Palermo Big props to my brothers and sisters back in the hometown where Occupy New Orleans put 1000 on the street according to estimates from professional organizers I know and love! Yes, that was more than double the numbers in DC and many other cities, but, hey, we’re now that kind of town. We know that the unwillingness of banks to loan is stalling the recovery of the city! We also realize that it’s killing our country and many others!
All of this was much on the minds and in the mouths of graduate students and professors in the Architecture Department of the University of Palermo yesterday for several hours as we discussed my book, The Battle for the Ninth Ward: ACORN, Rebuilding New Orleans, and the Lessons of Disaster (www.socialpolicy.org). There is no way to discuss the problems of New Orleans recovery without discussing the problems of housing financing with the disappearance of subprime lending, the problem of rising credit scores for borrowing, and the bank bailout without creating more lending.
Reading the papers from Palermo seven hours before alarms starting ringing in the USA is a bizarre experience. While y’all are sleeping, I can be seething about the Democrats trying to gauge how much or how little, they and Obama should surf the populist tide that Occupy has stirred. “Do what’s right” and “say what you believe” did NOT seem to be part of the calculations, sadly.
On the other hand a clear bullseye was drawn of all places and of all people by a lawyer writing about the plain and simple robbery being perpetuated by banks as some of them (Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase) jack up debit card fees in response to a little bit of relief we won in Congress with the Dodd-Frank legislation. Lloyd Constantine, the lead lawyer, in a successful class action suit against the credit card companies and banks for their fees argued simply in his piece (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/opinion/debit-card-fees-are-robbery.html?ref=todayspaper) that the new debit card fees were planning put: robbery. Furthermore, he was making the case that they are reinstituting the same charges that the courts had forced them to drop earlier. He makes the case compellingly, and of course he’s right, so you can read that for yourselves, but the question now is what to do about it?
Bank of America is the perfect target and with their recent announcement of a $5.00 per month charge for use of debit cards to “recover” costs in a blatant lie and effort to fleece their customers, it’s time for a concerted Boycott Bank of America movement to take hold to prove the power we are starting to show on the streets. The efforts to reform this big ugly operation around its Countrywide mortgage mess and mayhem and refusals to significantly modify mortgages to prevent foreclosures should have been enough, but somehow these bad boys have gotten away with this. Now the debit thing hits the little people hard and often, so perhaps this example of a bank “too big to fail” is the poster child for a bank that we should combine to either put under or see put right. We need a Boycott Bank of America call to go with the movement building everywhere. There are other alternatives for banking and debit cards, and we should embrace them. Without a poster or a rally, Netflix just took a beating on its effort to pick customer pockets, now the same thing should happen to Bank of America. I’m trying to figure out if we can refuse to accept Bank of America debit cards to protect our customers at Fair Grinds Coffeehouse in New Orleans for example.
Let’s bring this bad boy down and teach Wall Street and the White House and everyone around the world that there is no bank too big to get away with stealing homes and hard earned dollars from the American people.
Occupy whatever you want and raise the roof beams, but BOYCOTT BANK OF AMERICA NOW!