It's a very specific concept from the United States Constitution that relates to the government forcing you to refrain from saying things that you want to say. Freedom of speech is the kind of thing that comes up when a government agency puts warning labels on record albums, news media are prevented from reporting on government activities, or butthurt lawyers (cough cough Charles Carreon) try to use the courts to prevent people from criticizing their clients.
The blogger in question felt that the word "badassity" was an essential element of his brand, and that to change his header would dilute his brand in some way. He made a calculated decision that appeasing Chase would negatively affect his brand, perhaps even resulting in a reduction to his overall income in the long run, either directly or indirectly. A post like this one reinforces his brand as a blog with "integrity," and an attitude, and is sure to help offset whatever immediate loss he sees from Chase withdrawing their support.
While he's clearly a skilled and savvy blogger, I really don't see this as a free speech issue. A more accurate title would be "I Just Gave Up $4000 Per Month to Preserve My Brand Integrity."
This is completely incorrect, and it's a little insulting to the users here who aren't American.
Freedom of speech is a value with broad applicability. The United States Constitution enshrines a right to free speech as a limitation of government power, fine, but they don't have a monopoly on the idea. Relative freedom of speech is a characteristic of every forum in which speech and the suppression of speech are possible.
Banning users of a forum limits freedom of speech, removing commentary that goes off-topic limits freedom of speech. Forums are often quite free to set their own rules about who is allowed to say what, and users are often free to choose the forums they frequent, but that's mostly beside the point - speech within any particular forum is free to a given extent, and some people (be they owners, operators, users, whatever) believe that this freedom is intrinsically valuable.
(I don't really see this one as a free speech issue myself - to me, this one is about the credit card company preserving their brand integrity.)
However, the point of the comment you're replying to still stands. If I merely say "We will only maintain a business relationship if you stop saying X, Y, and Z," then turning down that business relationship is not a free-speech issue. My sending you money to change the way you speak is not an abridgement of your freedom of speech, because accepting it is purely voluntary. It might be a matter of "selling out" but it's not a matter of "freedom of speech."
Cf. the FunnyJunk/Oatmeal debacle happening right now, where there was a tangible legal threat: "Take down your blog post or I will sue the crap out of you. Oh, and pay me thousands of dollars."
I think if there's any problem here it was with the way it was put. I don't think anyone would have had a problem if Chase had said, "We're terminating our relationship with you because of your blog's content," but the idea of them suggesting he change to maintain the relationship seems to have struck a chord. Perhaps it would have been better to leave that possibility implicit, but... The more I think about it, the more I think this blogger is drumming the issue up to generate traffic to make up for his loss of revenue.
Consider the jewellery chain in the UK that sold cheap junk. Customers knew it, and the company knew, but everything was profitable until the CEO explicitly said the wares were junk. Then the sales went into free-fall.
He was not forced to do anything - he was given a choice: either we continue to pay you, and you abridge one line that we don't like being associated with our product, or you keep on saying whatever you wish and we have no requirement to pay you.
Both parties are free to set any terms (as allowed by law) on the deal which both will agree to. If both don't agree to the terms, you have a standard failure to negotiate a deal. If one does something in the future which causes distress to the other party, the other party can certainly demand redress. If the party which caused the issue refuses this, why should they be forced to submit to his whims with no freedom of their own? And what does that have to do with freedom of speech? He's still saying what he wanted to say, is he not?
By that standard, nothing short of cutting your tongue off would be an infringement of your freedom of speech. Under the Sedition Act of 1918, nobody was "forced" to do anything; they were just imprisoned if they said bad things about the government.
I was tempted to not reply since the comment was being downvoted, but clearly you've garnered some support for your argument giving the people the running the credit card company the right to choose whom they pay for what services and why is equivalent to incarcerating people for speaking their minds.
The argument you're making here, is that every company must -pay- people for exercising their free speech, even when it harms the company. By your argument, it's a violation of a person's free speech for a company to fire its spokesman after they go off on a racist rant on-air, and that marketing firms should be paid by their clients even if they chose to make an ad which disparages them?
Since when does your right to free speech take away my right to association?
There is brand integrity there, but I think there is also personal integrity and resolve.
