Thursday, August 02, 2007

YOU CAN BANK ON IT

All of a sudden there are banks opening on every corner, mall, even in the supermarket—Bank of America, NorthFork, PNC, Wachovia, Chase, WAMU, Citi, HSBC. . . (We assume this is happening in your town too.) They’re as bad as Starbucks. First the big banks ate the little banks. We were both at different banks and each of them changed names three times in five years and voila! we’re now at the same bank. Do you know how many checks that is to shred?

So what’s the deal? Is there all of a sudden more money floating around so we need more places to put it? Who actually uses money anyway. There are electronic transfers, ATM transactions, debit cards, direct deposits—bank 24 hours a day, in your PJ’s. So what do we need the buildings for? Are they handing out samples, ‘cause if they are, nobody told us. We’d be happy to take a few crispy tens and twenties on a test run, even the new sepia-toned funny money (can you tell the bills apart without careful examination? We can’t.)

Or is the opposite true—there’s no more money, but we’re supposed to think there is? Does it make us feel comfy-cozy about the economic state of the country when we see banks blooming like dandelions? No recession here! Unemployment is down—no mention of the disappearing middle class or the fact that millions of those with jobs are “working poor” who can’t live or support their families on what they earn. To quote Business Week, as of 2004 twenty eight million people earned less than $18,800 a year, below the federal poverty line for a family of four—but who’s counting (Click here: BW Online May 31, 2004 Working...And Poor And for those who need their cash immediately, there’s always your handy dandy 24 hour check cashing and payday loan emporium—convenience with 300% interest rates.)So it’s all OK! More than OK—it’s swell! Just look at all the banks! Brick and mortar testament to the stability of our economy. AND you can get free checking. Oh, and do you want to take some equity out of your house? You got it—the larger the bill, the harder it is to pay, the easier it is to foreclose, my dear.

And let’s not forget that while we’re breaking out in a rash of banks, we’re also breaking out in a rash of bank robberies. According to a report on NBC Nightly News, (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19996325/) the increase has now reached the equivalent of a bank heist every hour and fifteen minutes. That’s a lot of sticking up. Now way, way back in the 1940’s bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks. His reply, ’Cause that’s where the money is.”

Are more people more desperate—amateurs with names like the Grandma Bandit, the BandAid Bandit, The Wig Bandit, The Cell Phone Bandit, The Hat Bandit—trying to get through tough times? Are they just your run of the mill crooks? Or are they crazed junkies trying to support a habit—which is what some officials are telling us?

What’s the bottom line then?

Asked why they think there are so many bank robberies, police say one factor may be the increased number of branch banks around the country. According to Maj. Harold Winsett, head of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Hillsborough County, Florida Sheriff’s Office, "Banks are on every corner to be a convenience for the people that deposit their money there. Well, it makes it just as convenient for the bank robber."

Duh.

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 3:15 PM

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