Thursday, February 4, 2016

Too Big To Fail

I want to talk to Bernie supporters. I am one of you. I think his primary message of income inequality is the most important issue of our time. So many other things flow from this:

  • Yup...racism is a big problem that we have to confront on many levels, But when the assets of this country are flowing freely to all of its citizens through high employment and good wages many of the symptoms of racism disappear, and it is easier to confront some of the other institutional issues of racism.
  • Confronting climate change requires a fundamental alteration in the way we view, use, and produce energy. The monied interests are still fundamentally behind oil.

You get the idea. Confronting this one enormous issue touches nearly every other important issue of our day.

So I like Bernie. I have incredibly little disposable income, but I send him a few bucks now and then. And I will probably be voting for him in Michigan in a month.

But I gotta tell you guys (largely guys) gotta get off your high horse. Hillary isn't evil. I won't even call Donald Trump evil. He may be incredibly bad for America, and a self-centered jerk who doesn't understand world politics. But I would still be loathe to use the word evil to describe him. And yet...and YET...many of you are calling Hillary evil.

So why are so many left wingers calling Hillary evil (or some variation)? Is it because she has been politically fluid? Y'know, even Bernie is changing his tune on gun control. If you look at Hillary's overall record you see a consistent progressive message. And please don't bring up that Barry Goldwater thing. (a) that was over 50 years ago. That's more than most of you guy's lifetime. You've changed since birth. So can she. And (b) Barry Goldwater wouldn't even exist in today's republican party, with his support of gay rights and distrust of evangelicals.

Is it because of her ties to Wall Street? I, too, wish this were not the case. It is one of the fundamental policy differences between the two. Bernie wants to break them up. Hillary wants to regulate them:

  • While regulation won't accomplish the economic revolution Bernie is calling for, it's a damn sight better than the deregulation every Republican is asking for.
  • Hillary's policy on this is not fundamentally different that Obama's, and I don't hear people calling him evil. Well...okay...I do...just not from the political left.

This post is not about why we should be nice to Hillary. There is enough reason for that coming from our candidate who is asking for a campaign about the issues. This is about YOUR ties to Wall Street.

What's in your wallet?

Among the many things I do is wait tables about 16 hours a week. I wait tables at a gay cafe in a progressive city. I wait on a lot of Bernie supporters (Waiters hear a lot from their tables). And at the end of their meal they whip out their Bank of America card.

You want a revolution, but can't give up your ties to Wall Street?

Or even worse, they whip out your Amazon Prime card. And, yes, I hear you brag about your free shipping. Not only is there a big Wall Street bank behind that card, you are also supporting the 21st century American sweatshop which is at the core of the revolution you are talking about. You want to talk about evil....If you were to walk into one retail shop a day for the rest of your life, you would still not match the number of local businesses has been responsible for closing. Okay...I just made that up. But it sounds about right.

And don't be fooled by the cute dalmatian or panda on your credit card. That is a big Wall Street bank standing behind that card.

And don't tell me that you pay off your balance every month, so they aren't making money off of you. Even if you really are paying off your balance (and really...are you really?) There is still somewhere between 1-1/2 and 4-1/2 cents on every dollar going to that bank from the other side of the transaction. Add in the 12 cents per annum (or whatever) on the buyer's side and you are doing a great job of supporting them.

Revolutions happen when a lot of people take action. And while a vote for Bernie is great, as long as you keep supporting those big banks it doesn't matter whether we have a President Sanders, Clinton, or Trump.

My bank is the Bank of Ann Arbor. I have also banked at, and could recommend, the Ann Arbor State Bank, and University Bank. You want a revolution. Take your money out of Chase or the Bank of America. Put it in your local bank. I know the presidents of two of those banks, and they know me. I see them at swim lessons for their daughter and my nephew. I see them at the local market. Same with other officers and staff of those banks.

Even more important, the more capital they have in THEIR bank, the more they have to invest in our city. Believe me, Bank of Ann Arbor has no interest in funding an offshore oil well. They want to write home mortgages and support local businesses. It's like "buy local" on steroids.

And if everyone takes their money and business away from those big banks, then fundamental change will happen...whether we have a President Sanders, Clinton, or Trump.

I won't get your Delta Miles or Disney Rewards. No one said revolution was easy.

Do I need to remind you of this scene from "It's A Wonderful Life"? A lot has changed in banking since then, but it is still fundamentally true that a local bank is going to do more for the local economy than a big bank.

So please guys, stop hating Hillary and start building this fundamental economic revolution. You'll make Bernie proud on both counts.