Freedom is about what the less powerful can do even when opposed by the more powerful. Money is one of the rawest forms of power in the modern world, and so if someone threatens to decrease your income significantly unless you change what you say, they are unambiguously flexing their power at you and impinging on your freedom of speech.
1. There is a difference between not buying and demanding change. If I demand that you stop selling obscene t-shirts, or threaten to stop buying any of your t-shirts, I'm infringing your freedom of speech.
2. I don't see where anybody said that Citi shouldn't be allowed to do what they did. But that doesn't change it from being a form of censorship.
The fact that the blogger is continuing to blog as he sees fit counters any objectively verifiable assertion that censorship was involved.
I believe the term censorship is best left for those situation when a state agency (which one might be able to argue many large banks are anymore) demands changes or cessation of communication under pain (or threat) of fine, imprisonment, or death.
We are reading about this here on hacker news because he's being promoted here to compensate for that lost money.
That's wonderful. Whoever posted this, thanks for wasting my time. If it was the author, you truly need to get a degree in management because you're adept at wasting technical people's time.
At the same time, the fundamental concept in "freedom of speech", "artistic freedom", and "editorial independence" seems to be the same: the ability to express what you want to express without pressure from an external authority. Of course, coercion from a government creates much greater pressure than insistence from a boss or an advertiser.
But what if he had decided to change the banner, and give the money away to a charity instead?
Money is a tool you can use for good. If you are blessed with the kind of extra money he was suddenly given, you can use it to do good with.
Obviously it's all his choice, but making a big show of "freedom of speech" feels a little disingenuous. No government is trying to censor him; nobody is taking away his freedom; this is just a business negotiation. At no point was his freedom of speech ever threatened in the slightest.
The charity argument is unfair -- most people and businesses could give more money to charity if they live "comfortably". The manner in which he gives back to the community is purely for him to decide. In this situation it's not a free trade either as he needs to give up something quite important to him (censorship) to receive the money. He'd be endorsing a product or service that he doesn't believe in and changing the content of his product or site to fit with it.
Of course it's a free trade. He would be trading his banner for the money Chase would pay him. He's free to do that, or free to not change his banner and not take any more money, which he did. That's the whole definition of "free" in "free trade" -- he gets to choose. And that's why there's no censorship here, because there's no coercion.
It's no different from advertisers pulling ads (rightly) from Rush Limbaugh's show after he says something offensive. I never heard anybody calling that censorship. It wouldn't be even if they warned him in advance (which is what Chase did).
Maybe not disingenuous (which implies some degree of pretense), but certainly inaccurate. People like to use the phrase "freedom of speech" because it has propaganda value in most Western cultures. To paraphrase one legal scholar, the first lawyer to yell "freedom of speech!" in a crowded courtroom wins.
Would you accept the offer? It wouldn't take much effort and you could donate the money to charity, after all.
The "Freedom of Speech" thing comes from several other posts. The remaining context gives you a lot of info. He's 'free' to say whatever he wants because he lives within what his investments are producing. It's a higher form of freedom to be able to turn down $4000/mo.
MMM is semi-retired. Reaching and keeping that situation takes commitment, diligent work and cooperation. His site exists to share his methods for succeeding. That includes using existing financial tools to meet individual financial goals.
Credit cards are a great utility for many people, a life-saver for some during brief periods of need, and an enabler of long-term bad decision making habits for many others. MMM is squarely in the first cohort. Furthermore he advocates for and educates people in the prudent selection and use of credit cards. His list of offers was ranked by his review of the credit cards, not their referral deals. There is nothing untoward about that.
What does it tell us about his impenetrable integrity when his recommendations are predicated on the recommended product paying him? Surely Chase can't keep him from recommending the card - that would indeed be a free speech issue.
And no, it's not a principled stand against Chase: "We’ll see if we can find a less fearful company (or Chase rep) to step back up to the plate eventually."
Also, is this really an issue of freedom of speech? Seems a little melodramatic to me.
I had the same thought. It seemed to me like the author was trying to make his position far more noble than what it really is. The whole thing boils down to "Look at me, I just turned down $50K so that I could still say 'fuck'".
Mz bookmarks article to try to figure out if she can sell her soul for $4k/month at some future date.
That's certainly a valid choice; some people prioritize "integrity of that sort" over money.
* Really, all three of us have gotten well at my expense.
