There is something positively delicious about that fact the moxie of a California woman and 400,000 Social Media connections are doing what President Obama, Federal regulators and Congress cannot: holding the big banks accountable for creating the economic collapse.
Kristen Christian decided enough was enough when Bank of America announced plans to punish consumers who use their debit cards to make purchases. She created a Facebook page and encouraged fed up consumers to pull their money out of big banks on or before November 5th. She advocates doing business with locally operated financial institutions such as community banks or credit unions.
Nearly 70,000 people said “OK” and her invitation has been shared amongst Facebook fans nearly 400,000 times.
“Occupy Wall Street” hasn't had the same impact. I have yet to see any media reports putting a human face on who is participating or really why; most of the coverage focuses on how many have been arrested and how taxpayers will clean up the poop when it's over.
“Bank Transfer Day” is better thought out. We understand the frustration and we know what we can do about it. Credit unions are reporting so much new account activity, many are expanding their hours leading up to November 5th.
Now the big banks are “reconsidering” the debit card charges. Do you believe them? To me, it's like believing a drug addict who promises to quit. Or the cheating spouse who wants “one more chance.” The big banks had many more chances.
First there was the big bailout. How did they spend their T.A.R.P. funds? Then there was the loan modification program. That worked (not!). Now the administration has announced a new plan to help homeowners whose mortgages are underwater. As far as I can tell, it benefits only those with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backed mortgages – and let's see if it even works for them! There are no programs and there is no forgiveness for those of us who got loans we could afford, but have since seen our property values plunge.
“Accountability has been mostly A.W.O.L. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis,” reported The New York Times, the newspaper the media haters love to brand “liberal.” A column in Sunday's paper notes that the plan to hold financial institutions accountable for foreclosure misconduct, isn't expected to sting them much.
I grew up believing after the mistakes of the Great Depression, an economic downfall would not be likely. All of the checks and balances, the safeguards, the regulation, the trust, the systems put into place to allow Americans to earn and save – it's mostly broken.
So I applaud the actions of a single person who took her frustration to social media and invited Americans to participate in Bank Transfer Day. It's got the big banks in retreat and that is as good as it gets.