by Max Brantley
That headline is not a joke.
* Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner — whose campaign finance reports were a disaster just for starters and who's raised a number of questions about her handling of state investments.
* VISA — a credit card company. Tens of thousands of Arkansas families owe perilous or ruined finances to the predatory effects of credit cards. It's also worth mentioning the credit card companies' purchase of Congress to make sure, whatever else happened, ruined families would have to go through hell to discharge plastic card debt in bankruptcy.
The gimmick is described as an "NFL themed educational video game and classroom curriculum" known as Financial Football.
Shoffner and VISA will be joined by an NFL quarterback Christian Ponder for the media event next week. Perhaps Shoffner will answer some questions about her campaign and personal finances that she's been reluctant to field. Maybe VISA also can tell us how much the outfit spent to lobby Congress on bankruptcy "reform." I presume someone in the Education Department gave Shoffner the go-ahead to roll out this new offering, rich next week in VISA and NFL branding into public schools? Right?
Call me cynical. As much as kids can use sound financial training, the key players here sound too much like Newt Gingrich coming to town to promote a course on successful marriage.
UPDATE: VISA is unhappy with my lumping them in with interest rates, consumer debt and all the rest. It's the banks that do that; credit card companies merely extract a fee from merchants for use of their cards. It is but a network, they insist. To blame them for financial problems is like blaming FedEx for the quality of goods the delivery company delivers, a spokesman told me. The financial game is just good corporate citizenship to encourage better habits among kids, a spokesman says. Even if I were to grant the innocence of credit card companies in personal financial disasters (I don't), there's still an old saying that applies. Lie down with dogs ....
Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Christian Ponder, State Treasurer Shoffner and Visa Inc. Collaborate to Launch Statewide Rollout of Financial Football
Financial Education Video Game to Help Arkansas Students Score Financial Touchdowns
On Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 10:00 a.m., Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Christian Ponder, Arkansas State Treasurer Martha Shoffner and Visa Inc. will be at the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock for the statewide launch of an educational video game and classroom curriculum called Financial Football. They will be joined by 40-50 high school students from four Little Rock area high schools who will compete as two teams in a demonstration of Financial Football. The students playing are from Bauxite High School, Hall High School, Mills High School, and Robinson High School.
The centerpiece of Visa’s nationwide educational initiative with the NFL and NFL PLAYERS, Financial Football helps students and adults tackle their financial futures. The game incorporates lessons taught through Practical Money Skills for Life (www.practicalmoneyskills.com), a free, award-winning money management program. This game is accompanied by a classroom curriculum and is being distributed by Treasurer Shoffner’s office to every public middle and high school in the state of Arkansas.
Christian Ponder, Quarterback, Minnesota Vikings
The Honorable Martha Shoffner, Arkansas State Treasurer
Sofia Mata-Leclerc, Corporate Relations, Visa Inc.
40-50 High School students from four Arkansas area high schools
Vikings’ Quarterback Christian Ponder joins Treasurer Martha Shoffner and Visa for the statewide launch of Financial Football.
As part of this event, Ponder and Shoffner will coach the students in a high energy game of Financial Football.
Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.
Arkansas State Capitol Building, Legislative Committee Room 149