On-campus swipers beware

A Pepsi and a Milky Way bar? Swipe it! A new calculus book? Swipe it! Thirty seven bottles of Pepto-Bismol and a copy of Ann Coulter’s newest political book? Well, you get the picture.Today, seemingly anything that one could want on campus is available via the use of our student ID card. Cool? I guess.

An indoctrination into a system of plastic over cash that will one day launch our nation into a second Great Depression? You bet.

I will admit that the card is vital for gaining entrance to the dorms and deducting from the meal plan. Without it, we would be running around sans shelter and possibly eating each other for sustenance. Somehow, I don’t think that kind of environment would haul in a ton of National Merit Scholars and blue-chip football recruits.

The real problem lies in the manner in which we are all using our cards, we non-chalantly buying unneccessary items at Frog Bytes and the bookstore. As for the unpleasant matter of the bill, it oh-so-conveniently goes home to mom and dad.

Sweet deal, huh? Actually, not so much. One day, we will all leave the hallowed halls of TCU and go out into the real world. There, we will be inundated with credit card offers from MasterCard, American Express and others. Needing to establish a credit rating for big purchases such as homes and cars, we will inevitably ink a contract with the creditor of our choice.

Armed with an arsenal of plastic and a dearth of money, Joe McFrog is still going to be used to the good old days of yore, and will continue charging without a sense of obligation. However, instead of answering to Mr. and Mrs. McFrog, Joe now has to answer to his new parents: Visa and Discover. Unlike his old parental units, these new folks won’t hesitate to send his debt-laden butt cheeks to prison. Once in the big house, Joe will no longer be chasing coeds, he’ll be the coed. Ouch!

Ok, so maybe Joe’s situation is a little extreme, but does it really seem that far-fetched? Is there one among us that still feels any sort of pain when we pull out our swipe card? I know I don’t.

The average American has more than $9,000 in credit card debt, according to ABC News. That’s hardly a small chunk of change. What’s more, as a separate report filed by the United Business Media shows, 45 percent of those debtors are making either the minimum payment or none at all. Such appalling statistics should raise a red flag to the future cardholders of tomorrow. Yet, the swiping continues.

How can you avoid the trap?

Simply put, use cash or check for all purchases. This way, you’ll feel the money leaving your funds and going into the hands of whatever greedy merchant you choose to do business with.

Conversely, every time you use your credit card, the money magically disappears from your bank account without the chance for you to really register the loss. Plus, whenever you charge items, a cute little puppy goes missing. Well, not really, but it’s best to think of it as such.

Perhaps world-renowned rapper and political activist Sean “P. Diddy Puffy McDaddy Mac” Combs said it best: “It’s all about the Benjamins.”

Truer words were never spoken, my friends. Straight-up gangstas don’t pay for stuff on credit, and neither should you.

David Hall is a freshman news-editorial journalism major from Kingwood. His column appears every Tuesday and Friday.