Last week, the mailman dropped an unremarkable white envelope into my box, and when going through all the junk, I almost threw it out, assuming it was yet another realtor offering to sell my home or a solar roofing company with a hot deal. But then I realized the envelope was rigid in one corner, which could mean only one thing: it was a debit or credit card replacement.
Indeed it was a debit card—but a most unusual one. This rectangular piece of plastic looks like most ATM cards, except that featured in the background is the Cali bear from the state flag, and the California state seal is clear as a bell in the upper right corner.
“Here is your California Middle Class Tax Refund Card enabled by Money Network,” the enclosed letter read.
Nowhere in the letter does it say how much money is on the card.
So let me get this straight…I pay money in income taxes. The state shuts down what it determines to be non-essential private enterprise plus government services for over a year, causing schoolchildren to fall behind educationally and emotionally, businesses to be crushed, and lives to be ruined. We periodically get some “relief” checks from the feds and the state. All the while, however, we are still required to keep paying taxes, which in California can run as high as 12.3 percent of your income.
Then you get a cute little debit card which you are supposed to feel grateful for.
Imagine all the money it requires to pay agents to go through millions of tax returns and process tax payments. Now let’s double that effort to revisit those tax returns, create a whole new infrastructure to send people some of their money back, and process millions in “refunds.”
So I just got a debit card for California's "middle class tax refund" program. I wish I could opt out of this trap and instead be excluded from the future tax hikes down the line to pay for this. It's like a Payday loan, it'll hurt twice as bad later. pic.twitter.com/0FN3FItf4z
— Logan (@Pregfur) November 16, 2022
How many tens of millions of dollars could have been saved if you’d just let us keep our money in the first place, Gavin Newsom? Or not kneecapped the entire state in endless lockdowns which forced nail salons, gyms, and restaurants to go out of business?
This feels like a payoff, plain and simple.
But does it come with strings attached? Of course, it does. To access my money, or even find out how much is on the card, I have to agree to terms dictated by the card’s issuer, New York Community Bancorp, Inc. Interesting little tidbits in the Facts section:
The types of information we collect and share depend on the product or service you have with us. This information can include:
– Social Security Number and Income
– Account Balances and Payment History
– Transaction History and Credit History
So now I’m agreeing to share my information with a company that I never asked to do business with? And the bank is in New York—they couldn’t even find a bank here in sunny California?
Surely I can opt out, right? Not so much:
Are there fees associated with this free money? But of course. You’ll get dinged if you use it at an out-of-network ATM, you’ll really get hit if you use it internationally, and if you want to just pop in your bank and ask for a withdrawal, guess what? There’s a fee. (You won’t be charged if you use an in-network ATM machine, but there is a $600 withdrawal limit.)
Although my darling little debit card arrived after election day, the “Better For Families” act that authorized it was conveniently signed by Governor Gavin Newsom at the end of September—approximately five weeks before the midterms. Like Biden’s student loan bailout, it felt like an obvious payoff for your vote (except California’s gambit was legal, while Biden’s was shot down by a federal court).
The reason these politicians do these giveaways is because, quite simply, they work. Who knows how many indebted grads mailed in their votes for Biden out of appreciation for his taking the debt load off their shoulders, not knowing that he was cravenly using them and knew full well the bid was illegal. Even I—no fan of Newsom or the Democrats’ one-party rule here in the Golden State—feel a little bounce in my step today. Maybe I’ll get that pair of shoes I passed on last week… I can imagine people at home saying, “oh my, that nice man with the hair who looks like a soap-opera actor just gave me free money! I like him!”
Except that it was our money in the first place—and now it’s worth less than when we gave it to them because of inflation. The whole thing feels like a scam, and a flat-out bribe for my vote.
One more fun fact: California just announced a $25 billion budget deficit after a long period of surpluses. Wonder how they’ll fix that? They’ll raise taxes. Maybe I can pay them with this cute little card…