Thoughts By Diana
Thoughts By Dave
April 19, 2017
The New Caste System of Accounts
I feel alive. After all I woke up this morning, kissed my husband, hugged my daughter, ate breakfast, and took an early morning walk in the cool spring rain of an average Northwest day. Yet I was soon to discover in other realms of my existence I was not considered a full being with the same rights as my loving spouse.
Ever since we were married, my husband and I have had joint bank accounts and every business transaction and utility we sign up for has been in both of our names. We both presumed we had the same rights and responsibilities for all of these shared accounts.
Last week we decided to change the email address on several of our accounts. I did what I could online but had to call most of the institutions we deal with. I was told over and over again that I have no right to make changes because I'm not the "primary" account holder. I asked what I was then. They usually said I'm on the account but only a "secondary" account holder. I then asked how they made this distinction. Most said it was just by whose name was the first one listed when we applied for the account. So the "primary" account holder can make any change necessary with or without the "secondary" account holder but the "secondary" account holder can't do the same. I said but I'm the spouse of the "primary" account holder and this is a joint account. This latter statement seemed to make no difference. From the water company to our ISP to our 3 credit unions etc. none would allow me to make a simple email address change on my own. I was on the phone for over 5 hours trying to do this seemingly simple task. It was, to say the least, very disconcerting to be so negated in this fashion.
After all I live in a community property state, and I am very aware that whatever property you both acquire during your marriage and whatever debts each of you incur is the equal responsibility of you both. It was astonishing to me knowing this that the rights to our accounts weren't considered in the same way. What would happen, for instance, if I had to make changes to the accounts and my husband was in the hospital in a coma or otherwise incapacitated? I discovered I can't even make changes to our car insurance policy despite the fact I'm on the account. Yet, I clearly know I'm equally responsible for paying the premiums.
It was just totally shocking to me that I somehow was not considered worthy to make simple changes on accounts we share together. Is this how someone feels who is given the label of "illegal alien"? I'm quite sure they feel much much worse, but I got a small clue of what they must face each and every day. This must also be what people of color rightly feel about white privilege. When you are put in any kind of caste system, category, or some imaginary level of acceptance you become very aware of how dramatically it can affect your life and livelihood. It can easily anger you because of the feelings of not being in control of even the most basic fundamental things in your everyday life.
Our culture has always had its caste system of rich, poor and in between and wrongly so, but I had no idea that it now even categorizes spouses who share joint accounts into a hierarchy of levels of access.
I question what is the purpose of this. Is it just more of the corporate tech culture which tends to be a rather top down system? It does seem like there are always levels of access when it comes to using tech. Don't you just love when the box comes on the screen, "No Access Allowed"? Very rarely are you informed why. Recently I tried to access my Microsoft account and it said, "Your account has been temporarily suspended." I got on the phone with Microsoft and they wouldn't even tell me why. I then created another Microsoft account. In less than 2 days it was suspended. Again Microsoft wouldn't tell me why. I created a 3rd one and it too was suspended. I guess some algorithm is telling Microsoft something about me that isn't acceptable, but I'm not considered worthy to know what that is or is not. Perhaps this is the way all other corporate and banking institutional models operate too. Some are worthy clients and others are not. Are you Lord or Serf? Master or slave? Primary or Secondary?
All I can say is it is all very demoralizing. I felt like these institutions turned me into a total none entity. If you or a loved one has had a similar experience, I have great compassion for you. This dehumanizing corporate culture needs to hear from all of us that its protocol is totally unacceptable.