Ukiah Occupied — Sunday 10/16/11
Move Your Money Movement Having a Revival
From DAVID DAVEN
After passively accepting ever-increasing mistreatment from big banks, activists, community groups and even some politicians are jumping aboard a broad, multi-stage “move your money” campaign designed to transfer bank deposits into community banks and credit unions.
The twin inspirations for this have been the Occupy Wall Street movement and its focus on the lords of finance, and Bank of America’s announcement of a $5 monthly debit card fee, charging customers to use their own money. The latter in particular has sparked a great deal of activity. A petition to Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan asking him to reverse the decision has over 223,000 signatures on the site Change.org. And House Democrats have asked Attorney General Holder to begin an investigation into whether big banks violated antitrust laws by colluding with one another over increased fees after the implementation of swipe fee reform from Dodd-Frank.
But many are bypassing the idea of getting BofA or other banks to reverse its fees and moving directly to encouraging customers to move their money. Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) introduced a bill that makes the process of moving money simpler, and bans all exit fees on the customer for transferring out of a bank. The idea is to fight gouging with competition, and to make the ability to move money frictionless.
This policy-level reform proposal can also help remind people that they have a choice in banking. And activists have picked up that mantle. A Facebook campaign has turned November 5 into bank transfer day.
Bank Transfer Day was started by a 27-year-old Los Angeles art-gallery owner, Kristen Christian. She says she’s not affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street protesters but that many organizers of those demonstrations had reached out to her to express support.
Christian chose Nov. 5 because of its association with 17th century British folk hero Guy Fawkes, who tried to blow up the House of Lords but was captured on that date in 1605. In an interview with the Village Voice, however, Christian and Occupy Wall Street leaders who discussed the effort to get Americans to move their money from large banks to small institutions emphasized that they weren’t trying to create a collapse of the financial system. ”I’ve been very careful to state that this is not … anarchy,” Christian told the Voice. “It’s shifting the money to a company people respect the practices of. It’s like, if you don’t like Walmart’s practices, shopping at a local grocery store instead.”
There’s no denying the populist appeal the movement has garnered: as of Sunday afternoon, about 14,000 Facebook users had RSVP’d to the event, and numerous other pages had been set up in support of the concept. But while plenty of people may like the idea of switching banks to avoid extra fees, moving the foundation of their financial life takes not only dedication but also time (a few weeks at minimum) and a fair amount of tedious paperwork.
The numbers have jumped since that article went to press: it’s now at 36,000 attendees. And that’s without any coordinated help from more established activist groups, which is on the way in the coming weeks. The time and paperwork aspect as a barrier to entry is the problem Miller is trying to solve, but I have a feeling there’s a certain determination behind the frustration that inspired and energized this effort.
And it’s not just individuals who are moving their money; it’s city and county governments, and large organizations with big bank accounts:
In San Jose on Wednesday, unhappy customers were striking back at bank bottom lines.
Standing near the altar of the Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Father Eduardo Samaniego announced that the East Side parish is moving its $3 million account with Bank of America, where the church has done business for at least 20 years, to a community credit union.
“We are in a holy place to do holy work,” the Jesuit priest told 17 others members affiliated with People Acting In Community Together who stood alongside him. Some held posters that read “Keep Families In Their Homes” or “Stop Corporate Greed,” and several made similar announcements about divesting their own personal bank accounts from big banks involved in foreclosures into community banks or credit unions that were not.
San Jose has been ground zero for these efforts. The city moved nearly 1 billion out of Bank of America, specifically because of their poor track record on foreclosures. The county is poised to follow suit.
The Move Your Money project didn’t totally take off when Arianna Huffington established it after the financial crisis. It’s starting to have a revival.
Now if we can only get politicians to refuse to accept bank money, too…
November 5th 2011
• Contact Bank Transfer Day
See also ‘Occupy Santa Rosa’ protesters vow to stay at City Hall
…and Everybody Look What’s Going Down
…and Bloomberg Vs. Occupy
…and from Chris Hedges: A Movement Too Big To Fail
[…] The Occupy Wall Street movement, like all radical movements, has obliterated the narrow political parameters. It proposes something new. It will not make concessions with corrupt systems of corporate power. It holds fast to moral imperatives regardless of the cost. It confronts authority out of a sense of responsibility. It is not interested in formal positions of power. It is not seeking office. It is not trying to get people to vote. It has no resources. It can’t carry suitcases of money to congressional offices or run millions of dollars of advertisements. All it can do is ask us to use our bodies and voices, often at personal risk, to fight back. It has no other way of defying the corporate state. This rebellion creates a real community instead of a managed or virtual one. It affirms our dignity. It permits us to become free and independent human beings…
King called at the end of his life for massive federal funds to rebuild inner cities, what he called “a radical redistribution of economic and political power,” a complete restructuring of “the architecture of American society.” He grasped that the inequities of capitalism had become the instrument by which the poor would always remain poor. “Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism,” King said, “but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God’s children.” On the eve of King’s murder he was preparing to organize a poor people’s march on Washington, D.C., designed to cause “major, massive dislocations,” a nonviolent demand by the poor, including the white underclass, for a system of economic equality. It would be 43 years before his vision was realized by an eclectic group of protesters who gathered before the gates of Wall Street…
There is more reality expressed about the American experience by the debt-burdened young men and women protesting in the parks than by all the chatter of the well-paid pundits and experts that pollutes the airwaves…
What kind of nation is it that spends far more to kill enemy combatants and Afghan and Iraqi civilians than it does to help its own citizens who live below the poverty line? What kind of nation is it that permits corporations to hold sick children hostage while their parents frantically bankrupt themselves to save their sons and daughters? What kind of nation is it that tosses its mentally ill onto urban heating grates? What kind of nation is it that abandons its unemployed while it loots its treasury on behalf of speculators? What kind of nation is it that ignores due process to torture and assassinate its own citizens? What kind of nation is it that refuses to halt the destruction of the ecosystem by the fossil fuel industry, dooming our children and our children’s children?…
All hope lies now with those in the street… The corporate state forced the liberal class to join in the nation’s death march that began with the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Liberals such as Bill Clinton, for corporate money, accelerated the dismantling of our manufacturing base, the gutting of our regulatory agencies, the destruction of our social service programs and the empowerment of speculators who have trashed our economy.
corporations are not concerned with the common good. They exploit, pollute, impoverish, repress, kill and lie to make money. They throw poor families out of homes, let the uninsured die, wage useless wars to make profits, poison and pollute the ecosystem, slash social assistance programs, gut public education, trash the global economy, plunder the U.S. Treasury and crush all popular movements that seek justice for working men and women. They worship money and power. And, as Marx knew, unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force that consumes greater and greater numbers of human lives until it finally consumes itself. The dead zonein the Gulf of Mexico is the perfect metaphor for the corporate state. It is part of the same nightmare experienced in postindustrial mill towns of New England and the abandoned steel mills of Ohio. It is a nightmare that Iraqis, Pakistanis and Afghans, living in terror and mourning their dead, endure daily.
What took place early Friday morning in Zuccotti Park was the first salvo in a long struggle for justice. It signaled a step backward by the corporate state in the face of popular pressure. And it was carried out by ordinary men and women who sleep at night on concrete, get soaked in rainstorms, eat donated food and have nothing as weapons but their dignity, resilience and courage. It is they, and they alone, who hold out the possibility of salvation. And if we join them we might have a chance.