Nation’s biggest challenge, credit card debt

Nation’s biggest challenge, credit card debt

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The nation’s biggest challenge, credit card debt. Credit cards are destroying this nation and its people, mortgaging the future and undermining our economy. We need to crack down on the banks and limit the amount of interest they can charge.

By Ray Hanania

RayHananiaColumnPodcast_I remember the JFK assassination. I remember the 9/11 terrorism. And, I remember the very first time I used a credit card. How many people remember that?

The Vietnam War ended and I had been transferred to an Air National Guard base in Peoria.

When I got home to Burbank, I borrowed my mom’s car to drive to Peoria. She gave me a plastic card and she explained I could use it to get gasoline from Shell.

Wow, how the world changed since I left to join the fight against the Commie-bastards!

The tank was filled and I jumped in without thinking, pretty much the same way we got into the Vietnam War, and later the Iraq War. I drove to Peoria. On the way back, I passed a Shell Station outside of Pontiac.

Credit card

Credit card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I didn’t fill up the tank, the owner did. And he checked the oil and cleaned the windshield, too, something only homeless people do these days. The gasoline cost $6 and I handed him the plastic card. A few minutes later, he returned and said it didn’t work.

I was in uniform, and that buzz cut was still fresh down the back of my neck. Turned out the owner served during World War II.

He told me I could mail the money when I got home. And I did, as soon as I got home. With a letter explaining how much I appreciated his courtesy, and his respect ,which came from trust.

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Little did I know that paying off credit card debt would soon become a life-long struggle, like trying to lose weight, and trust would become a thing of the past.

Credit card debt is our biggest challenge not only for individuals but for the entire country. Credit cards have taught us to mortgage the future, something as it turns out, government does all too well.

Credit cards let us buy what we can’t afford. Usually junk we don’t really need.

If I could tell one thing to young people, it’s to avoid using a credit card.

If I could tell one thing to congressmen – as if they would listen – I would say crack down on credit card interest rates. They are really out of line.

The other day I got this expensively designed letter and costly brochure from Discover that lavished praise and played to my ego. I have a great credit rating.

(Why do they get to know more about my credit history than I do?)

They begged, pleaded and cajoled me to sign-up for their card. They even offered me no interest for six months.

Buried deep in all of it was the interest rate they would charge: 25 percent. Gangsters don’t charge “25 percent.”

Credit card companies can charge outrageous interest, even though the average consumer barely earns 1/2 percent on their savings accounts: Actually our “savings account” is really money we give to the bank for “protection.” Gangsters call it “pizzo.” They charge us to use our money so they can make huge profits. It’s a twisted “protection racket.”

If all things were equal, the bank should ONLY be allowed to charge 5 percent above the Federal Prime Interest rate (3.5 percent today).

The banks are gangsters. Like Columbian drug killer Pablo Escobar and Mexican murderer El Chapo Guzman, the bankers give huge amounts of money to the politicians so the politicians can protect their interests, not the interests of the people.

We must change that. Why do we care more about helping foreign countries than helping our own people?

Why is the issue of immigration more important than credit card debt?

I miss that moment in time when two strangers could meet as “Americans” with a shared purpose and goal based on a sense of courtesy, respect and trust.

That’s true patriotism. Caring about fellow Americans and addressing the real problem we face in this country, mounting credit card debt. Mounting government debt. Mortgaging the future of our children to give political insiders huge pensions to secure their future while the rest of us struggle with barely enough to survive.

Give me a leader who truly cares about that!

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former City Hall reporter and political columnist. Email him at

This post has already been read 315 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites and (Illinois News Network at

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post,, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

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