The Fish
for 4 January 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Suck Staff

Joey Anuff
Joey Anuff
Editor in Chief


[Tim Cavanaugh]
Tim Cavanaugh
Special Guest Editor


Terry Colon
Terry Colon
Art Director


Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor


[Copy Edit]
Erica Gies
Merrill Gillaspy

Copy Editors


[Phillip Bailey]
Phillip Bailey
Production Editor

Suck Alumni
Suck Alumni Text

Carl Steadman
Carl Steadman


Ana Marie
Ana Marie Cox
Executive Editor


Sean (Duuuuude)
Sean Welch


Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
Copy Editor


T. Jay Fowler
Production Manager
& Ass Kicker


[yes, it's
a plunger. i'll l
eave the rest up to your imagination ... ]
Erin Coull
Production Manager


Monte Goode
Ghost in the Machine


Matt Beer
Matt Beer
Development Manager


Forsyth, " we're just spanning time "]
Brian Forsyth
Production Editor
& Pool Monitor


[the fixin'
pixie... ]
Emily Hobson
Production Manager
& Rhythm Guitar


Ian Connelly
Marketing Manager

Toons of Glory

You really nailed the
mysteriously unfunny New
cartoons. One of your
best sucking spoofs yet.


We knew it was a can't-miss
proposition. Either people
would say, "Wow, your
cartoons were just like the
New Yorker's, only funny."
Or they'd say, "You really
nailed the mysteriously
unfunny New Yorker cartoons."

Nailing it,

St. Huck
Fish With Letter Icon

I loved the "Word up, Honey"
cartoon; it was great.


All credit goes to the
indefatigable Terry Colon,
who played both ways on that
one — i.e., not only did
he draw it, he wrote the
caption too.

Fish With Letter Icon

Subject: And a Merry
Bah-Humbug to you

Once again you folks have
provided the acetone to clean
off the crappy veneer globbed
on by 364 days of
"authority," real and
advertised. Things would be
so much nicer and simpler
(not to mention sweeter
smelling) if everyone would
stop telling us what to do,
why it's good for us, and why
our lives would be so much
better for it. But as
sentient beings (or just
incontinent, as in, "Why does
your shit stink and mine
doesn't?"), we seem to have
the need to fuck around with
things, make things better.
Not that I'm a social
luddite, mind you, but
somehow the words "Live and
let live" seem to resonate
somewhere, or maybe it's "Do
unto others." Oh well, it
looks like another year of
fun, frolic, and cavortment,
with the world trying to put
PC polish on my rough ol'
ass. Hope you avoid the
rose-colored contacts for yet
another millennium. Keep the

Curt Masemore

Maybe you should try
loofahing that rough old ass.
It's good for you.

Fish With Letter Icon

Gimme Gimme Gimme


With all due respect, sir,
you're full of shit! Fuck
these goddamn blood-sucking
leeches at America's
financial institutions. This
whole ATM mess is absurd.
These fuckers are bleeding us
dry ... because they can!

Shit, I wish the days of
"3-3-3" were back! You know
what they pay me for interest
on my accounts? If I'm lucky,
I squeeze 1.75 percent.
Jesus! And as far as "the
cost of maintaining an ATM"
goes, forget about it. Do
they cost money to maintain?
Yes, absolutely. Are they a
technological wonder? Do they
generally kick ass? Of
course. But each ATM
(according to recently
published reports) costs
approximately US$30,000 to
maintain each year. How much
do you think they save in
salaries? How much in benefits?
Sick time? Profit sharing? In
fact, these things are the
ultimate profit machine —
they give their profits to
the banks.

The banks made the decision
to do away with tellers and
other "human" services
wherever possible. And I
agree — the convenience
speaks for itself. But fuck
the banks and anybody stupid
enough to agree with them on
this issue. The fucking
things save them so much cash
it's not even funny. Don't
believe me? Well, think back
to your precious '80s. How
many banks did you find in
supermarkets? When I was a
little kid, you actually went
to a "bank": a big, imposing,
free-standing structure with
tons of official,
serious-looking people doing
seriously imposing shit. Now,
you stop by on your way to
the car with the groceries
and talk to one, maybe two
individuals. Fuck the banks.
They're trying to ride a cash
cow and don't like that
they're being called out on
the carpet. This is their
cost of doing business, not
mine! And, in fact, the
banking industry seems
perfectly willing to gloss
over the fact that when they
first introduced ATMs, they
billed them as "cost-saving"
devices! How soon they

Gary Shust

Indeed, banks make money
— last year, according to
the statistical abstract, they
made more than 13 percent
return on their equity and a
little more than 1 percent on
their assets. This is not denied
in my piece. But given the
numerous ways to avoid paying
these ATM fees, I'd say
banks' decisions about what
to charge for their services
ought to be a matter between
them and their customers, not
city governments.


Fish With Letter Icon

Hey Eugen,

Good stuff.

What's your take on adding to
military personnel's benefits
the honor of not having to
pay ATM fees? I tend to be
"government: hands off!!!" on
my approach to things but
feel that saving a poor
serviceman the $1.50 charge
for using the enemy/
competitor's ATM could
go a long way toward making the
service a more desirable
alternative to, say, college
or just getting a regular

Think about it.

