Tuesday, November 01, 2011

One of the Things the OWS Crowd is Protesting

People often ask, on various forums I visit, what the hell the Occupy Wall Street crowd actually wants? Those people are used to specific demands: Better pay, less hours, no more sexual advances from bosses and so forth. And the Wall Street occupiers are not always vocally adept at explaining what the problem is. But I'll tell you what the problem is, at least in small part. It was about banks, being told they were making too much off credit card and debit card swipes that stores had to give up to them, deciding to charge people for using debit cards to access their own money. These are banks that are not paying a penny on the billions of dollars in checking accounts they regularly loan for good interest. So they make money on your interest, and then they decided to charge people for using their cards to get their money. Well, with enough of a spot light on them, Bank of America, and a couple of others, decided to table that fee at this time. Let's be honest: They won't lose sleep over losing a couple of billion in lost fees to stores for the right to use debit cards. Because there would be many many more billions lost if people didn't shop with debit cards--and go overdraft at $35-$39 per.
Then some people ask "Show me a banker who committed fraud. You guys want to put bankers and Wall Street bigwigs in jail, but for what? Show me the crime!"
And the easiest answer is Wachovia, recently eaten by Wells Fargo. Between 2003 or 2004 (and I will look it up if you challenge me because I've written about this in 10 freaking places) and 2007 or 2008, Wachovia admitted not putting anti-money-laundering processes in place. Which means what? It means that in those four years, whenever they started and ended, Wachovia accepted, from Mexico, $374 or so BILLION dollars into the United States. Now, let's be honest: Does anybody think that the poor farmers and malquiladora workers in Mexico were sending more than 1/3 TRILLION dollars into the US to help support their illegal relatives who made it here?
I didn't think so.
So what was that money?
Well, it turned out that that money, $374 or so BILLION dollars, about One Hundred Billion dollars a year, was being sent by mom and pop money senders in Mexico to Wachovia--which charged a fee to accept it, of course.
That was all drug money. ALL OF IT. Not one penny has ever been sent from Mexico to the US from family to family legally. Money gets sent from Mexican workers in the US to Mexico, not the other way around.
And Wachovia admitted they ignored the anti-money-laundering rules to make a profit. And then they paid a total of $178 or so Million for the transgression, without anyone going to jail for the $374 billion in laundered money.
That's the kind of greed the OWS and me and a lot of you are protesting. If I sold five books on paypal and customers didn't get them I'd go to jail for interstate fraud. Launder, and admit you laundered, $374 BILLION dollars for the drug cartels and get fined $178 or so million.
That's corporate greed. That's tactile. That money would have fed everyone in the world for 10 freaking years.
And then there's the hot story on Huffington Post today, explaining that since the US govt decided to give people on unemployment and other worker or government subsidized programs (I say that because I hate when people refer to Social Security or Medicaid or unemployment as a government hand out when we pay weekly for those) their due monies on debit cards that are recharged monthly, banks are charging people to use them. Which means if say, you work for $500 a week, and then get laid off and then get maybe $250 a week in unemployment insurance that you paid for--along with your boss, nothing from government--and you make more than 4 transactions per month (Mortgage, car, electric, water, insurance, is five, and most people have double that), the bank might take $1.50 to $3 per additional use. The bank already is earning interest on the money put into your account which earns no interest. They got theirs. And nobody is gonna begrudge them that.
But charging you to access that money--which costs nothing, effectively, and which has already earned them interest--is a freaking rip off. And anybody who denies that is a liar.
So that's what OWS and ME are angry about. I'm angry about banks that put through the largest bills first and then tell you your 8 small charges were overdrawn, and it's gonna cost you $39 each. That's not banking. That's not loan sharking. That's beyond the pale of human decency.
So the next time somebody asks you: What the hell are the freaking Occupy Wall Street scum after, give them a copy of this post for a start. Cause this is the very basic root: Greed beyond the ken. Greed beyond belief.


Unknown said...

Peter, I think you are preaching to the choir. Although, I'd like to see links to your articles regarding this mess so that I might forward them.


Morgan said...

Choir, maybe. But after being away for over a month, with out "news" and catching up on all this Occupying... not quite sure what to make of it. Thanks for the overview Peter.

Rebekah said...
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