The bankers got bailed out; we got sold out. It’s a common refrain among U.S. citizens who care about fixing the major financial-inequality problems besetting our nation. If banks are so essential to our society that they can not be allowed to fail, then they should be structured and regulated as our utilities are.
How do these unregulated banks affect UWT students? Other than the equity collapse of the family home, the disappearance of large portions of long-earned retirement accounts, we have rapidly-spreading financial inequality and limited job prospects.
Last month federal prosecutors in New York took Bank of America to court. Authorities seek to collect $1 billion in penalties alleging brazen mortgage fraud. This is yet another indication that our current financial system remains broken.
It should be evident to most people that our economy is global. Banking institutions make transactions that move funds instantly, anywhere on the globe. Powerful corporations operate globally, using low-wage workers in one region to increase profits for themselves in another region, all the while sheltering assets or avoiding taxes in yet another region. What affects one nation-state invariably affects others; we are in this globalized community together. Our national economies are linked within the global reach of free market capitalism.
Libor, the London interbank offered rate, is an average of bank interest rates that underpins most global financial transactions. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed since a $450 million settlement with U.S. and British regulators was reached in June with the London-based bank Barclays, which admitted to manipulating Libor rates for profit.
The same sort of greed-fueled deregulation and speculation which caused the Great Recession of 2008 is attributed with triggering the Great Depression of 1929. Financial regulations like the Glass Steagall Act were enacted to prevent such economic collapse but have since been abolished.
Occupy Wall Street is a group of citizens working to challenge and to change the economic inequality which is plaguing our national and our global community. The Rolling Jubilee is an Occupy project currently underway which buys people’s distressed debts for a nickel on the dollar, then abolishes them.
The loans of many unemployed students and some of the roughly 60 percent of all U.S. bankruptcies caused by astronomical medical expenses are being removed by a group of ordinary U.S. citizens. Instead of some nameless collection firm buying these debts and then aggressively going after the borrower for 100 percent plus collection expenses, the debt-shackled people are freed for 5 percent.
If our respective governments will not act in the best interests of the vast majority of their citizens instead of the interests of a powerful, wealthy, 1 percent minority, we the people have a responsibility to act. We must show them how to do it. For more information see rollingjubilee.org.