'I just turned down $4k because I dont need it and like to say 4 letter words'
>If this blog were the only thing between my family and a homeless shelter, I’d surely be a banner-changin’, credit-card-hustlin’ fool. Just as the indebted office worker faced with an abusive manager will bow down and do the shitty work, year-in and year-out.
The whole point of his blog is financial freedom. How to make enough money that you don't have to live like that.
The overall concept and goal of the site is great, financial freedom is an excellent thing. The tone I perceived from this singular post just wasn't as noble as others have received it as. More power to the guy for being able set standards for his content and not let financial incentives affect them.
Eg, his monthly income is reduced from $6000 to $2000, but he only spends $2000, it may be a reduction of 66% but he can still live with the decision.
Compare that with someone that makes $20k a month and spends $20k a month - $4k a month is a small amount of money, but he can't give it up.
If you pay off your debts without paying any interest all the time, you're pretty much a terrible person to lend money to.
The credit card companies also rely on the fact that however organised people thing they are going to be, a good amount of them slip up. Once they have credit, maybe they dip into it, then can't repay it all, or they miss the interest free deadline etc.
Please stay away from credit cards everyone :)
Another anecdote: I have three credit cards that I use for various things (recurring payments, real-life purchases, online purchases) and I pay them in full every month. I have a very high credit score. The credit card issuers are making plenty of money off of me; they get 4% of everything I buy.
(Why do I use credit cards? One, convenience. Two, it's an abstraction layer over my own money. If someone mistakenly charges my credit card, they've stolen the bank's money, which the bank will really want to get back. If someone mistakenly debits my checking account, well, so much for paying rent this month...)
This is differentiated quite effectively from what makes a "profitable" customer. Which, I think has something to do with what the OP was alluding to... Generally, a profitable customer doesn't pay the full balance off every month, and is slightly late once in a while. A profitable customer may have a low likelihood of repaying a debt, and the risk may outweigh any potential profit.
Notably, if you're low-risk, you'll find it much easier to be extended credit up and to certain amounts, even if your behavior does not appear to be particularly profitable.
That being said, when you specifically request that someone offer you credit, you increase the potential risk to the next lender. Which is why most of the credit card arbitrage plans require you to make massive bursts of applications at once, and then back off for a while - gaming the fact that it takes time for each lender to report its data back to the clearing houses.
However credit cart companies do like you better if you are the type to 'slip up', mortgage lenders not so much.
OR I'm not in the US. Other countries exist. I'd be surprised if credit companies even in the US don't share the information on "low or no profit users" - ones who religiously pay off loans without paying any interest.
In Canada (home) and the U.S. (current legal alien), there are things called credit reporting agencies (different per country; names like Trans Union, Equifax, Experien). A surprising array of businesses, including e.g. lenders, utilities companies, etc, buy reports from these credit reporting agencies, and also report to them on your behaviour. As far as I know this reporting on you is completely voluntary for these companies (maybe it gets them a price break on the reports they buy, but I think I heard once at an old job that they actually PAY to make reports), but it makes sense in terms of their self-interest, because it disincents their customers from cheating them. Plus, revenge may or may not be game-theoretically advantageous, but you should see how personal accounts-receivable clerks take it when you don't pay.
As mentioned, the reporting agencies will generate reports on you. You can get these for free for yourself (or for a fee if you want convenience). Companies can also request these on you, I believe only with your permission (which of course would be very easy to forge). If you've never seen your own report, you should find the agencies in your jurisdiction, figure out if you're entitled to a free report, and jump through the hoops just to see what it says about you.
The report includes lots of stalkery facts about you, like your residence history, everyone who reported that you paid bills to them, and so on. It'll probably be only mostly-accurate. For example, I've lived in ten places in the last 15 years, and only about half of them are on my credit report. Also, phone numbers I hadn't used in 5 years were still listed as being mine, but being "closed". Weird. It also includes how often, according to each reporter, you were behind on your bills, by how much, as well as the max balance you carried, the average balance you ran, etc. My report says I was once 30 days behind on one of my student loans, which ... <rant about bureaucrats ellided>. You can easily imagine how that sort of summary might be interesting to someone considering lending you money or extending you credit.
