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Target Gives Credit Cards a Good Name

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Industrial loan program a boon to the company.

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Greetings from New York, where I spent the better part of last night trying to rebook a flight. Seemed relatively simple: I'm in the biggest city in the country, I'm going to San Antonio which has a Ripley's Believe it or Not across the street from the Alamo, and a basketball team that calls to mind the mid to late '60s Yankees. They should have non-stops hourly, or least every couple hours. As it turns out, they don't. At least not more than once a day.

What's worse, you can't gather such information from the commercial online sites like Expedia (EXPE) or Priceline (PCLN). As it happens, they have limited flight and airline choices. So to determine whether a flight option exists, you have to go airline by airline. This is a deeply painful exercise when you don't find the flight you want. There are no consumer protection acts being driven down Congress's throat to fix the scam driving EXPE's (up 92% ytd) and PCLN's (up 50%) businesses. This despite all the well-intentioned, responsible people who are trying to pay for a flight responsibly. The productivity waste is enormous.

Also not being protected: "smart phone" consumers, tied to long-term, fiscally onerous contracts that effectively leave users stuck for at least 2 years paying above-market prices for phones that do everything except make reliable phone calls. I've got an Apple (AAPL) iPhone with the latest OS. The operating system upgrade improves my ability to text, has some cool new apps, and seems to lessen the phone's freezing. What it doesn't do is what it can't: The new OS doesn't improve the horrific AT&T (T) network. So, now I shake my iPhone to make the songs shuffle.

I enjoy those features, but what I'd really like to do is place reliable phone calls. No dice on AT&T's network. One can only imagine what AT&T paid (via subsidies, most likely) to get the iPhone account. Doesn't matter. My point is 2 large corporations struck a deal that cost consumers meaningfully, and the government simply doesn't care.

I was dumb to buy an iPhone. It would cost me dearly to change back to a BlackBerry,(RIMM), or to try the intriguing Pre from Sprint (S). Consumers are getting crushed; what we're being protected from are "banks too large to fail." This is a concept that dates back 100-odd years to the Roosevelt administration. The Teddy Roosevelt administration.

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Positions in AAPL, AGU

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