Wells Fargo is in the news because 5,600 employees (at least) were opening accounts without permission so they could get bonuses. Naturally, no senior managers are in trouble; it was apparently just a coincidence that 5,600 employees made the same dumb mistake.
I briefly banked with Wells Fargo. When I set up a savings and checking account they asked if I wanted overdraft protection; if I wrote a check for more than was in my checking account, they’d transfer money from my saving account. I’d used that service with a previous bank and found it convenient.
One day my wife and I both wrote checks, which together amounted to more than what we had in checking, but, hey, there’s money in savings so no problem, right.
Wells Fargo charged me $25.00 to transfer $3.00 of my money from my Wells Fargo savings account to my Wells Fargo checking account. Heaven knows what they would charge for an actual overdraft ($500 plus they break your kneecap?).
The next day I closed every account I had with Wells Fargo and moved to another bank. I was careful to use the Wells Fargo restrooms—I’m sure there would have been a hefty charge attached.
So, when I saw today’s scoreboard:
I was not surprised.
A question in high school Algebra bugged me all my adolescent and some of my adult life–until I figured out the answer for myself: “Why is it important to learn Algebra, as when are we ever going to use Algebra in life again?” Believe it or not, I thought the same about “Caveat Emptor” when I first heard and learned about it in business and economics–until it was made real and relevant in life.
My Mexican dad used to freak me out with his knowledge–even though he had absolutely no formal education: He just read a lot on his own. And he messed with me a lot and what I was learning in school. We were talking about my economics class and asked me where the word “economics” came from. Of course I didn’t know, so he said it was Greek and literally means “the law or custom of the home.” He went on to say economics originally meant the study of the family and the home, not merely the production or distribution of material goods and money, and there’s a relationship of economics and cultural values–and prosperity is not about secular salvation or utopic affluence. Instead, it’s more like a divine call for man to fulfill the promise of three extraordinary ideals: liberation of the family from abject poverty, freedom from the power of political tyranny, and release of the individual conscience from the stigma of emotional oppression. And much the way capitalism works in American society, the primary form of capital is the human will and spirit–and hard work and commitment. We had to “believe” something to be true BEFORE “knowing it is true”–with one proviso: Trust but verify…Caveat Emptor.
Dad truly believed we must not live life mistrusting everyone and everything, yet neither must we be ignorant (without all the facts). When we are confident, we feel good. And when we feel good, we do good things.
As far as Algebra is concerned, we seek “X” (the unknown or the uncertain) all the days of our lives…from buying TVs, homes, cars, and internet providers–to seeking employers, colleges and even spouses. And yes, caveat emptor even applies then too.