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The Texas OBSERVER The Texas Observer Publishing Co., 1977 Ronnie Dugger. Publisher Vol. 69, No. 20 October 21, 1977 Incorporating the State . Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the Austin Forum-Advocate. EDITOR Jim Hightower MANAGING EDITOR Lawrence Walsh ASSOCIATE EDITOR Laura Richardson EDITOR AT LARGE Ronnie Dugger PRODUCTION MANAGER: Lois Rankin ASSISTANT EDITORS: Colin Hunter, Linda Rocawich, Susan Reid STAFF ASSISTANTS: Vicki Vaughan, Bob Sindermann, Margaret Watson, David Brinn, Chris Hearne, Kathy Tally, Debi Pomeroy, Teresa Acosta, Mark Richardson, Eric Hartman, Tim Mahoney, David Guarino, Cathy Stevens CONTRIBUTORS: Kaye Northcott, Jo Clifton, Dave McNeely, Wade Roberts, Don . Gardner, Warren Burnett, Rod Davis, Steve Rus-. sell, Paul Sweeney, Marshall Breger, Jack Hopper, Stanley Walker, Joe Frantz, Ray Reece, Laura Eisenhour, Dan Hubig, Ben Sargent, Berke Breathed, Eje Wray, Luther Sperberg, Roy Hamric, Tom Bleich, Mark Stinson, Ave Bonar, Jeff Danziger BUSINESS STAFF: Cliff Olofson, Alice Embree, Ricky Cruz A journal of free voices We will serve no group or, party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer. None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with him. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have hot themselves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily imply that he agrees with them because this is a journal of free voices. Published by Texas Observer Publishing Co., biweekly except for a three-week interval between issues twice a year, in January and July; 25 issues per year. Second-class postage paid at Austin, Texas. Publication no. 541300. years, $30. Foreign, except APO/FPO, $1 additional per year. Airmail, bulk orders, and group rates on request. Microfilmed by Microfilming Corporation of America, 21 Harristown Road. Glen Rock, N.J. 07452. Editorial and Business Offices: 7\(4314..’T The Texas Observer 600 West 7th Street Austin, Texas 78701 512-477-0746 Vote no on Amendment 6 Austin The state’s big bankers want you to do something for them Nov. 8. They’d like you to okay a little constitutional amendment that they persuaded the Legislature to tack on to this fall’s. business with the help of “electronic fund transfer systems.” This is your chance to tell a banker “no,” and the Observer urges you not to muff it. The introduction of these gadgets to the commercial life of Texas involves a lot more than simply rewording our archaic constitutional document to let bankers use the latest bookkeeping hardware. What the amendment would really amount to if approved next month is a device to achieve something far less innocent, as shall be seen. A careless Legislature put the parent measure, SJR 49 \(sponsored by Dallas Republican Sen. Ike preciation of its long-run consequences. Now it’s coming to a popular vote with no one doing much to let voters know what adoption of Amendment 6 would mean. In essence, EFTS will computerize our monetary system and lead us pell-mell into a cashless and checkless society in which money transfers would be made electronically, with everyone joining in the fun by carrying plastic, magnetically encoded bank cards. In the perfect world of EFTS, wages wouldn’t show up in a pay envelope, but instead be transmitted as digits directly into a worker’s bank account. Payment of monthly bills would be done instantly from one’s bank, with remittances being shifted electronically into creditors’ accounts. Cash would become obsolete at the grocery store, since computers there would tie into bank terminals to transfer purchase amounts from buyers’ accounts to the store’s. For the cash that shoppers might occasionally need, money dispensers installed in high-volume commercial locations would see to the job. All of these transactions would be initiated outside of bank buildings; in Texas, it is this matter of location that has brought the constitutional amendment process into play. Because the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that these scattered terminals effectively function as “banks,” their operation would thus violate the state’s prohibition of branch banking. So what the bankers are asking you to do with your vote for Amendment 6 is exempt their terminals from the constitutional ban. Proponents of electronic banking argue that it will greatly increase efficiency by eliminating the expense and time required for processing checks. They claim that widespread EFTS use could cut the current 30-cents-per-check processing cost to something just over a nickel a transaction. Sounds good, achieve savings anywhere near that, and, as will be discussed later, the banking public has shown no inclination to patronize installation of EFTS equipment would require a massive outlay immediate likelihood of an increase even if long-run ,savings were realized by the industry, there is no reason to think that bankers would give customers a break on service charges.