The King Canute Memorial Award for Clueless Legislation (Winter 2015-16) goes to Senator Bernie Sanders. He had stiff competition from ocean-lowering President Barack Obama, this season, but surely earned it these past few months.
Canute famously warned his advisors that he was no miracle worker. Standing by the sea and commanding the tide to turn only works on a regular schedule — set by natural forces, knowable in advance only after years of careful observation. All the hand-waving, incantations and official edicts cannot change the tide.
The award goes to those most in need of the Full Canute Object Lesson. Sanders’s latest ninnyism begs for just such a lesson: He wants to establish maximum fees for ATMs, down to $2 per transaction.
As everyone knows, some ATMs charge more than others. Why? It is not costless to provide electronic bank inquiries and withdrawals around the country . . . and the world. And profitability varies.
Supply and demand. Entrepreneurs do not offer these services out of charity. Close off profits in some areas, there will be corresponding effects.
From my experience, transaction fees range from about five bucks down to . . . Zero.
I usually pay nothing.
Outlawing fees above some arbitrary maximum will almost certainly ensure there will be fewer ATMs — particularly in low-use areas — and might even raise those zero-priced transactions to one- or two-buck fees.
Prices aren’t arbitrary, so no matter how loudly Bernie Sanders sputters “Unacceptable,” price ceilings aren’t magically going to produce the same service at less cost.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.