniles for at least the first six or eight times they're caught, so why worry?
Our juvenile court system should have been drastically altered decades ago, when it first became evident we were nuturing a generation of maladjusted children.
For example, there was obvious need for several sets of rules for youths. You can't deal with a young adult as you do with a naughty 6-year-old. Scientists are best equipped to divide young people into maturity groupings, but for the purpose of illustration we might have one set of rules and punishments for children under 8, another set for those between 8 and 12, another for those between 12 and 15, and a final set for those between 15 and 18, or 15 and 19.
At some point under 21, they begin to drive cars and drink and smoke and use drugs and have children and fight wars. When they are old enough to do these things, they are old enough to obey adult rules and be judged by adult standards. It is utter folly to deal with a 195-pound repeat offender as one would with a 7-year old caught stealing cookies.
He who has been bludgeoned or stabbed has suffered damage that is unrelated to his assailant's size or age.
People who are old enough to be thugs are old enough to be punished.
Any law that permits a pattern of crimainal activity to be kept secret and go unpunished is a national disgrace.