Frieda von Pollo

Indeed, the poor serviceman
is key to all sorts of public
policy issues, most
especially our profligate
throwing of our weight around
internationally. Let us work
to eliminate that job, and
then this ATM problem will
disappear like the morning


Fish With Letter Icon

My belief is that, as old
constitutional law indicates,
corporations, particularly
limited monopolies like
banks, operate at the
sufferance of the people. If
they didn't operate in accord
with the wishes of the early
government of this country,
they lost their charter. I
realize this isn't the case
anymore, but it ought to be.
My point with specific regard
to banks is, screw them. They
make a Titanic profit off the
sweat of our brows. They take
interest, they take fees,
they take stock profits. How
much of that do they return
to their customers? How much
profit do they really need?
If there were a legitimate
argument that the money that
they were taking in profits
was stimulating the economy
to greater ecstasies of
growth and orgies of new jobs
and businesses, I'd say cool.

The fact of the matter is
that banks, like most
corporations, make profits
when you and I suffer.


I have never looked upon,
outside bursts of sudden
self-pity, my paying for any
service as "suffering" per
se, nor do I agree with the
notion that people conduct
business at the sufferance of
the populace. Banks' decades
of benefiting from special
government privileges was
addressed in my piece, and it
surely does make one want to
see them get theirs. Two
wrongs, alas, don't make a
right, or so I was taught at
my papa's knee.

Fish With Letter Icon

I read with interest your
comments on ATMs. I live in
Connecticut, where the state
has banned point-of-"sale"
ATM fees (the ones you pay to
the owner of the ATM). One of
the arguments the banks make
is that the machines will
disappear if the fees are
banned. I'm here to tell you
(and I'm surprised the news
media hasn't picked up on
this) that we've got ATMs all
over the place. In fact, I
see as many machines here as
I do in places where the
banks charge outrageous
($2.50 plus) fees, such as
New Orleans and most of
Florida. Furthermore, I've
never seen it mentioned, but
the banks actually collect in
a third way. When you
withdraw money from a
"foreign" teller machine, the
foreign bank treats that as a
loan to your bank on which it
collects interest, albeit a
minuscule amount.

There are banks that eschew
fees. There are Web sites
that show where these are. I
for one try very hard to
patronize them when I am out
of state.

Larry Davis

Thanks for your thoughtful
reply. Indeed, banks won't
necessarily get out of the
ATM business without the
fees. Which doesn't shed any
light on the wisdom or
propriety of government
deciding what fees a company
can charge. More customers
should take your approach.

Fish With Letter Icon


Perhaps I'm missing something
due to my continued residency
in the Canadian wilds,
perhaps I'm not. Either way,
let me know if I've got this
right: You are arguing that
banks are justified in
levying service charges and
our objections to them derive
from a false sense of
entitlement? Specious, my
good man. Specious.

The cost to install and
maintain ATMs was borne out
(in Canada at least) in the
massive downsizing visited
upon banks' workforces.
Moreover, they use ATMs only
because they are a cheaper
method of delivering the same
service. If you want other
examples, just look at a Ford
assembly line.

Am I counterarguing that ATMs
do not have an overhead? No,
just that offsets exist where
the cost of maintaining an
ATM is considered. Banks saw
the opportunity to capitalize
on customer behavior and now
charge an equal or greater
amount than the hourly wage
of a teller. In other words,
not only are they not paying
that wage, they are making
a more than 100 percent return
on the cut. Subtract the
electricity used to power it,
the depreciated value of the
thing, as well as the Wells
Fargo dudes who spirit the
money away (or reload it),
and the cost per ATM is
minimal. That's just the easy
economics of it.

The real kick in the ass
comes from the fact that we
give our money to banks, which
give us no return in the form
of interest (at last check,
my savings account was
providing me with .75
percent, and my checking
account .01 percent — no,
I'm not joking. I get a penny
per hundred dollars in my
checking account, and 75 cents
in my savings). As the Barenaked
Ladies sing, "if I had a
million dollars," I could
barely live off the interest
(single malts are expensive,
you know). Yet banks this
money and aggressively invest
in all manner of endeavors
for their own profit. Their
investment schemes with my
money benefit their
shareholders, not me.
Perversely enough, I can live
with that.

What I cannot live with is
banks filling their coffers
just a little more by
circumscribing my choices
even further. They took
away tellers, loaded up the
city with ATMs, then charged
me when I didn't have a
choice as to where I could do
my banking. Thus, my real beef
comes from a point of logic.
How can they justify charges
to me when 1) the alternative
they provide suits them
better, and 2) they already
use my money to increase
their profit margin? Then
they turn around and use cost
as a justification for why
they charge to use the ATMs.
Fine, it does cost money to
run these things, I have
already acknowledged that.
I'll gladly pay one cent more
than the real cost of using an
ATM. On a per-use basis, the
cost to me would be, what
— three, maybe four cents
a pop. I do not have a false
sense of entitlement, at
least not about this issue
(do not talk to me about what
I should be earning yearly).
I do have a sense about fair
value for service rendered.
Fair exchange is all they are
entitled to.


Will Murray

Yes, I understand you feel
banks are making too much
money. It's quite easy to
avoid letting them make that
little extra off foreign-bank
ATM fees, by the way. I'll
leave the solution as an
exercise for the reader, just
like Encyclopedia Brown.
Don't peek in the back!


Fish With Letter Icon

 Terry Colon's RIP Lists
 for the 20th Century
10 Biggest Disappointments of the Century
1. Comet Kohoutek
2. Communism
3. New Coke
4. Prohibition
5. Ali/Anoki fight
6. The Edsel
7. Cold fusion
8. Quadraphonics
9. The Lambada/The Convergence (tie)
10. The British Empire

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