The Widdershins

Activist Wednesday: Move Your Feet, Move Your Money!

Posted on: October 5, 2011

Watch Out, Wall Street!

If there’s one thing reading the book “Confidence Men” has emphasized for me, it’s how completely our government has been bought by Wall Street. The corruption has been going on for quite some time, but Obama really, truly had a chance to do something about the big banks being “too big to fail.” All he had to do was to accept the advice of the people who told him to break up the banks into “good” (capitalized correctly) and “bad” (under-capitalized massively due to derivatives fraud) institutions; sell off the toxic assets at discounted rates and let the profits go back to the government; protect the bondholders; re-regulate the industry by bringing back Glass-Steagall, and allow the “good” banks to start over under the new regulations, under national control at first, eventually going back to private institutions. Amongst those who used Paul Krugman’s shorthand to describe these options, this particular model was known as “Sweden.”

[ahem]

Okay, I realize that would have been a lot to do, but if anyone had the political capital to do it, it was Barack Obama. And the people telling him to do it were among the most respected names in the world of economics: Along with Paul Krugman, there was Paul Volcker, Joseph Stiglitz and Robert Reich, to name a few. There were also the ladies who have constantly called for re-regulation and predicted the current crisis when everyone was claiming the boom would go on for ten more years; Sheila Bair and Elizabeth Warren. Along with Senator Maria Cantwell and Christina Romer, they tried to rein in the crazy confidence men of Wall Street, but were easily discounted because, as Larry Summers so famously said, “Wimminz can’t do teh maths.” (I admit that was a bit of a paraphrase.) We know what happened – Obama went with the “B Team” and decided to continue to bail out the banks, apparently, forever.

We The People, the bottom 99%, are being drowned in the river of dollars flowing through Wall Street and Washington, wondering how we can end corporate personhood and get money out of politics. I feel like these days, however, we have some options for making our voices heard.

One way is to find a protest that speaks to you, and go. The Amazing Wisconsin Cheeseheads showed us how it was done, and now more and more anti-corporate groups are starting to get their feet in the street. From Occupy Wall Street to the Coffee Party to US Uncut to Move to Amend, stuff is happening right now – and chances are, there’s an event in a city near you.

Another way to do it is to attack those banks where it really hurts: Their wallets. As you’ve no doubt heard, Bank of America has decided, in the words of Andy Borowitz, to charge their debit card customers a “thank you fee” of $5 a month.

The largest banks in the US made history today by hiking fees on the same people who bailed out their asses three years ago.

“We would not exist today without the generosity of the American taxpayers,” said CEO Brian Moynihan of Bank of America, which received billions of dollars of Federal bailout money.  “And we want to thank them by assessing a special monthly ‘thank you’ fee on all of our debit cards.”

Becoming emotional, Mr. Moynihan added, “We think of the taxpayers every time we vacation on our yachts or visit our third homes, and we want them to think of us every time they try to spend $20 on groceries.”

Mr. Moynihan said that even after paying the  new $5 monthly fee, “American taxpayers should still have enough money left over to let them eat cake.”

In response to this, many people are deciding to move their money out of the big banks and try other options. This development should give the Move Your Money Project, around since 2009, a big boost; however, there are some other options you may not have considered.

Online banks: These so-called “direct banks” offer no-fee debit cards, and most will reimburse you for any fees charged by other banks when using their ATMs. A few of the players include Perkstreet, Ally, ING Direct, USAA, Charles Schwab, State Farm bank. Another option (that hasn’t even launched yet) called BankSimple is an intermediary company (not a bank) that partners with smaller banks to provide financial services. The main drawback with online banks are deposits. With no physical locations, checks have to be mailed in to be deposited. A few direct banks offer the ability to make digital deposits by endorsing and photographing a check.

Prepaid debit cards: This option bypasses banks altogether (well, pretty much). Companies such as Greendot and Netspend offer customers branded prepaid cards that are preloaded with cash and allow them to make cash withdrawals, pay bills and make purchases. It’s virtually impossible to be overdrawn on such accounts, so no overdraft fees. However, there are still activation fees and ATM fees on out-of-network machines.

Cash: Using cash only seems a bit old fashioned, but there are more people looking to this option. It may be a bit difficult to rent a car, but studies have found that people spend less if they use only cash. It’s easier to see exactly where and how your money is being spent. The process is a bit inconvenient, but some people swear by it. You may avoid overdraft fees and ATM fees, but also be prepared to pay check cashing fees. More than likely, you will need a prepaid debit card to pay some bills.

