Isn’t it funny how we characterize commercial offers? Depends on whether we like or approve of the seller or not. A great idea is an incentive, like our local private electrical utility’s current offer. Called Green Power, they’ll put 100% of what we pay for our electricity into renewable sources—either buying the power or investing. We then pay a surcharge of 10%. Agreed, that’s not a savings for us the homeowners. But that’s not the deal. The current deal is they are giving out a popular local coupon book, “Where the Locals Go.” Right away I save the cost of the book and $10 off my favorite groceries. And this is just for our lights and fridge, not for heating and cooking, so 10% isn’t going to be a big sacrifice to be able to do good. I like this offer.

On the other hand, Chase Bank wants to buy new deposits, including ours, and this offer I don’t call an incentive but a lure. A lure into a game that forgets about the recent history of big banking. They are offering a $200 gift card (with a few strings attached) for a new account.

Now, this is one month after I went in to one of their branches with my three-inch deep pile of their direct mail pitches and asked them to take us off their mailing list. They seem very confident that money talks. It does, but no deal. What may benefit me a little today can bloat Chase and other big guys. Then when they fall on us, it’s crushing. I am not calling it cynical or intentional how scandals develop. I like business. But it just seems clear that in letting such “deals” concentrate financial power, stuff happens. Often when there’s a Goliath, there’s no David around. I’ll stick with my credit union, which demonstrates commitment to the community and treats me well.

Now in the news is the falling price for natural gas. Credited is the “success” of fracking. So, do I just shut up and take my part of the savings?

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