Today’s guest blogger is Federico “Freddy Fees” Carbone, a member of the Credit Card Cartel and underboss to Vincent “Vinny Visa” Vitale, the undisputed Don of America’s largest organized consortium, who exercises authority over the heads of the Five Families: Visa, Master, Amex, Discover and Slate.

Freddy Fees here, giving you the inside dope. Not like it’s gonna help you, but just to let you know who’s boss. Lots of you suckers have been getting little pamphlets in the mail from your credit card companies, letting you know that the vig is going up, way up. Only we don’t call it the vig anymore (short for “vigorish,” a Yiddish word by way of Russia, meaning “winnings,” but used to figure a loan shark’s or a bookie’s take, always a hefty rate). We call the vig an interest rate these days, compounded hourly or by the second or however they do it lately, we got computers for that stuff. Just figure it to be plenty, pushing 30% or more plus “hidden fees,” the kind of thing the government used to put guys like us in jail over. No more.

Us gangsters finally wised up and went mainstream and now we’re running all the major credit card companies. We got Vinny Visa to thank for all these hikes in the vig. Vinny’s the Boss of All Bosses in the credit card racket and what he says goes. And Vinny says you suckers are gonna get squeezed just a little bit more, or a whole lot more if you read the fine print.

See, the Feds are cracking down on the rates credit card companies can squeeze out of working stiffs, but as usual they gave us fellas in Vinny Visa’s corporate gang plenty of notice, so we had time to jack up the rates moon high, so that when the deadline comes for lowering them, we can roll them back to sky high. In other words, right back to the backbreaking levels that got the Feds all worked up in the first place. Lucky for Big Credit, Vinny Visa has lots of well-placed “fixers” in Washington, only he calls them lobbyists these days. Sweet.

A fixer is a guy who knows where the bodies are buried, knows what kind of girls (or boys) a Senator likes to fool around with, who’s in big debt to his bookie or some casino, who likes to travel first class and don’t care who’s paying the freight, who has a junkie kid or wife they don’t want advertised, and who likes cash and expensive jewelry in hand in exchange for their vote. Washington’s lousy with fixers, and Vinny Visa’s got ours working overtime these days. Makes us wonder why we didn’t get into this racket a long time ago instead of working outside the law. We still get a huge vig, and nobody’s going to jail for loan sharking.

Not only that, but you wanna talk about respect? We got it in spades, the best seats in the best restaurants, luxury boxes at any stadium you can name, private jets, limos, big tax breaks and bonuses up the wazoo. You flash the name Visa, Amex, or Master Card on a business card with some fancy title and chumps are falling all over you, opening doors, lighting your smokes, standing you drinks, whatever. Women? Forget about it, they’re all over a made corporate man! And these days we get to put our houses and all our other swag in our own names, no ballbreaking detectives or D.A.s confiscating what we earned.

Funny thing is, we’re pulling the same crap we always pulled, adding extra fees, upping the vig whenever we feel like it, and we still get to grab assets from the stiffs who don’t pay, only this time the cops and the marshals do it for us, all legal and legit. No more leg breaking and bombing joints, which was a waste since you can’t collect from no burnt-down business or a guy in the hospital. Only rarely do we have to whack a guy these days, and we take extra care to make it look like a heart attack or an accident.

Me, I kinda miss putting two behind a guy’s ear to send a message, but Vinny Visa don’t want nobody gettin’ a whiff of the mob being behind the credit card scam. He don’t want nobody to blow this sweet gig, especially after a bunch of his boys went a little crazy with the phony mortgage scams in ’08 and almost killed the cash cow we all been milking. Funny how some guys get handed millions and millions for doing practically zip, more dough than they’ll ever need, and then they want more.

Me, I was all for whacking the bunch of ’em before they turned rat, but Vinny cooled us down and told us he’d handle it. If you noticed, a few of the main bums died of “strokes” and “heart attacks,” and some others are doing major time in the slammer, and nobody’s talking to the D.A. or it’s the poor house for their whole family. Vinny says that put the other dopes in line in a hurry, and so far the Feds are none the wiser, even handing us more billions of you suckers’ tax dough to make up for what those dopes blew. Go figure. I gotta admit he’s got a point, but I’m kinda old school and woulda liked taking a few of those greedy punks for a little ride.

Now things are looking peachy again, at least for us, and even with the rate limits coming, our fixers are making sure we got plenty of loopholes in the new rules; transaction fees, membership dues, transfer charges, and a whole bunch of other shakedowns. All legal, too. Once you buy a bunch of Congressmen and Senators, there’s no need to pay off judges and every cop on the beat. Hell, these guys are giving us things we didn’t even ask for! I think they’re a bigger bunch of crooks than we ever were.

Anyway, suckers, don’t go looking to Uncle Sam to get your credit card vig knocked down. He’s on our side now, and the same amount your vig gets reduced is what we’re gonna stick you with in “handling fees.” Just get used to paying and paying and paying and never getting off the hook. Dream on about ever paying down the principal, it’s gonna be all vig every month, and even when you don’t buy nothing, your tab still goes up. It’s a beautiful thing, and gravy for Vinny Visa’s boys. And don’t even think about switching credit card companies. He had a sit down with all the bosses from Amex, Master, Discover, Slate and all the smaller credit gangs.

Vinny laid down the law and made sure we’re all charging the same killer vig and piling on the hidden fees. He don’t want any wars between gangs. Bad for business and only attracts heat from the law. Anybody wants to go to the mattresses, he tells ’em there’s a stroke or a heart attack waiting for them too, and foreclosure on the wife and kids’ houses. No one wants to go back to the old days of being public enemies, even though that’s what we still are. Just as long as people think otherwise, we can go on ripping ’em off like we always done, and as far as I’m concerned, always will.

The best thing about this racket is that credit is just as addictive as heroin without having to deal with the crazy Afghanis on the one end and the desperate junkies on the other, all the time dodging cops and other thugs every step of the way. The longer we can keep this recession going, the better our business is. Hard times make for desperate suckers, and they even start buying groceries on their credit cards, so they’ll be paying for those Cheerios and hamburgers for years to come. This racket is just too sweet to quit.

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