This was written in response to a comment on YouTube from someone who was trying to understand my FIPNA (Financial Provider Neutrality Act) arguments. It’s not a simple problem and I can see why it’s hard for someone to see the whole picture if they’re not familiar with incidents where PayPal and MasterCard have brought down a censorship hammer in the past. I appreciate their questions far more than the other guy that was talking to me who basically spent the entire time recycling the bogus Limbaugh-level nonsense of calling me a socialist and suggesting that what I want is the same thing as holding a gun to his head and forcing him to do work for me. My full wall-of-text diatribe comment follows. I’d be interested in any comments you have on this subject; just know that comments here are moderated as I find time to do so.
What I’m trying to do is find a solution to the problem of financial services banning people in a way that smacks of collusion. It helps to define the problem better first. Patreon banned Sargon and blamed their “global payment network” which could be any of PayPal, Stripe, Visa, or MasterCard. Sargon moved to SubscribeStar which immediately got kicked off of PayPal as a result. PayPal has also banned a lot of people and categories of businesses in the past, and every time they’d blame a payment card network (Visa or MasterCard) and upon contacting the blamed card network, the contacting party would be told that PayPal was responsible, not the card network. This circular blame tactic results in both parties not taking any sort of responsibility…and yet the financial cutoff on the basis of not liking someone’s category of business remains in place.
The thing about financial service providers is that unlike nearly every other category of private business, a financial service provider or colluding group of them can render someone destitute with the stroke of a pen and existing law carves out huge exceptions for banks to harm people without consequences. A story comes to mind where Bank of America had a customer come in with a scam check and asked if it was legit and, if so, could he cash it out. The bank made him wait and called the cops and had him arrested. He ultimately didn’t get any charges filed but he did get to spend some time in jail and have an arrest record, and he couldn’t sue BofA because the law says that they can have people on the premises arrested without consequences.
Ignoring the banks themselves, the ultimate problem seems to be payment card networks, specifically Visa and MasterCard. All ATM cards that are also members of a payment card network in the USA are (as far as I am aware) issued either a Visa or MasterCard card number. This means that Visa/MC form a duopoly, or what is known in capitalism as a “monopoly of two.” Essentially, any duopoly acting in its own self-interest will end up cooperating such that they behave no differently than a monopoly. The competition that forms the basis of a core element of a capitalist economic system (supply and demand) doesn’t start until you have a third player in the market that directly competes with the other two. American Express and Discover are the other two major payment card networks but I have never seen a single ATM card with either of their logos, and frankly I can count the number of Amex and Discover cards I swipe in a year on one hand. They only compete with Visa/MC in the credit card space and they’re quite minor competition by comparison.
Bringing my point full circle, the Visa/MC duopoly control the payment card networks that the entire country has to use to engage in electronic commerce. Even when you individually consider alternatives like using PayPal with a bank draft only, PayPal still needs to maintain their relationship with Visa/MC for every other customer that DOES use a Visa/MC card, be it a bank ATM card or a real credit card, otherwise Visa/MC will threaten to pull their partnership which would decimate PayPal, if not outright destroy it. This means that if a corporate executive at MasterCard (or someone who knows such an exec and has influence over them, i.e. a wife, family member, or close friend) decides that they hate Sargon’s politics or that Sargon rubbed them the wrong way one night when they were browsing through YouTube, that executive can leverage the banhammer power of the entire MasterCard company to force every downstream payment processor and intermediate money handling platform that has any payment processing relationship with MasterCard to refuse to do business with Sargon under threat of losing the ability to process ANY payments through MasterCard OR any other provider that partners with MasterCard, *potentially up to and including entire banks.*
This is the real reason why Stripe, PayPal, and Patreon seem to be colluding even though they may not be: it’s MasterCard pulling their puppet strings and I guarantee you that we have no access to the payment card network blacklist because the payment card networks will have that blacklist under strict non-disclosure agreements with hefty penalties for breach of that section of the contract. Because MasterCard could theoretically bully any kind of financial institution into doing their bidding and taking the public heat for it, my proposed solution is a law that requires all financial service providers to provide their services universally to anyone legally allowed to request them. The devil is always in the details (for example, loans would still require due diligence and be subject to rejection based on reasonable assessments of risk) but the basic premise is that everyone should generally have a right to open a bank account, get a payment card that can be used to engage in commerce online, and freely enjoy the use of that card as a means to send and receive funds between other consenting private parties without concerns over being “cut off” for any reason other than commission of a crime. When the outrage mob shows up and demands that PayPal cut Sargon’s account because he’s “muh alt-right troll insert emotional buzzwords here rah rah,” PayPal can throw their hands up in the air and say “hey, it’s the law, we HAVE to service Sargon no differently than we service you guys, so you’re wasting your time!”
I’m theorizing to some extent because there is a huge information vacuum right now, but based on all available evidence, Visa and/or MasterCard are the puppetmasters and the fight must ultimately be brought to their doorsteps. One last point: the reason I want a Constitutional amendment rather than a normal law is because a normal law will fail on FIrst Amendment grounds, namely the right to freedom of association, but a Constitutional amendment would be able to supersede the First Amendment right to freedom of association specifically for businesses that serve as financial transaction intermediates (anyone between your personal money and another person you’re trying to do business with being able to receive that money.)