October 5, 2009
“There comes a time when a person must be willing sacrifice in order to defend what’s right. And if I’m successful, this will be the proverbial first shot fired in an American Debtor’s Revolution…”
Ann Miche posted a video message last week to officially inform Ken Lay that she was staging a Debtor’s Revolt – she was refusing to continue paying off her BofA credit card. While drawing attention to an unfair interest rate hike to 30% APR, she outlined her spotless 14 year history with the company and defended her ability to live within her budget despite being laid off. For Miche, the interest rate hike by the bank was an unjustified attempt to recoup losses on the backs of the middle class. “Had you left well enough alone, I would have continued to make my payments in good faith,” announced Miche, “but no, you had to bend me over for no other reason than papering over your mega-screw up.” The call to ‘civil disobedience’ against ‘evil thieving bastard’ was extended to other debtors. The video went viral. Soon Miche was appearing on Fox and Friends, and a representative from Bof A was calling to renegotiate her rate.
The most interesting part of Miche’s argument is as follows: “You can send all the collections agencies after me that you want. You can call me 50 times a day if you want. I don’t own any real estate. I don’t own any assets. I don’t even have a permanent job right now. And even if I did, you ‘d have to get a court order to garnish my wages. And considering how many people are defaulting on your credit card accounts right now, the civil courts are going to be backed up for years. YEARS! You can ruin my credit. But the banks are loaning money anyway. So the way I figure it, Mr. Lay, I’ve got nothing to lose. So stick that in your bailout plan and smoke it.”
Miche’s statement draws attention to the delicate, relational nature of credit. Credit is a social contract that must be configured and re-configured to keep both parties actively involved. It is a loss of elasticity in this relationship, in favor of rigid statistical forecast and prediction, that belies the current credit crisis. The youtube address which invokes the return phone call by the BofA representative re-infuses Miche’s relationship with BofA with the responsive flexibility that is essential to conserving the credit contract.
The sacrifice involved in revolting, which Miche notes to her fellow debtors, is a good indication of the rigid nail that has been holding the credit contract together in recent years: “You will have to search your own sole to know if you are willing to take a stand and be willing to sacrifice your credit score to stop this outright financial rape.” As she points out, once consumers no longer feel compelled to hammer that nail, the current contract will begin to fall apart.