November 5th was Bank Transfer Day. Tens of thousands of people pledged to close their accounts in big Wall Street banks on that day and make the switch to small local banks or credit unions. Based on the amount of media attention this event received, it appears to have been a successful strategy.
Now the movement continues with Move Your Money Mondays. The idea is to make Monday the day of the week -- every week from now on -- for anyone who wants to close their bank account as a matter of principle.
The big banks were hoping that Bank Transfer Day would be a one-time thing. We can't let that happen. Just like the Occupy Wall Street movement is based on the idea of continuous, unending action until our nation's socioeconomic system is radically changed, the Move Your Money movement needs to adopt a similar strategy of remaining visible and relentless until the "big four" banks -- Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo -- are shrunken down to a size that will no longer be an oligarchic threat to the economy and our democracy.
Last week I introduced the idea of Move Your Money Mondays here on Daily Kos. At that point, it was just an idea with a rudimentary website and I had no idea if it would catch on. Since then, all the signs are good that Move Your Money Mondays will catch on and could become a crucial next phase in the Move Your Money movement.
Around the same time that I began posting about Move Your Money Mondays, marvinborg's courageous action and inspiring story of handing out flyers in front of a bank went viral. Since then his flyer has been mentioned on CNN and he has inspired others to take similar actions.
Marvin is now promoting the idea of Move Your Money Mondays as a followup action to Bank Transfer Day. And thanks to his smart thinking, #MYMM is not just about getting people to close their bank accounts on a Monday, but also a leafletting campaign every Monday from now on in front of banks nationwide. Here's a new flyer you can download and use -- or make your own.
I want to talk briefly about the connection with Occupy Wall Street. It seems to me that the main goal of #OWS is to reduce the power of big financial corporations that caused a global recession and are destroying the middle class and corrupting politicians. Although the various people involved in the Occupy movement don't necessarily agree on specific details about politics and government, there is a solid agreement about the main problem in our society: too few people and institutions controlling too much money, and using that money to buy influence to enrich themselves more and more at the expense of everyone else.
If this is what the movement is about, then we need to be looking for strategies for how to change the terrible problem we all can see. Some people think politics is the answer, but I have come to the view that the people themselves are more likely to produce change rather than any politicians we might elect. Ongoing, visible activism and the steady drip, drip, drip of more and more people taking actions in their own life to reduce the power of Wall Street is the way to win!
In summary: Move Your Money Mondays need to become just as much of a thorn in the side of the financial establishment as the people camping out in tents in our nation's cities.
40% of all deposits in America are held by only four banks: Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo. That means that these four companies have a HUGE amount of power to buy off any politicians they want. Although this means that a political approach would likely be ineffective, it also means that targeting these four banks for systematic, weekly account closures by more and more people -- first thousands, then tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions -- could produce HUGE changes in our nation's banking system and the economy. It just depends on getting enough people to walk into their local branch and utter four magic words: "Please close my account."
Will millions of Americans ever do that? I believe the answer is yes. In fact, I think it could happen sooner than any of us think. It could happen so fast that these banks will begin to lick the boots of their customers in a desperate, frantic attempt to avoid catastrophic failure of their business. And you know what? That's how it's supposed to work in the raw capitalist, Ayn-Rand-thumping society they supposedly believe in. In a free market, the customer has the power -- to give companies their business or to withhold it.
If we want to create a movement that can truly encompass 99% of the American people, this is it: A movement of people voluntarily removing their money from arrogant, government-bailout-begging, too-big-to-exist banks. Somehow I can't even see the average Republican saying "Oh, we should keep our money in Bank of America [or whatever other big Wall Street bank]. They deserve the bailout money from the taxpayers -- and my own money too. We customers should never exercise our freedom to do business with a better bank that doesn't take government bailouts or buy off politicians with high-powered lobbyists."
Here's a summary of the philosophy that inspires Move Your Money Mondays, from PleaseCloseMyAccount.com. It's a philosophy that cuts across the political spectrum and frames the issue in a way that even most Republicans and libertarians can support:
Free people can change the world. All they have to do is decide to exercise the power of their freedom in a spirit of unified action. Each individual doesn’t have to have a lot of money or power, since there are so many of us! The key is to work together for a goal we all believe in. ...
The way it works is simple: Freedom of choice by huge numbers of individuals all doing the same thing at the same time. Global communications and social networking technology makes this possible as never before. ...
Ordinary people have tremendous power to make change this way. We don’t have to rely on petitioning politicians, who rarely listen to people anyway unless they write them big checks for their campaigns. ... We don’t have to engage in civil disobedience or break any laws. All we have to do is become networked together in our common interests and goals, and then together use our freedom.
"Please close my account" x 10,000,000? -- Yes we can! #MYMM needs to go viral! Let's make every Monday a day that the branch managers at every Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, or Citibank dread coming in to work, because they'll know it'll be a day of lost business -- and that the next Monday, and the next, and the next, will be exactly the same thing, only bigger.