As the economy continues to sputter and new unemployment claims surge to an eight-month high, it hasn't escaped the notice of people on Main Street that the folks on Wall Street are back in the black.
According to Fortune magazine, profits of the 500 largest U.S. corporations have surged 81 percent over the past year. Fortune's editors write, "We've rarely seen such a stark gulf between the fortunes of the 500 and those of ordinary Americans."
When Fortune is standing up for the workers, you know it's bad.
As the United States splinters further into two worlds, the American people have not forgotten who got us into this mess in the first place. They are refusing to buy the big lie peddled by new Republican Governors, like Scott Walker in Wisconsin or John Kasich in Ohio, that greedy public sector workers are to blame for our economic woes. They know who inflated the housing bubble and played both sides with credit default swaps, and it wasn't teachers, firefighters or snowplow drivers.
From San Francisco to Wall Street people are taking to the streets, reminding governors and their friends on Wall Street that they remember very well who tanked the global economy, putting more than eight million Americans out of work and creating a revenue crisis for many states. Hundreds protested inside and outside the Wells Fargo shareholder's meeting in San Francisco last week, and the big bank backlash is gaining steam.
Wisconsin State AFL-CIO is the latest in a wave of businesses, organizations, and individuals who are closing their accounts with M&I Bank. The federation closed out a $100,000 CD it held at M&I. Taxpayers bailed out M&I with $1.7 billion of TARP funds. Instead of repaying the money, M&I executives and employees gave $54,000 in political contributions to Governor Scott Walker. Plus, M&I is planning on paying its failed executives $71 million in bonuses this year when the bank is sold to the Canadian-owned Harris Bank and will close its Milwaukee headquarters.
Mark Furlong, the CEO of M&I, is scheduled to receive $24 million bonus package after the bank is sold. In a letter to Furlong, Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, puts it bluntly: "By contributing money to Scott Walker and other Republicans, you have taken part in the destruction of Wisconsin's middle class. As a company entirely dependent on American taxpayers for its survival, M&I owes its allegiance to those taxpayers... We care about our families and communities, while you care only about your bottom line. Here's our bottom line: We're moving our money."
The AFL-CIO joins the firefighters the teachers, church groups and hundreds of individual who have decided to chose a new bank. More actions are planned. If you are interested in moving your money, you can find a new bank or credit union at the Move Your Money site of the Huffington Post.
Ohioans will greet Jamie Dimon, "the most dangerous banker in the world," at JPMorgan Chase's annual shareholder's meeting in Columbus, Ohio May 10th. After taking $25 billion in TARP bailout money and after acquiring Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, Jamie Dimon thinks that the big banks aren't big enough and neither is his bonus. In 2010, his total compensation topped $28 million.
Hard to imagine what the spinmeisters were thinking when they advised Dimon to flee Wall Street for Ohio. Ohio is one of the states hardest hit by the epidemic of foreclosures and joblessness caused by Wall Street. It is a state where unions have been under attack, and where hard-won labor rights that built the middle class have been stripped away from public sector workers. Next week, National People's Action will release a study showing a projected one out of every ten homes in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus received a foreclosure filing since the start of the housing crisis.
Wall Street firms have long been big backers of Kasich. According to Ohio Citizen Action, Chase employees gave $29,000 to Kasich's gubernatorial campaign.
"Protesters will deliver a message to Wall Street –- it is time for big banks like JPMorgan Chase to stop the foreclosures, pay their fair share, create jobs, and end the revenue crisis," says Adam Keck, Senior Organizer, Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative.
You are invited to join the Buckeyes in Columbus on May 17th, and you can find more information at: Showdown in America.
520 University Avenue, Suite 260 | Madison, WI 53703, U.S.A. | Tel 1-608-260-9713
BanksterUSA is a project of the Center for Media and Democracy.