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September 15, 2009

Banks vs. YouTube

This is an excellent use of YouTube by Ann Minch of Red Bluff, California to call for a U.S. debtor's revolt—with her going first. I certainly endorse anything that calls Bank of America "evil, thieving bastards."

Now, it is true (as you can tell from her blog) that she's mildly right-wing crazy. But she's certainly no more crazy than America's Serious Liberals (like Robert Morgenthau, last seen here calling for a first strike against the dangerous alliance between Iran, Venezuela and Saturn).

Moreover, while Morgenthau is evil crazy, Ann Minch is just confused crazy. People like her have been completely abandoned by both political parties. There's almost no one prominent anywhere explaining the world in a way normal people can understand—and for good reason, since just about everyone prominent is implicated in it somehow. Minch is doing her best to decipher the puzzle around her with no help. I think she could learn something from people like us, but I'm also sure we could learn something from her.

If you just want to read was she has to say, a transcript is below the fold. The Huffington Post also has a good story about her here.


There comes a time when a person must take a stand to sacrifice for what's right. Now this is one of those times, and if I'm successful, this will be the proverbial first shot first in an American Debtors Revolution against the usury and plunder perpetrated by the banking elite, the Federal Reserve and the federal government.

For fourteen years I've been a Bank of America customer. I've had two B of A credit cards, one of them paid off, another carrying a balance. I wasn't over the limit, nor behind in payments. If fact, my credit is good, and even though I've been laid off, I've had no trouble paying my bills.

Recently Bank of America jacked up the rate on my credit card to a whopping 30%. 30% APR. I could get a better rate from a loan shark. Well, I followed the advice of the finance gurus you see on TV, who say if you call the company you can negotiate a better rate. I did call Bank of America, and they weren't willing to negotiate anything. In fact, they referred me to a credit counseling and "debt consolidation" service. I don't have any trouble with my budget. Basically Bank of America's message to me was "Tough shit."

Well, I thought about it. And now I have a message for Bank of America, and all the big banks which are robbing our middle class citizens and robbing our children and grandchildren of any hope of a middle class standard of living in their future.

So here goes: you are evil, thieving bastards. You have reaped ungodly profits in your behemoth casino scams, then lost -- only to turn around usurp the wealth of this great nation by the outright rape and pillage of middle class Americans whose sweat and toil built it. The biggest rip off in the history of the world is padding your bonus checks with the federal government as your co-conspirators. Every last one of you should be rotting in prison. Well, I'm here to tell you B of A, I officially notify you, Ken Lay [actually Ken Lewis], that I'm staging a debtor's revolt right here, right now, and thereby refuse to pay you one more red cent on your 30% credit card account. This is called civil disobedience.

Now, these are my terms: unless you return my interest rate and monthly installment amount to what it was before the rate hike, or you make me a too good to turn down payoff offer, you're not getting another penny out of me. If you had left well enough alone, I would have continued to make my payments in good faith. But no, you had to bend me over for no good reason other than to paper over your mega-screw up. You can send all the collection agencies after me that you want. You can call me fifty times a day if you want. I don't own any real estate, I don't own any real assets, I don't even have a permanent job right now. And even if I did, you'd have to get a court order to garnish my wages. And considering how many people are defaulting on your credit card accounts right now, the civil courts are going to be backed up for years. Years! You can ruin my credit, but the banks aren't loaning money anyway. So the way I figure it, Mr. Lay, I've got nothing to lose. So stick THAT in your bailout pipe and smoke it.

And to my fellow citizen debtors, you must make your own personal decision about whether to join me in this debtors revolt. You will have to search your own soul to know whether it's right for you to take a stand and be willing to sacrifice your credit score. There's power in numbers. So make your own video and send it to your creditors. Send a letter. Or simply tell your bill collectors to stick it. But I hope you'll join me in the fight. There comes a time when we must make a stand, and my time is now.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at September 15, 2009 07:41 AM

I'm not sure pointing out the "right-wing" side of things matters much.

Unless you have a moronic reflexive hatred of anything to the right of Marx, that is.

What a glorious day it would be if everyone thought JUST LIKE YOU.


