Sunday, March 22, 2009

There may not be that much we can do about The Great American Swindle

but perhaps there are some steps that as individuals we can take. Let's face it - there wasn't going to be much difference between an Obama-led regime or a McCain-led regime with regard to the present economic straits. It really wouldn't have mattered a great deal if the make up of Congress were Democratic or Republican majorities. The players inside the Beltway are attached at the hip with this generation's Wall Street robber barons. The transfer of wealth to Wall Street at the expense of the rest of us was bound to be attempted one way or another - the amounts might have been a bit different, the rhetoric might have varied a bit, but at the end of the day the rest of us are supposed to be screwed. So, what to do? How about try something that my household has been doing since the start of the decade - transfer your accounts (checking, savings, CDs, etc.) from the large banking conglomerates, such as BofA, Citi, etc., to local or regional banks. These large behemoths which are being propped up on taxpayer funds deserve to be slain once and for all. A critical mass of customers voting with their feet would make the point better than angry blog posts, fake tomatoes thrown at banking execs on some partisan organization's website, or just doing nothing but knocking back a few beers.

In our case the initial decision to go local was merely a practical one - the nearest branch of any of the big conglomerates to my town is about 60 miles away, and there are plenty of times in which one wants to be able to consult with a real live human being about financial matters rather than merely do everything via the internet. The service we receive is better than anything that I've ever experienced, whatever fees the local bank has are well-below what the big banks charge, and the bank's been thriving even in these tough times. So yes, I'm seconding Lindorff's proposal of a bank run of sorts - a run from the conglomerates that have been gambling with their customers' savings like a bunch of drunken vacationers in Vegas and to banks that are more in touch with their localities. That's precisely the sort of bank run that would - while doing in the conglomerates once and for all - set the stage for a healthier economy. That's some hope I'll take to the bank.

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