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Ross: Shaming banks versus using the free market

Congresswoman Katie Porter tried to shame the CEO of JP Morgan Chase Wednesday at a House Financial Services Committee hearing. She presented the CEO a hypothetical example of a single mom trying to live on the bank’s starting wage $16.50 an hour.

Porter, who represents California’s 45th congressional district, went through average rent for the hypothetical mom, the gas for the 2008 minivan she drives, a low-cost food budget (with ramen noodles), and so on. After rent, daycare, food and other expenses …

“That takes her down to negative $567 per month,” Porter said. “My question for you Mr. Dimon is: how should she manage this budget shortfall while she’s working full-time at your bank?”

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Chase CEO Jaime Dimon, who made $31 million last year, said he wanted to help this woman.

“I’d love to call her up and have a conversation about her financial affairs and see if we can be helpful … just be helpful,” he said.

But of course Representative Porter had another solution in mind, which she explained the next night on MSNBC.

“If Chase would do what Bank of America has done, which is commit to raising its minim pay to $21 per hour, that would entirely erase the shortfall in the hypothetical that I gave Mr. Dimon,” she said.

But you realize what that means – it means there’s a free market solution here. This hypothetical woman needs to walk across the street and work for the competition! Except she won’t because it’s way more risky to quit when your benefits are tied to your job.

So instead of the shaming, maybe Congress should get busy changing that.

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