Posted by: Fame is Not Wisdom at September 15, 2009 10:10 AM

who was it who said, "Let them protest, as long as they pay their taxes?" Haig? Kissinger? tricky dickster himself?

what's the diff. b/n taxes & loan debt, what w/TARP & all (and now Obama"care", whereby we'll all be forced to shell out money directly to private insurance firms)? if i don't pay off my student loan debts (subsidized/guaranteed by Uncle Sam, but now owned by Citigroup), won't the guvmint garnish my wages and/or give Citigroup a tax write-off for its losses? where's the incentive to even *work*, assuming one can find a job?

Posted by: anonymous at September 15, 2009 10:59 AM

MAX the card first. This Lady is correct, its the ONLY thing that will eventually work. STOP PAYING .

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 15, 2009 11:41 AM

Back 25 years ago, in Grad School, a friend/mentor/prof i knew advocated that anyone worthy of credit exploit their credit-worthiness, and extend their credit purchases as far as possible because, when the crunch comes, the banks will be so busy trying to repossess their really RICH clients, they'll be too busy for your petty shit...

Posted by: Woody at September 15, 2009 11:54 AM

the problem is that too many people do have something that they think is not worth losing. so for all those with assets that can be taken away or jobs that make them money, protest will be kept to a minimum. now when everyone loses everything, i fully expect widespread, non stop rioting.
The System is walking a fine line these days, but it will do everything in its power to make sure it doesn't cross it.

Posted by: rey at September 15, 2009 01:12 PM

We live in the world we live in.

From a position of security and privilege, it is tempting and easy to preach "revolution" and egg on the less privileged into foolish acts of defiance.

It is also not dissimilar to Dick Cheney preaching militarism and egging on the less privileged into battle.

Speaking as a different kind of "liberal", one who was raised by a "welfare mother" and fought hard for my scientific education and subsequent professional but unglamorous jobs, I take a different perspective.

This woman is making a terrible mistake on a personal level.

Screwing up her credit rating while she is unemployed could negatively impact on her personal life for years to come.

It is repugnant that credit card loan conditions can be changed for the worse in the absence of bad action by the borrower. I strongly support legislation to reduce this abuse

It is also repugnant the corporate employers use credit rating as an easy "screen" while hiring, but they do.

Furthermore, an argument can be made that her actions are ethically ambiguous. She still borrowed the money. The personal characteristics of the lenders are not especially relevant. The fact that they made an unexpected interest rate raise is highly relevant, but does not necessarily justify total default of the loan on an ethical level.

The ideal thing to do, if she can, is pay off the principle as fast as possible and get that interest rate out of her life, by paying as much more than the minimum payment as she can. I say this because she claims that she has no trouble with the payments.

Seriously. This seems to be a woman without class privilege or significant resources. I can't say "fight your own damn revolution first", because she started this herself, but I sure as hell can say "stop being a dick and encouraging a mixed-up woman in a tough situation to make a mistake".

Posted by: harold at September 15, 2009 01:58 PM

Fame is Not Wisdom:

I'm not sure pointing out the "right-wing" side of things matters much.

It's safe to assume that believing in 'end-times prophecy' (quoted directly from Ms. Minch's site) qualifies as crazy, and that's generally a right-wing feature if you allow for atheism/agnosticism being in the 'left' part of the political spectrum.

Shorter me: Concern troll FAIL.

Posted by: Paulie Chestnuts at September 15, 2009 02:00 PM

In the state of California, no contract is enforceable if it is illegal.
And since usury is not legal, even though Congress may pretend that they have the power to make it so, I think a dozen class action suits filed in this state against each of the banks might have a shot at reform.

Posted by: Truedelphi at September 15, 2009 03:21 PM

I suppose at the end of the day my question is - where did she come down when they 'reformed' the bankruptcy laws a few years ago.

I would agree, her 'Right-leaning' viewpoint is not particularly relevant in and of itself, save for the sneaking suspicion that that self-same viewpoint led to a completely different conclusion when she was sure it would never apply to her.

Just a thought - Jonnan

Posted by: Jonnan at September 15, 2009 04:51 PM

It seems like the general population is too fractured culturally and by class to be able to organize against the establishment.

Posted by: Rob Payne at September 15, 2009 05:52 PM

harold: She's preaching "revolution" to US, NOT the other way around.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 15, 2009 06:03 PM

Furthermore, an argument can be made that her actions are ethically ambiguous. She still borrowed the money.... The fact that they made an unexpected interest rate raise is highly relevant, but does not necessarily justify total default of the loan on an ethical level. -- harold

I'm sorry but this nit-picking of her etiquette just ensures that nothing changes.

