John Colson: Hit and Run
Aspen Times Weekly
Aspen, CO Colorado
And the ball rolls along.
Tens of thousands of frustrated U.S. citizens have, since the end of September, closed their accounts at the bigger banks and put their money into either smaller, regional banking networks or credit unions.
The number was set at 70,000 as of 11/11/11, which may not seem like all that many people, given our population of 312 million and counting.
But the fact is that the number of account closures probably has climbed since I read about it last week, and in fact probably has climbed since I put the first words down for this column.
Actually, given the fact that I have an early deadline and you will read this on Nov. 17, four days after I’ve written it, I have no idea what the number might be as these words pass through your eyes and into your cerebral cortex.
But I’ll bet good money that the number has not dropped.
Which is why the banks are freaked out, going so far as to have people arrested for trying to close their accounts.
What, you don’t believe it?
Check out the Daily Kos news website, then. Huffington Post has covered the story, ABC News called it a “bank revolt,” and put the number of fleeing depositors at closer to a million.
People are pissed off, and the groundswell of anger is finally beginning to point right where it should point – the culture of greed on Wall Street and in the board rooms of the big banks, which so recently brought the nation’s economy to its knees and which continues to treat customers as serfs.
The Occupy Everywhere movement has been the public face of this anger, growing exponentially around the globe despite being either ignored or belittled by the mainstream media.
The Bank Transfer movement that has joined with the Occupiers, though, is hitting corporate America right where it can feel the pain. I’m talking the pocketbook here, which truly should be viewed as the gonads of every corporation.
Watching the drama play out on the Daily Kos videos, I was intrigued to note that in some places, cops declined to arrest people when called by the banks. One cop was even quoted as telling a banker to lay off the phone calls for help unless there is some real need for it.
Not in New York, of course, where the cops seem to feel quite comfortable in their role of enforcers for the power elite.
I’ll tell you what, though. I’m investigating the possibility of pulling my account out of my long-time bank, Community Banks of Colorado. Not that they have treated me badly or anything. In fact, the opposite is true. Community Banks has been good to me.
Unfortunately, it is now controlled by a receiver out of Kansas City, Mo., and I can no longer trust to the relatively benign influence of the people who once ran the local branches, people I knew.
And since I do not trust the banking industry in general any further than I could throw an overweight bank executive, suffice it to say I’m looking for a place to move to.
Not that my accounts will make that much of a difference to the holding company. I’m a low-paid journalist living a paycheck-to-paycheck existence, and the amount of money in my checking account at any given time is paltry, indeed. As for a savings account, I’m lucky if it contains more than a few hundred bucks these days, and that’s just desperation banking to have something on hand when the annual tax bills come due.
So, my bank can shrug me off like a gnat.
But if there are a thousand people in my situation who decide to pull out, that makes a difference, and banks know it.
Which is why Citibank and BOA both have been frantically downplaying the movement, even as they go to extraordinary lengths to keep people from closing accounts.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the banks call for martial law to be declared if this continues.
According to the Daily Kos report, the bankers were out $60 billion in deposits as of 11/11/11.
And that was nearly a week ago.
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A driver looking to squeeze one last four-wheel drive up Aspen Mountain discovered that it’s not the ascent but the descent that poses a challenge.