Interesting, no? I know one thing for sure, I’m not 100% sold on any of the groups above, and with my new job I have a very hard time getting out to march or protest anymore, so this is what I’m going to do right now.

The founder of the Coffee Party wrote this great piece about the Economic Bill of Rights from the Roosevelt Era. It’s amazing to go back to a time when we had real leaders and had not lost our way as a country. I hope that we are re-discovering that spirit now, and as always, I urge you to do what you can to try to make this country a place that values real people, not “corporate people,” once again.

This is an open thread.

34 Responses to "Activist Wednesday: Move Your Feet, Move Your Money!"

Please don’t forget Credit Unions Madamab…I will speak more on them later!!

I totally agree, Fuzzy….I thought most people knew about that option already. But if you go to that Move Your Money Project link, you will see lots of goodies, including a list of credit unions and smaller banks in your area.

A third option might be to use a regular bank and frustrate the crap out of them by not using the debit card. There are no ATM fees, so simply withdraw a certain amount of cash and replenish when spent.

@3 – Yup, that’s one of the ideas above…also the idea of a pre-paid debit card is very interesting to me. Had never heard of that one!

Wish I could move what little I have left to a credit union. Unfortunately, the ones in our area are very restrictive on who can join. You have to work at certain places to be able to join. Being disabled now for two years and not working- that option is not open for me.
Fortunately the bank I do use is not (yet) charging for debit card use. And three years ago, when they tried to impose fees, I went in to the local branch and they got my account grandfathered. We had opened it as a no fee no minimum balance account. I politely pointed that out and was all set to take every penny (and there is very little left) to another bank. Sometimes it pays to live in a small town I guess. I do keep an eye on them though. If they start charging fees – I am out of there the same day.

As someone who moves a lot, I have checked out credit unions but never gotten around to choosing one. Now that there are so many online banks, I can finally ditch Citibank for good. 👿 They are the bank that had the most toxic assets in 2008 when the TARP plan was being developed.

@5 – PMM – what about an online bank? See #6.

madamab- I am going to look into it- it kind of scares me- computer security and hacking issues aside. I want to be sure I can get cash in a hurry if need be- locally.

My bank was recently taken over–everything changed except the type of account (no fee) I have, because it’s grandfathered in. And my debit card is used only to withdraw cash at the bank ATM, so no fee there.

State credit union: we took out a car loan once and had payments automatically deducted from payroll. Then my husband went back to being 9-month faculty, and there was no summer paycheck to deduct from. I called immediately to see why autopay had not happened and got cussed out by the local manager, who said, “I told you last summer you had to make 3 months of payments by check.” Yeah–only I was not the person he had told, because my husband had been a 12-month employee the year before. I paid off that loan and never went back.

Not a fan of credit union here, especially as there was very slight reduction in interest rate.

A very interesting article on the police arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC.

http://tinyurl.com/6etfgh6

From the article: “Verheyden-Hilliard said the fact that the so-called warnings were videotaped shows premeditation. She added that the warnings were bad theater — police were speaking inaudibly into a bullhorn; they were for show only.”

@10 – I admit, I am not sold on the Occupy Wall Street protests or really any of them right now, for many reasons – one being that I am pretty sure they will end up being overtaken by Obamazoids (if they haven’t been already (I saw on the Coffee Party website a message from the founder stating that “Obama’s job speech tells us there are real solutions out there”…not good). Any movement that doesn’t recognize that Obama is not the solution, but one of the main problems (along with the bought-out Congress and Supreme Court of course) IMO does not have a chance in hell of succeeding. That is one thing I meant by saying “leave the Left behind” last week.

However, the police brutality towards the protesters is truly frightening and unforgivable. These people are being peaceful and stating their minds. They should not be thrown in jail for those “crimes.”

PMM have you considered Navy Federal or the Army Air Air Force Credit unions as a parent of a service member you would qualify…

@12 – Good point, Fuzzy!

@8 – PMM, security is definitely an issue. Couldn’t agree more. But I know with many of these online banks, they are on ATM networks like Cirrus or Star. So any place that has those ATMs, including your mom-and-pop deli in your small town, should be able to help you get quick cash.

@9 – Thanks for the input, molly. I have heard great things about credit unions, but there appear to be some clunkers in there as well. I suppose no method of “taking it to the streets” is ever perfect.

Are you guys following the march in NYC? We started a live blog. Supposedly it starts at 4:30, with lots of union members marching in solidarity with #OccupyWallSteet. Come join us!

http://skydancingblog.com/2011/10/05/live-blog-unions-join-occupywallstreet-for-march-in-nyc-today/

Madamab,

I’m still only half-way through Confidence Men, but the most shocking thing to me so far has been that Obama actually had the right instincts on a lot of issues, but his underlings just ignored him. He was making the “Sweden, not Japan” argument in meetings. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get Geithner and Summers to pay any attention to him, and he didn’t have the guts to either assert himself or fire them.

