Saturday protests against bank bailout gain steam

The national “New Way Forward” protest against the Obama-Geithner bank bailout is gaining momentum in Colorado. On the Web site facilitating the action, people are signing up to rally Saturday at banks and public buildings around the country. Denver sign-ups to meet on the west steps of the Capitol have climbed to 145 people.

The idea behind the protest is to act now before the bailout plan goes into effect, using the economic crisis to fundamentally alter the way the U.S. finance industry does business, to change direction instead of merely righting the ship, as critics say the Geithner plan will do, leaving it to sail along in the same direction by the same stars that led to disaster.

The organizers and main advocates — a loose coalition of digerati — cite a host of recent widely referenced works sharply critical of the Geithner plan, including articles by Simon Johnson, Paul Krugman and Mike Lux and the Bill Moyers PBS interviews with Johnson, William Greider and William Black.

At the blog Tiny Revolution, a post by Aaron Datesman titled “Making the Banks Run in the Direction We Want” references the protest but in the context of proposing a related alternative idea. Datesman suggests a nationwide “activist-organized bank run” to send a message with teeth to the banks and the government. The comment thread following the post is loaded with spinoff ideas and arguments on effectiveness and legality.

Datesman proposes people send out a version of this letter before they decide to withdraw their money from a too-big-to-fail bank for deposit at a local credit union:

Dear Congressperson,

If it’s too big to fail, it’s too big to exist. The nation’s largest banks and Wall Street firms have created a tremendous crisis with no accountability for their disgraceful behavior. Unless the Congress takes immediate action to nationalize and break up the nation’s largest financial firms, including Bank of America, I will withdraw my consent from the financial system. On May 5, 2009, I plan to close my accounts and withdraw my $xxxx balance in cash from Bank of America. This is my right as a citizen and as a depositor. I encourage the millions of my fellow citizens who also have accounts with BoA to do the same on this date.

Sincerely, etc.

cc: Kenneth D Lewis, CEO, Bank of America

Maybe Saturday’s protests will include marches from public parks and Capitol steps to bank lobbies and credit union deposit windows.

Such a move probably would make little practical difference, a mere shuffling of digital zeros and ones in the placeless double- and triple-booked globalized financial neverland we’ve created. Still, it has a nice ring: Kah-ching!


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