The banks are pillaging the country with a bucket-wheel excavator, and you're upset that she won't pay her bill until they charge her a non-loan shark rate.

The abolitionists broke the law by hiding fugitive slaves. Many unions got started by violating property rights (sit-down strikes). Society does not improve when people follow the law too closely.

Posted by: Cal at September 15, 2009 08:01 PM

harold wrote: "This woman is making a terrible mistake on a personal level."

--People are too fearful in this country.

And he also called her position "ethically ambiguous"?


Somebody says she is too right wing to be worth listening too. Why? Does Bank of America only screw lefties?

Anonymous, the answer to your question is that Haig said it.

Truedelphi, those big banks have great lobbyists. Look to see when you have to file your usury claims and you'll usually discover that it was yesterday, at the latest.

Woody, your friend was a fool. The easy collections happen first and without fail. It's a lot hard to get money out of a huge debtor with dozens of lawyers and scores of other huge creditors. Comparatively speaking, getting the money from an individual is a piece of cake.

Posted by: N E at September 15, 2009 08:20 PM

She does not seem crazy. Her argument is clear and logical.

Posted by: asterrix at September 15, 2009 08:31 PM

Isn't her argument sort of like "workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your Cheneys?"

Posted by: Oarwell at September 15, 2009 09:46 PM

regarding usury laws in the US: they have been rendered essentially meaningless by two Supreme Court decisions, Marquette Bank of Minneapolis v. First of Omaha Service Corp(late '70s) and Smiley vs. Citibank( 90s). My reading of the two decisions is that congress could still put a national cap on interest rates, and that would bear constitutional muster. Funny how they haven't quite gotten around to it.

I hope that BofA doesn't decide to make an example of this lady by dragging her into court, per the RIAA's standard m.o.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at September 16, 2009 02:07 AM

I recently sued a credit card company and basically won. I know how to be effective. My suggestion for everybody: file a complaint with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency whenever these issues arise. Or more specifically: start a paper trail to the bank (which they will ignore), and then file your OCC complaint. And watch the magic occur.

Posted by: Robert Nagle at September 16, 2009 04:46 AM

Hi there "Paulie Chestnuts," I've got some news for you -- I'm not a "concern troll." In fact the last time I heard the term "concern troll" was at Daily Kos, 7 years ago. And anyone who has any political savvy knows that Daily Kos has no essayists or commenters who know a damned thing about politics.

But hey, it sure made you feel swell to say that, didn't it?

I'm a real person with a real genuine disapproval of ATR's blog posts that serve no purpose than to perpetuate division, via claiming some vain superior status above anyone who can be painted with the label "right wing".

End times prophecy is nutty, but it doesn't mean she's a "right wing nutjob" any more than your imagining I'm a "concern troll" makes you a bloody murderer.

And in any case, the issue here is NOT right-wing vs left-wing, it's whether banks are raping people economically.

At least Jonnyboy had the sense to make a comment that was true -- maybe you self-stated superior liberal/progressive people could, one day, imagine you can learn something from people who don't think exactly like you.

But you, "Paulie Chestnuts," I'm sure you are so full of omniscience you don't have wonder about what others think. Why would you, when you can simply assume people who point out the truth are "concern trolls." I mean, look how clearly you divined the truth about me.

Holy shit, you're a regular future-seer!

Posted by: Fame is Not Wisdom at September 16, 2009 11:57 AM

End times prophecy is nutty, but it doesn't mean she's a "right wing nutjob"

Yes, please stop using the term "nutjob" to describe people who hold "nutty" views. It's disrespectful.

Posted by: SteveB at September 16, 2009 12:08 PM

Jonathan Versen:

You are correct that Congress could certainly regulate interest rates and fees for nationally chartered banks. But that's going to run into the same problems that are vexing health care reform. The banks can thwart legislation by essentially buying the Senators in the small states.

That same phenomenon is really at the heart of the problem in the Smiley v. Citibank case you mentioned. Citibank moved to South Dakota when South Dakota eliminated its usury laws, and when a Californian like Smiley sued Citibank the Supreme Court said that regulations of the Comptroller of the Currency only had/have to be reasonable to stand, so Citibank won. Those regulations could naturally be trumped by Congress, but that would require Congress to act, including the Senate. The Comptroller of the Currency, surprise, was/is basically part of the banking industry, so it sided with lenders.

