Thursday, June 02, 2011

What Your Credit Card Won't Let You buy

There is an article in the WSJ by the same title which talks about Am Ex and other credit card companies preventing people from using their cards to purchase medical marijuana. Here's a blurb
Companies say they're protecting themselves against legal risk, but critics say this kind of corporate policy is an inconvenience for merchants, infringes on consumers' rights and amounts to moral policy-setting. "You ought to be able to use a credit card for any legal purchase," says John M. Simpson from the non-profit Consumer Watchdog. "It seems to me that credit card companies are imposing their moral values on the world."
What I do not understand is Mr.Simpson's premise that its not ok for private companies to impose their moral values on the world. However individuals in governments constantly impose their moral codes on the public through legislation banning certain market transactions. How come that is ok? Why should a private company be coerced into a transaction it does not choose to participate in?  In this case rightly so, because they are not sure about the legal ramifications of such transactions.