Credit bureaus will also generate a single numerical score about you. I dunno what idiot would use this scalar score to make a decision about you, but maybe some businesses do. But businesses certainly aren't restricted to a one-dimensional metric of your desireability as a customer.
Now. As mchanson points out, different lenders may have different goals. Mortgage providers want to see that you're gonna take your debts seriously. Credit card companies might like you better if they know that you do pay in the end, but before doing so you tend to get into enough trouble that you make a lot of interest payments. Whatever. That said, MY credit reports haven't ever had any information on them that could have allowed a prospective lender to notice that I cancelled an annual-fee credit card on month 11, preventing me from paying fees.
There's also a significant difference here in that in your situation, you would have been providing the rewards and you would have had power to artificially manipulate the value of those rewards (make it harder to win your game without reward points. Here, the author doesn't provide the rewards he is simply stating what offers the credit card companies themselves are making.
At the end of the day, there is certainly still a moral hazard here but it is also a very different situation than the one you described.
It's not 100% obvious where that line lies, admittedly. I run a small side-project site (started as just something for friends/family) that lists checking and savings accounts that are free of "gotchas": free checking w/ no minimum balances, online savings accounts without weird caveats, etc. (http://www.pfstuff.com/checking/ and http://www.pfstuff.com/savings/, fwiw).
But, I also show some AdSense ads alongside some of the pages... which have the bad habit of advertising precisely the accounts that don't fit my criteria, and which I'm trying to steer people away from. Not always, but Google's algorithms rotate in such "bad choice" accounts more often than I'd like. I can ban some of the more egregious "10% guaranteed interest!" type stuff via AdSense's settings, but not everything. Perhaps I should just pull the ads entirely? That'd be the idealist thing to do, but of course would remove the (modest) monetization potential.
Long url: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?hl=en&biw=1...
a) Figure out the IP ranges that the chase hoodlums use.
b) Setup an alternate banner (without the word badassity in there) to show for those IP ranges.
c) Rinse and repeat for any other unreasonable demands.
One of my submissions got flagged by the mods last night, I'm assuming purely because my project is called "Shithead". (Am I going to change the name? Hell no :) )
I don't want any of the younger HNers around here to get the wrong idea, as I didn't really know when I was younger, this is not, in any sense, "FU money."
And those jobs are going to want you to work, so a better comparison is to a pile of money that throws off $4k/mo post-tax. If that pile of money is invested in blue chip dividend-paying stocks with an expected return of 5%, you'll need around $1m to generate $4k/mo in passive income. (Obviously tweak your expected return and the corresponding principal required to fit your assumptions of market performance.)
$1m may not be FU money to you, but others will disagree.
That said if you have zero debt, low expenses and a ton of money in an account that yields 4k a month in interest, 4k a month could be considered FU money.
((1/(1-inflation))-1) / ROI = ((1/(1-.03))-1)/.06 = 51.6%
PS: Just keeping what left over when you subtract the inflation rate from your ROI is close and you don't actually know the inflation rate or your long term ROI most of the time.
the entire blog I mean, not just this post
"$4000 a month is about twice the amount it takes to pay for my entire family’s living expenses. It’s also enough to pay the mortgage on a $900,000 house, "
How does $48000pa pay for a $900,000 mortgage? Old skool was 3x your income. Pre-crash, 5x was possible. This is 20x (ish).
What blindingly obvious point have I missed?
Taxes are high on this one, but in most places you're going to pay a lot of taxes on a 900k house.
You are on the money with 3x income being what you can realistically spend on a house without getting yourself in trouble.
A later poster says this is a mistake because it's what banks use, not what you can afford, but the banks historically used that number because it is what a person can reasonably afford. Way back when banks actually had to eat a loss on a bad loan, they knew who to loan to.
Beyond the fact that you can use credit cards to your financial benefit, simply getting the card has no consequences whatsoever. (Unless you buy into the 'you must keep a balance to maintain good credit' myth.)
This, of course, contrasts with something like a condom, where, if you are going to have sex (unlike driving, or purchasing on credit) - you are going to do it, regardless of whether you have the license/plastic (no pun intended) - so you may as well do it safely.
It's very difficult (impossible?) to go into debt to a credit card company, if you don't have a credit card. Likewise the vast, vast majority of people who don't have Drivers Licenses (by choice, as opposed to having them taken away) - tend not to cause fatal accidents.
