Do you remember your first banking experience? I recall pedaling my two-speed J.C. Higgins bicycle to the Fernandina Beach, Florida, savings and loan association one Saturday morning. I had saved 5 dollars from a month of mowing lawns, washing windows and 25-cents-a-week allowance. At the bank, a friendly lady who knew my family wrote my laboriously earned cash deposit by hand, in ink, into a passbook. I was so proud.
Today, we rarely even write checks, and I am convinced that before my children are my age, cash will be a thing of the past. I rarely visit the nearest branch of the bank my wife and I use. Some income is electronically deposited. As for the rare paper check, well, I can simply photograph and deposit it with an app.
I would not consider riding a bicycle through city traffic to our branch bank any more than I would growing wings and flying there. In fact, I have now changed banks, and I believe that you should consider reviewing your banking needs.
Back in the day, when banks were locally owned, they operated under a different set of rules, regulations and philosophies than do today’s banks. They actually served and were part of their community. Residents knew the president and, sometimes, the owners. The loan officer was our neighbor. This is either very rare or no longer true.
These days, banks are immense international conglomerates and Wall Street sock puppets. No one owns them, or at least no one will ever meet them. Go to a bank and ask for assistance, and then pay attention closely. The employee will spend more time staring at a computer screen than looking at or listening to you. These are the people who crashed America’s housing market, bringing the economy to its knees in 2008. They cut your home value in half. They crushed your retirement. They give you zero interest on your lifetime savings. They complain about over-regulation, all the while causing you to justify, explain and beg. They were the criminals, but you get punished. After your visit, you might come to the understanding that the banking and financial (not to mention political) system is rigged.
This is the day of the corporate voice. Corporations feel they have a right — a responsibility — to chime in on social issues. Bank of America, my former bank, has joined that parade. Vice chairman Anne Finucane announced to Bloomberg Television that companies that manufacture “military-style firearms” for use outside the military will no longer be able to receive loans. “We want to contribute in any way we can to reduce these mass shootings. I mean … it’s such a tragedy in the United States, so that’s number one,” she said.
The usual suspects praised Bank of America’s decision. A Brady Campaign statement said, “We were heartened to see Bank of America join the list of companies stepping up to keep America safe. … The gun violence epidemic in this country is a uniquely American problem and it’s encouraging to see America’s corporate giants take a leading role in this fight.” The statement suggested that banks should stop lending to America’s “65,000 gun retailers” to force the industry to “act responsibly and help keep guns out of the hands of people who have been barred from having them for the past 50 years.”
You know what’s coming. Go in for a loan or open an account, and some corporate, replaceable-part loan officer will ask, “Do you have guns in the house?” If you answer yes and explain that gun ownership is a constitutionally protected right (or if you refuse to answer), they will turn down the loan, refuse to open your account and ask you to leave the premises. They will whine, “Oh, it’s not me. I’m required to do this.”
Time to man up, friends. There may not be much we can do against international mega-corporations like Bank of America with their 67 million U.S. clients, but if we the people do not squeak in protest, it will just get worse. My family has found a new bank (not that our accounts will affect their bottom line). If you are a Bank of America or Citigroup customer, I believe you should as well.
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