It's all about the rents, part one million and ten
[Welcome, Crooks and Liars readers! You can check out other posts in this series using the links at the bottom of this page. For an explanation of rents and rent-seeking behavior, see "Rent Party". -- lambert]
It seems that 1 in every 12 households is "unbanked"*, according to the Treasury; they have no bank accounts, and rely on check cashing services and cash cards. That's because they did the math, and they figured out that paying the banksters rent for a bank account** wasn't worth it. Yes, it's really better to do business with Joe's Cash X-Press than Bank of America. Who knew?***
So, now Treasury wants to set up a program of "safe" accounts so that the "unbanked" -- and, hey, the "underbanked" too! -- can have confidence that they'll be paying "reasonable" fees, and not "exorbitant" fees... So it's safe to come bank to the loving arms of JP Morgan Chase. Alrighty then.
What I would like to know -- and I would bet something like this is happening in MI -- is whether people aren't "unbanked" but "rebanked." Michiganders?
Is anyone on the left doing this? Like "Move Your Money" is great, as far as it goes -- but is there anyone out there who's moved to create an entirely new banking system? One not based on usury?
NOTE * Treasury calling people "unbanked" is like a Christianist calling people "unchurched."
NOTE ** Or, in the jargon, "entering the financial main stream."
NOTE *** Most of these people are poor. It's hard work to be poor, and most don't have the time to be pulled out of line so some "Associate" can upsell them on the kind of "innovative" financial products that require marketing collateral printed on glossy stock to successfully exploit their hosts. Yeah, Joes' Cash X-Press has all the atmosphere of a Soviet airport lounge, but at least there you don't get accosted by time-sucking marketing weasels.
NOTE Via Yves.
UPDATE Joseph points out in comments that not all the "unbanked" are "unbanked" by choice. Which is true. But the article quotes those who have chosen: "'Forget it with the banks,' " she said. "I just lost hope with them."" Indeed. It would be interesting to have hard data on the breakdown, but I would guess that a decade's extraction of brutal and arbitrary overdraft fees would have gotten a lot of people's attention. Particularly people to whom $25 or $30 bucks is real money. (Well, maybe no money is real, since it's all fiat, or all money is real, because even the smallest amount buys something, but you know what I mean.)