The Scottish economist Adam Smith is often regarded as the founder of modern economic theory, both at a macro political scale and a more micro-oriented personal capitalist level. His conclusions stemmed greatly from social philosophy, and one of my favourite quotes from his opus The Wealth Of Nations is the cynic’s credo:
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.
The analogy is followed through its natural progression that businesses and governments will therefore always act in their own self-interest, and that benefits to consumers and citizens are a mere by-product of these institutions’ need to retain popularity. Nowhere is this more evident than in New York, the Mecca of capitalism.
The American novelist Joseph Heller, a born & raised New York native, is most famous for Catch-22, a cry against the bureaucracy and fantastical situations that can be directly derived from Adam Smith’s principles.
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions.
It’s important to have read and fully understood both of these authors’ work before attempting to apply for a credit card in a new country.
A credit company will only provide cards, which cost money to produce and maintain and operate, if they believe it will lead to a profit for them. A basic, no-frills card will probably make money from enough money from vendors to give away nonchalantly — credit companies, of course, double-dip to take profits from those spending and those taking payments. A slightly fancier, card, however, will only be offered to those willing to front some money for it, or who have a history of maintaining a balance and paying interest on that balance.
This profit, however, is dependent on the person using the card not simply walking away and never paying off their balances. As such, it will only be offered to someone who has a credit history of making their basic payments. In order to get such a history, one will need to obtain some credit, and pay it off. In order to obtain this credit, one will need to get this history.
It took seven months, and ringing two banks (Citibank and HSBC) to ask them to post themselves a letter – which they honestly, physically did, to be clear, Citibank USA sent a letter to Citibank USA and HSBC UK sent a letter to HSBC USA) – and now, finally, I have two credit cards, which arrived within a week of eachother.
The new challenge is to overcome to impulse to buy things I don’t need simply to improve my credit rating.