[Cross-posted at The Left Coaster.]
The paradox of thrift was ruthlessly enforced by Jane Bryant Quinn last night on the Lehrer News Hour, guiding consumers to budget, save, diminish expectations and be thrifty, simultaneously gutting the most potent spending element in the US economy. It’s very old news to this household with no credit card debt, no car payments, no movies or restaurants, no American alive has more faith than fear in the future right now and my little house will be in this thrifty groove for a long, long time.
It almost defies belief, but my lifetime bank, Bank of America--started so long ago by a Norcal Italian immigrant fanatically dedicated to serving little people--is busted. The stock market wants answers, now, and not providing the plain truth is very much an answer in itself, which the stock price reflects starkly. B of A is busted, desperately pushing every DC lobbyist button it can from being taken over to keep all the bazillionaire big shots running and investing in the bank from becoming even smaller people than I am (the horrors, the horrors).
The bank is not in imminent danger of being a USS Oklahoma capsized wreck anytime soon, alleged federal regulators calmly say, depositors haven’t shown any lack of confidence in B of A so far. Meaning fear hasn’t voraciously spread to little people depositors about the safety of their cash, forcing them to withdraw all their money before it’s too late. Lying and cooked books will keep a bank around for a long time, but a depositor run will smash it down in a week, the feds won’t "favor" taking over B of A but they’ll be irrevocably forced to if a run starts. Oh capitalism, we done you so wrong.
Our insipid watchdogs over the reeking wreck of our banking and finance system better snap out of their sickening complacency fast. There’s nothing to stop me from shutting down all my B of A accounts now, today, to some small regional bank or credit union, start writing and mailing checks for bills again, reflection on the twofer my little house pulled off in bringing us all down to follow.
Fear has nothing to do with it. The run—if it comes—will be driven by fear in almost all other cases, but in my scenario a simple fact exists I hope our dear bankers and alleged federal regulators learn and know with a nuclear clarity: I’ve totally, completely had it with liars and cheaters in this enraging game of banking funny money, I should crisp my B of A accounts on the simple principle I don’t enable crooks and liars.
Shockingly, I don’t want to pay a hefty federal tax bill this year. My love of country is deep and fierce, my past pride in one of the best governments on earth always bestowing a happy acceptance to writing the check, but after trillions have been squirrelly pledged to banks on the sly, hundreds of billions given away only to be passed on to well-off investors—along with skyrocketing borrowing, tax cuts (!) and two wars--well, maybe it’s time for this relationship to end. You know? Tough times are one thing, stealing and lying for crooks in fantasy land quite another.
Faith, confidence and trust, the ancient public school monetary lessons taught us, such is the trifecta of human consciousness that keeps the mighty invincible heart of US capitalism beating so vibrantly. No wonder the place has gone to hell.
No, my little house won’t pull off its own hat trick of economic darts to stiff the Feds in April, respect for the law and public good still mean something this household, even if our banking and regulatory officials are too dense, obtuse and greedy to live it like Americans themselves. In purely good faith and reason other good, decent American families will not be so patient, rightly so, and if the Feds think they’ve got diminished tax revenue issues now just wait until they experience getting stiffed in various ways by citizens who simply will not put up with it anymore, faith and trust cannot be abused forever. My patience in this matter is not infinite either, not by a long shot.
I’ve got a message for our banking industry and DC monetary officials, and I fervently hope with all my soul it gets through: you’re playing with fire. It’s smoldering fiercely everywhere, and if a bank run starts on B of A everyone will finally have to acknowledge golly gee, the place really is going up in flames. Level with the American people with crystal clarity honesty what happened, what banks are busted, and what has to be done. Not what the freak you’d favor to do, but action firmly grounded in fair reality.
Americans don’t want our system to go down, but they’ll torch it if they don’t hear the truth, faith and trust can’t live without it. There is no more time or options, get real or take the country down even farther.