The upshot of this is that the lending industry can evade regulation by moving to any underpopulated state that is willing to play along by eliminating usury. South Dakota's Senators, especially Democrat Tim Johnson, were all to eager to forget the traditional hatred of South Dakota's citizens toward Eastern banks once those banks decided to send their campaign contributions and some tax dollars to South Dakota.

Posted by: N E at September 16, 2009 12:49 PM

N E's history of the race to the bottom in bank interest rate regulation reminds me that something similar could happen with health insurance as a result of the "reform" that might emerge from Congress.

@Fame is not Wisdom: Whether or not you're being one here, 'concern trolls' are a genuine phenomenon in internet discussion. I'm to the left of much of the DailyKos commentariat, but it's far too big and diverse a site to dismiss with a brush as ridiculously broad as "has no essayists or commenters who know a damned thing about politics".

The broader point Jon's making has been made elsewhere (by Digby among others): The nearly complete corporate capture of our political class, the absence of any real commitment to populism, leaves Ann Minch and many millions like her alone and adrift. Who's going to give political expression to her anger and concerns? So far, the right wing's making the best pitch.

Posted by: Nell at September 16, 2009 01:34 PM

I meant to include a link to document the potential for race-to-the-bottom regulation of insurers in the insurer-written "reform" legislation. Here it is.

Posted by: Nell at September 16, 2009 01:50 PM

I did this 4 years ago. Chase raised my rate from 9% to 24%. I had a error on my credit report for a card I didn't have and was irrelevant to chase. I had the error removed asap and chase refused to put my rate back to the 9%. I told them you can put the agreed rate back or you will not get a dime. Chase said your credit is to important for me to risk it. They were wrong! And the funny thing is it didn't really effect my credit. I expected the worse but a refinanced my car with no problems a year later.

Posted by: konaeno at September 16, 2009 02:09 PM

Nell's comment and link makes me think times are going to change soon. It will be as strange as Senator Shelby of Alabama being in the party of Lincoln, but pretty soon people in the big Blue states may be clamoring for State's rights.

Max Baucus has already brought to the attention of 100 million people in the Northeast and on West Coast that their desire for health care reform has been largely impeded by a Senator elected in a state with a population of well under one million (a lower population than South Dakota)who received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the health insurers.
It will add injury to injury if Baucus slips a provision into the federal health care reform legislation that deprives the legislatures of the populous states of any ability to protect the welfare of their citizens.

Posted by: N E at September 16, 2009 02:35 PM

Max the card is the ONLY way she will ever see a penny of the TARP bailout.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 16, 2009 02:36 PM

Way to go Ann! I do not have any credit card debt, but I do have a Bank of America credit card, which I will be closing as soon as I pay my next bill. I hope enough people can and will follow your lead because it is the only way! Good luck!

Posted by: Kris at September 16, 2009 02:47 PM

"If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. If the tax-gatherer, or any other public officer, asks me, as one has done, "But what shall I do?" my answer is, "If you really wish to do anything, resign your office." -- Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience."

Posted by: Emma at September 17, 2009 07:54 AM

Emma: APPARENTLY WE love to shed innocent blood and always have. Bombing a wedding party or 2 is good clean fun. Although the rest of the world doesn't seem to enjoy the youthful exuberence WE so heartly invest into OUR pet projects, WE do, so screw 'em. An AMERICAN TAXCOLLECTER would never give up the perks and resign his office over the advice of some welcher who thinks he's so special as spare the neighbors the BENEFIT of his dollar. So, should YOU decide to try it, look forward to a ROUGH ride.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 17, 2009 11:06 AM

I am also starting my own revolt against JP Morgan Chase. I am a finance professional and J P Morgan chanse has been lowering or cancelling credit card limits, therefore causing the plummeting of their fico scores. This has affected their abilty to borrow money for their business or most importantly enabling them to maintain their good ratings. None of these clients are delinguent. Something has to be done to stop them. They are out of control and hurting all classes of people!.

Posted by: Karin at September 17, 2009 11:44 AM

But how do you "not pay" your tax-bills, when they are subtracted from your wages before you get them? Claiming Exempt on your W-4 only works for so long before they're on to you, no?

