It started with porn stars. People who make their living making movies while having sex. They got letters in the mail from Bank of America saying because of their profession, their business was no longer desired.
Then it was firearms and munitions sellers. Their banks sent letters severing business relationships. All business relationships, including access to credit card processing.
Next were the payday loan and pawn shop people. As predatory as those businesses are, they are still legal. But the banks no longer wanted their business, either.
Then Square was a target, and a hookah bar, and now….
Now, a manufacturer of knives – defensive and sporting weapons moreso than table cutlery – received notice from a bank that solicited their business, Wells-Fargo, that, well, because weapons are sold over the internet…yeah, the pre-Civil War Bank couldn’t process their credit card transactions online.
That knife manufacturer is Hogue Inc., a family run company out of California founded in 1968 with reputed quality products including tactical gear, and firearms accessories.
“It was pretty simple and straightforward,” Aaron Hogue, co-owner of Hogue Inc., said of the situation he faced with Wells Fargo bank. “They called my controller, and said, ‘Sorry, but we’re not going to be able to process any credit card transactions for the sale of weapons online.’”
“And they specifically said because you guys sell knives,” he added.
To Americans following the Operation Choke Point story since Bank of America bounced the porn stars, this sounds all too familiar. In Barack Obama’s second term, perfectly legal, but “objectionable” industries to some subjective “authority” have been targeted by the Department of Justice through their banks. The idea is to choke off the life of the business by denying them access to banking services including the credit card payment systems. Justice does that by threatening the banks that do business with such entities with more regulation and government interference. Next thing a lot of business owners know, they get a letter from their bank telling them that their business is no longer desired.
In the case of Hogue Inc., that won’t be a problem, though.
For Hogue, unlike some other small business owners, the situation with Wells Fargo isn’t going to hurt his business. Hogue already had access to a payment processing service through Chase Bank, and said it was Wells Fargo that approached him with a “sharp deal” that was supposed to save him “about $60,000 per year.”
Losing that deal won’t come at a cost—at least not for Hogue Inc., he said.
“It’s not really affecting us particularly. We’re just staying with our current credit card provider,” Hogue said. “It’s their loss, not ours.”
Operation Choke Point lumbers on despite a lot of bad publicity. Even worse, the government program that serves no one other than some nameless, faceless self-appointed moral authority is trying to off legitimate businesses not by legislating them out of existence, but by taking away their access to payment. That is just unAmerican.