He’s pathetic, actually.

@15 – I agree!

I’m not sure his underlings ignored him, so much as they manipulated him. While I think Obama liked the idea of progressive or liberal change, he didn’t actually want to implement it. He was too afraid to completely restructure our financial system. He needed to be FDR, and he was a much less nice, noble and accomplished Hoover.

That is why Geithner and Bernanke (the B Team) were able to prevail over the A Team against Obama’s better instincts. Ultimately, the man has no courage. He only attacks those who are too weak to fight back. Wall Street would have been far too big a target for him. Remember FDR’s “I welcome their hatred,” referring to the banks! Obama can’t afford to do that; he’d lose his biggest donors!

Well, isn’t this an interesting idea. “Retroactive recusal” of Justice Thomas to overturn the “Citizens United” decision. I love it!

http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/david/rep-slaughter-calls-retroactive-recusal-just

OMG, Sarah Palin says she will not run for President!

In an unrelated story.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/latest-sarah-palin-speech-opens-sixth-seal,2917/

@18 – Ahem. Did I call it?

@18 – I just know Pat will be terribly disappointed. She loves Sarah so! 😉

@20: She’ll be crushed. Chis Christie and Sarah Palin in the same week. It’s almost too much to bear.

Here’s another thing you can do with credit unions. Mine is in New Orleans but I’m in AL. However…they have a thing called the Credit Union Service Center which has locations across the country. There is one here in AL so that allows me to go to this location and do any transactions that I could or would do at my local credit union. They have an ATM machine where you can withdraw money just as if you were at the c.u. Also cash checks, do deposits or whatever. Here’s the addy:

http://www.cuservicecenter.com/

This allows you to do any transactions you want from basically anywhere.

Went to the doc today and he’s putting me back on azithromycin and a steroid. It’s double the dose of the az from before so I hope it knocks this cr@p out this time!

Later folks.

That’s excellent, Fredster!

I sure hope you feel better. I sympathize. I have been feeling horrible since just after Labor Day and have yet to find anything that makes it better. It’s all from allergies, which end up causing bronchitis and sinus infections and tonsillitis because I just can’t breathe. It’s dreadful..

I think I’m going to try acupuncture. Nothing else seems to work.

I’m feeling a little blech myself. For a few days now. At first I thought it was the sudden change in the weather. But I feel a little feverish. My throat hurts. Stuffy nose. Actually, it could be the change in the weather. Blech.

@23, 24, &25: Add me to the poorly roster. The drippy nose is better, but I still feel as though I’Ve been hit by a bus.
The weather here has cooled down to 84.

Oh no, not Chat and DYB too!

Apparently everyone at hubby’s job is coughing and snurfling too. I’m convinced it’s super-pollen brought on by global warming. (Adjusts tin foil chapeau)

Speaking of weather, it’s going down to 44 tonight. But Sunday it will be 80 degrees. That’s totally normal, right? No such thing as climate change. (snark)

If so many people are feeling it – it’s some kind of allergies. Funny thing is I have never been allergic to pollen until this year. It sucks!

And these wild temperature changes are NOT helping!

Chat and Fredster – feel better!

@29 – That’s what I think too, D. This is primo allergy season. I didn’t feel it until the weather changed after Labor Day, so that is a bit of a clue as well.

I’ll let you all know if the acupuncture works. It worked for hubby when nothing else did.

Looks like the police are beating the protesters with batons now, along with the pepper spray and arrests. Just wonderful!

http://occupywallst.org/article/reports-pepper-spray/

It’s like the Vietnam war protests all over again.

@31: Yes. I’m having flashbacks.

MB@24: You have to belong to a credit union that participates in that cuservicecenter thing. My credit union joined that after Katrina and I think it was because so many people were in different locations after the storm. Also, a lot of employees took early retirement and weren’t really close to the office in N.O. East.

Regarding the allergies/sinuses or whatever. When I was walking back to the doctor’s office it sounded like a damned tubercular ward with all of the hacking and stuff. There are 5 doctors there and I think every one of them had patients who were wheezing, hacking, sniffling and the rest!

DYB@29: Thanks! I’ll start the steroids tomorrow because it something like take 2 before breakfast, 2 before or after lunch, the same dinner and then at bedtime the first day. Then the doses go down.

You *can* double up the doses if you want but it will wire you up like crazy!

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