Photo credit: John Pickens via Flickr/CC BY
This Saturday the Occupy Wall Street movement will engage in a day of action. A number of events are planned, but the highlight appears to be the Move Your Money action. The event will lead occupants, workers, families, students, and other concerned citizens in a march to Chase's HQ on Wall Street with a mission: To move your money from a big, irresponsible bank like Chase to a local credit union or other account.
So why should the green-minded care? Because Chase continues to be one of the biggest bankrollers of coal, and the hideous practice of mountaintop removal mining. It's a rather perfect illustration of the sort of injustice that Occupy Wall Street is seeking to combat: The richest 1% using the 99%'s money to fund an environmentally-devastating practice they do not condone (the vast, vast majority of Americans want to see mountaintop removal mining end ASAP). It's an example of how a few wealthy individuals use concentrated capital to influence society for their own gain -- at the expense of a public that happens to like their mountains intact.
Photo credit: Silvia Alba via Flickr/CC BY
And most folks who bank with Chase have no idea that their money supports such a thing -- few working class folks have the time to check into JP Morgan Chase's investment portfolio on a regular basis, after all.
Of course, there's a simple action that can be taken to address this issue: Americans can close out their Chase bank accounts.
However, most other banks are connected with coal and mountaintop removal mining too: Even after the admirable campaign initiated by environmental activists, the major banks all claimed that they'd adopt anti-MTR policies. But a subsequent report showed that all they really did was move some figures around and stop supporting the highest-profile offender (Massey Energy, responsible for the West Virginia mine disaster). The banks still drive huge sums towards coal and MTR.
So in order to ensure that our money isn't bankrolling coal (or any number of unknown, dubious activities), the best thing to do is to ditch the big banks altogether, and opt for a local credit union. This should hardly break anyone's heart -- I don't know anyone who's happy with major banks -- especially Citi, Chase, or Bank of America. And with "innovations" like Bank of America's $5 a month debit fee incoming, there's about to be a lot more unhappiness brewing.
As one of the 99% who banks with Chase, I'll be there on Saturday. And I'll be closing out my account for good. Details here.