Tommy Tomlinson wrote a commentary for the Charlotte Observer praising the $5 monthly fee BofA will impose for debit card use and furthering the lie that the Occupy Wall Street protestors are rebels without a cause. I’m sure it went over real big in Charlotte, the company town that is the home to Bank of America. McClatchy distributed it nationally. Here’s my response:
You deserve to get zinged for this one. It praises the uncomplicated nature of the $5 fee with not one word of background about why the fee is necessary. It certainly isn’t necessary to pay for the transactions themselves. They’re automated and cost the banks a fraction of what they’re charging merchants today. Their former charges were so inflated and usurious that the government cut them. The $5 fee is an end run to make up for a whole slate of charges that weren’t as confusing as they were unfair or rigged to soak the poor and small business.
Admitting that the press can’t cover [Occupy Wall Street] “because the protesters don’t have a specific agenda” says more about the press than the protest. Covering these demonstrations requires old fashioned journalism, not the new kind where the camera crew and reporter shows up at the site expecting a one-sheet press release and a “press information officer” that knows how to button up an interview after a series of soundbyte-styled answers.
A few hours of web research will reveal lots of sites where potential demands are being discussed and voted on. This protest, with its high number of college graduates whose issues revolve around unemployment and loan debt, is a rich vein of knowledge. Sure, we’ve got our doofuses with their “deadhead vibe” whose contribution ends at good pot. But we’ve got some very smart folks as well.
Let’s just start with one demand: that somebody in the executive offices of the banks of marble actually face criminal prosecution with the possibility of going to jail. You’ll find this demand in nearly every proposed list. All the homework has been done and is in the civil lawsuits that the FHFA (Fannie and Freddie’s overseers) have brought against the banks. The names of the vice-presidents who likely perjured themselves are in the defendants’ lists.
So all we need is an indictment. Maybe we’ll get one if we have a press that starts writing about these things, instead of bemoaning that it cannot figure out what the protestors actually want without taking the time or trouble to find out the old fashioned way.