Drivers licenses don't make people drive poorly nor do credit cards make people make poor financial decisions. If you're going to convolute the two through some form of causality, the argument you could make is that people who are apt to make poor financial decisions are more apt to pile up credit cards.
Your claim that getting a drivers license is the "worst safety decision a modern human can make" is pure hyperbole. What about not putting on a seatbelt? What about not checking their tires and brakes regularly? What about failing to adjust their mirrors? Those are the actions that reduce safety, not getting the license, much like buying that HDTV you cannot afford reduces financial standing, not getting the credit card.
If you take a representative sample of people who do what you suggest (seat belts, mirrors, tires, breaks) versus a sample of people that I offer (people who just don't drive - I.E. Walk) - I guarantee you there will be far fewer fatalities and injuries in my group, particularly in the 15-44 age range.
This ties _directly_ with credit cards - in that if you take a sample of people who do what you suggest (use credit cards properly/responsibly) versus a sample of people who do what I suggest (just don't get a credit card) - I believe my group will be better off financially.
To be truly scientific - we need to do a randomized trial - take a good sized group - and bucked them into two trials for 20 years - one group without cars, one group with. Another group with credit cards, another group without.
I'm confident that the non-car driving, non-credit card using group will experience fewer fatalities and be financially stronger.
I'm not arguing that you _shouldn't_ use a seatbelt, and that it doesn't help you (it does!) - I'm arguing that once you've started driving/riding, you've already increased your chance of fatality in a way that wearing a seatbelt can't reduce.
I'm not sure where bus-riding fits for safety. Anyone got numbers?
While this sucks for the system as a whole, on an individual level it does mean that those of us who have a reliable income (or FU money) can use credit cards very differently. They provide convenience, consumer protection, usually some kind of 'reward' (travel points or such), and yes, a 30 day grace period in which you can do something else with your money though I usually don't think of it that way. In fact, from an individual standpoint the only reason I can think of to use a debit card rather than credit here is a complete lack of financial responsibility/will power.
And getting card actually can be a bad financial decision as too many cards can negatively affect a credit score.
The problem with debt-financed purchasing is that while it expands short-term options if not managed properly it can severely limit long-term options.
I pay my card off multiple times per month. They don't get a chance to charge me interest.
(Just checked and I have $300 worth of points waiting to be spent on travel. That's my upcoming Boston trip covered.)
The fact that not having a credit card damages your credit score should be enough to make even semi-intelligent people realize that credit score is not a fair and equitable measure of one's ability to pay on time.
I prefer carrying around credit cards compared to cash, it's more convenient and I don't have to worry about whether I have enough cash on hand when I need to make a large purchase.
I feel safer using a credit card compared to my ATM card due to the chargeback and fraud protection provided by the credit card company. There's less money "at risk" if someone steals my credit card or skims my cc number (which has happened to me at a restaurant before - I paid with a credit card and the guy wrote down the number while handling my bill. A week later he attempted to use it at Best Buy to buy a laptop, which was caught by my credit card company's fraud department.).
I earn frequent flyer miles by spending with my credit card, which (combined with signup bonuses) earns me several free plane tickets every year. Since I fly semi-frequently this is a major cost savings for me.
I pay off my credit card balance in full every month, never incurring interest. In doing so, I show a consistent payment history and build my credit score. I don't particularly need it right now, but if I ever need to take out a mortgage, finance a car, or take out any other kind of loan, having a high credit score will benefit me in the long run.
I literally cannot think of a reason why this is a bad idea, or why anyone would consider this a bad financial decision.
Edit: Oh, and I forgot to mention that the law is on my side with charge backs and I'm not liable for fraud.
The real problem is that everyone pays this price, and it leads to price inflation even if you pay cash (yes, dealing with cash transactions has a price for the merchant as well, but that one's already built into their costs). The laws should be changed so that merchants are allowed to charge more for CC transactions. I don't understand why the government has allowed the CC industry to forbid that (seems to work for gas stations).
What's that, we all should just use debit cards instead? Hmm, I thought debit cards used the VISA or MasterCard networks?
There are greater and lesser evils, sometimes it's Ok to suck up a lesser evil to combat a greater one.