Posted by: Cloud at September 17, 2009 04:54 PM

Cloud: EXACTLY. Then YOU will have to fight them=ROUGH RIDE. I became a STATE CITIZEN (14 Amendment) and have not paid for 32 years. (thirty two). Of course, one has to learn to do without ANY federal benefits except those EARNED through the military. Good Luck.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 17, 2009 05:47 PM

Check out this (funny) call for everyone to stop paying off credit cards. At once. By Bill Shein, a newspaper humor columnist:

Posted by: Leo at September 17, 2009 06:11 PM

An article worth reading....
"One Year after Lehman
It's Business as Usual Again for Wall Street's Casino Capitalists"


ps do not miss the spiegel online/reuters interactive feature.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at September 17, 2009 06:22 PM

A massive sit-in in the finacial district of NYC may be a better way to protest...
no hassle with the IRS and as it is called in India, "Gherao", is a very effective way of bringing the management ( or the bank /credit card company ) to its senses.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at September 17, 2009 07:09 PM

Unrelated, but props to Glenn Greenwald for his take on this Acorn teapot tempest, and "cultural manipulators" they are indeed:

Posted by: N E at September 17, 2009 10:25 PM

Ok. So in olden times the tax collector was probably like some guy from the village. And Thoreau did go to jail once for not paying his taxes. But he only spent one night there. His uncle or somebody paid to get him out. Thoreau was really pissed. But he did get to write about that one night. He also recognized that other people with families and property to lose might not have it so easy acting on their conscience like he did. But that was the problem with property, see.

Posted by: Emma at September 18, 2009 08:55 AM

Emma: AGREED! Last Thursday I went to my local townhall meeting concerning a zoning variance complaint against the local wreaker service. Several of US, myself included, spoke out to the town council over was obviously a "Kelo v. New London" move against a 35 year old business. 70 people showed up and NONE had a good word for the city's position and ALL spoke out in favor of this man, a Viet Nam Vet. Had not ALL these friends shown up this man would have lost hands down. As it was, his business got a lifetime reprieve.
If Thoreau's thousand stand up then his cause may well succeed. USUALLY only one stands up and is slapped down. IF that one will stand up a thousand times, no matter what, then he too may well succeed. Either way works eventually, BUT by YOURSELF sure is a long, rough, COSTLY, ride.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 18, 2009 10:55 AM

I understand that this woman is upset, but it boggles my mind how she is willing to sacrifice her personal financial future "for the cause."

The company that I work for,, has posted a response to this video that highlights some simple steps that she (or anyone else) can take to resolve the situation, walk away and essentially give BofA the finger.

For anyone interested, it can be found here: Debtor's Revolt: But at What Cost?

Posted by: Paula at at September 18, 2009 01:55 PM


Emerson got Thoreau out. The famous exchange is: "Henry, what are you doing in there?" To which he replied: "Ralph, what are you doing out there?"

Of course that was a stupid question, because Henry spent every other day of his life out there too. I suspect Ralph might have pointed that out, but maybe he didn't bother. Still, it led to a great essay.

Posted by: N E at September 18, 2009 02:27 PM

nell said,

The nearly complete corporate capture of our political class, the absence of any real commitment to populism, leaves [millions and millions of us] alone and adrift. Who's going to give political expression to [our] anger and concerns? So far, the right wing's making the best pitch.

liberal activists...

(1) are waiting (in bondage) for obama to bring the water,
(2) have no money (for various reasons) to launch their own campaigns,
(3) got it into their heads that nader, america's top consumer militant, is non-grata,
(4) have no idea how to lead a demanding revolt,
(5) do not have the full trust of their current or potential constituency, and
(6) are afraid of looking too mean... or too red.

these aren't really things you can fix in the short term.

Posted by: hapa at September 19, 2009 04:22 AM

more on (5).

big part of lack of trust is that "complete corporate capture" extends to thinking of all parties. not just about who writes the laws etc.

for instance, people want portable, affordable, guaranteed universal healthcare, right. we say so all the time. but i see a lot of us as afraid of ending employer-based insurance. what's the reason? it's not just chronic reaganism. i feel in my own head a sense that there's something wrong about thinking of healthcare as a right. the voice of habit says, "it's a benefit. it belongs in the human resources office."

the conflation of citizenship with employment; the ranking of employment so that those with 'good benefits' are 'better jobs.'

the whole country is in thrall.

Posted by: hapa at September 19, 2009 04:35 AM