December billings to MasterCard and Visa customers...


December 19, 1992

IN ITS December billings to MasterCard and Visa customers, the Bank of Baltimore includes a cheery note urging card holders to forgo payments until next month.

The note, with the words "SKIP IT!" in big, black letters at the top, reads: "We know how short money is at this time of year. We also know how well you've handled your bank card payments.

"So, in order to help you over the financial hump, we'll allow you to skip this month's payment. We won't bill you for two payments next month. We will however, [sic] add finance charges to your balance at the rate disclosed on your statement.

"If you wish to take advantage of this offer, simply skip your payment. You've earned the right."

Bah, humbug and puh-leeze!

We hope recipients of this oh-so-generous message realize that by skipping payments for a month, they'll increase the finance charges on the amounts owed when their next bill arrives. Which, as we see it, is more a gift from the bank to itself than to its valued customers.

If the bank really wanted to plunge into the giving spirit of the season, then it would, let's say, drop finance fees for a month or even offer a discount on December charges.

Right. And a fat old guy in a red suit will fly around the world in a reindeer-powered sleigh on Christmas Eve night.

Ah, skip it.

* * *

MARYLAND'S Don Schaefer is in good company.

Excoriated by Democratic loyalists for endorsing Republican George Bush in the recent presidential campaign, the governor can point out that "Mr. Conservative" -- 1964 GOP standard-bearer Barry Goldwater -- broke from his party to back a Democrat for Congress.

The reaction in Arizona matched the verbiage heard in Maryland. Thundered Arizona GOP chairman Jerry Davis: "Barry Goldwater all people should understand the obligation of the party to remain unified." Said an irate letter-writer to the Arizona Republic: "Barry Goldwater reminds me of the athlete who doesn't know when it's time to fade into the sunset. . . Pack it in, Barry and stop embarrassing yourself."

Sound familiar?

Mr. Schaefer heard much of the same, but with one big difference. His candidate lost the state and the nation. Mr. Goldwater's candidate, Karan English, won the Arizona 6th District seat against a Bush administration official the former senator dismissed as a carpet-bagger.

One other coincidence: While Maryland was voting to uphold a relatively liberal abortion-rights law, Arizona was turning down a tough anti-abortion proposal. And in this, as in the congressional race, Senator Goldwater was a key factor by siding with the liberals. Attacked by the religious right for having once taken a contribution from a right-to-life group and then switching, the 83-year-old legend replied: "A man has a right to change his mind."

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