Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Why I have had enough of being robbed by the bankers

The expression "bank robbery" conjures up a different image than it did 25 years ago. Back then, it meant a chap in a mask pointing a gun at a teller and demanding she fill his bag with shekels. Now, it means banks robbing us.

I'd a small victory against these legally approved crooks the other day. My account had gone into the red for a couple of hours.

Result? Charged £25, on a rate of 25% interest.

I don't take this sort of thing lying down any more. I protest everything. I wrote - that's how I protest (ie from the privacy of my own home) - demanding the money back along with an explanation of how they came up with this 25% interest figure.

Precisely what calculation was that based on? Who decided it?

And, while they were at it, I wanted to know why electronic payments to my account, which are instant anywhere else (person to person or internet shopping or paying the Inland Revenue), take up to three days to clear.

How can that be? It's instant. It's electronic. They don't have to take the notes out and count them, nor move them from A to B.

The answer is that it is a scam, saving them a few days of having to pay you interest on your account or not reducing the interest you have to pay them.

They never admitted that, of course, nor did they explain computation for the 25% charge. But they did give me my money back.

They always do. But you have to protest. You have to not let them away with it.

At long last, there are signs that we - as in collective humanity - are not going to let them away with it. Protest is moving beyond the lone individual in his or her demesne to the streets indeed of Americashire, home and headquarters of capitalism and its various scams.

Anti-corporate protesters are now in the third week of occupying the Wall Street area of New York, and demonstrations have also occurred in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Denver and Seattle. Last weekend, no fewer than 700 people were arrested on Brooklyn Bridge. This is quite extraordinary for America which, you might have noticed, is not a particularly left-wing country.

But it's not so much about that wing thing - so 20th century - as about the realisation that inequality in the land of the freeloader has now reached insane levels. Mostly, we just tut at our televisions or newspapers and accept that nothing can be done. But, in yonder America, they ain't taking it any more.

They're confronting the filthy rich, demanding an end to the culture of "corporate welfare", trying to take back their country.

We've had the Arabian Spring. Now it's the American Fall. Peaceful in intent, the protesters' banners bear quotes from Gandhi to GK Chesterton ("an enormous amount of modern ingenuity is expended on finding defences for the indefensible conduct of the powerful"), and aren't just the work of witty students (a soldier had this one: "Second time I've fought for my country, first time I've known my enemy").

Someone said their slogans "capture emotions but are too often unrelated to solutions".

Fair comment. But I'm sure they'll cross that Brooklyn Bridge next time they come to it.

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