ATM Fees and “Hallunacy”

by Robert Arvay, Contributing Writer

“Hallunacy” is a word I made up by combining the words, hallucination, and lunacy. Hallunacy is a mindset, a sort of disorder of thinking that ignores reality, and instead substitutes emotion. It dominates the thinking of the left.

Today’s hallunacy involves ATM (automated teller machine) fees.

For those who are too young to remember, there was a time when there were no ATM fees anywhere. That was because there were no ATMs, anywhere. Whenever I wished to make a cash withdrawal from my meager bank account, I had to saddle up my horse (I’m exaggerating, it was not that long ago), go to the bank, and fill out a withdrawal slip. The teller, a real person, would then hand me my cash.

What if the bank was closed? What then? How would I get my money?

The answer is that, unless I could cash a check elsewhere, which was difficult to do, I would have to wait until the bank opened. What if it were a Friday afternoon, and the bank would not open until Monday? What then? Worse yet, what if Monday were a holiday? I would have to wait until Tuesday. What if I would be out of town on Tuesday, and banks in other cities would not honor my local bank account? Oh, the injustice of it all. After all, it was my own money. Why couldn’t I get it? Those were truly dark days.

The only solution was to plan ahead, thereby avoiding the delay in getting my money. What if a sudden emergency arose? Sadly, I simply could not get my money until the bank opened.

Today, we live in the age of ATMs, a convenience which avoids most of the problems we had in the dark ages. These marvels of technology can dispense cash to anyone who is entitled to the money, by reducing one’s bank account by the amount of the withdrawal.

ATMs are available seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, even on weekends and holidays. No longer need we drive to the bank, park the car (or tie the horse), walk inside, fill out a withdrawal slip, and ask the teller for our money, all the while engaging in conversations with other customers and bank employees. Instead, we just put our debit card into the ATM, punch in the amount desired, get our cash, and be on our way.

Wait. What if you cannot conveniently get to your own bank’s ATM? Are you out of luck? Will the ATMs of other banks get snippy with you, and say, “If you don’t have an account with us, you cannot get money from us?” No. Their ATM will get snippy with you by telling you that in order to get your money from their money, you have to pay a fee, which will be charged to your account at your own bank.

How unfair! It’s my money. Mine. Why should I have to pay the Bank of Elsewhere for my own money?

As we said, when we use another bank’s ATM, we are withdrawing money from their money. We are using a machine that they paid for and installed, and maintain, and insure (or accept the risk). Why should the Bank of Elsewhere provide us this service for free?

According to those afflicted by hallunacy, the Bank of Elsewhere should be required to provide us this service, if not for free, then at least for a fee that we, not they, can set. After all, it’s my money. Why can’t you understand that? Give me my money.

Bernie Sanders, Socialist candidate for the Democrat nomination (don’t try to make sense of that, I can’t either), is campaigning on the principle that ATM fees should be capped at two dollars. He arrived at that figure by carefully calculating the costs, risks, and economic factors involved, then ignoring all that and plugging in the number, two.

A few years ago, this issue became news in California. As I recall, when confronted with the prospect that the government would set ATM fees, the banks announced their plan: simply not to provide ATMs. The government quickly backed off.

Hallunacy prevents those who practice it from understanding the basic idea that, if people dislike their bank’s policies, they can change banks. If people dislike their bank’s ATM policies, they can saddle up their horse . . .

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