What’s in Your Wallet?

Bank Transfer Day LogoThis is a question Capital One asks consumers in its popular series of television ads promoting their brand of credit cards. However, on Saturday, November 5th, 2011, in honor of Bank Transfer Day, consumers were more likely symbolically saying “Remember Remember the Fifth of November!”

This refrain is the opening line of a popular English rhyme celebrating Guy Fawkes’ Day (a commemoration of the November 5, 1605 “Gunpowder Plot” intended to blow up the English Parliament).  The poem and the date have since evolved into a rallying cry against oppression and government abuse of its citizens.

Likewise, the goal of Bank Transfer Day, which was launched from the laptop of 27-year-old art gallery owner Kristen Christian, is to to encourage consumers to voluntary switch their financial accounts from large commercial banks to non-profit credit unions and community banks.

What inspired Christian to start Bank Transfer Day? In the following HDNet interview with Dan Rather she explains that, in large part, it was Bank of America‘s (recently rescinded) decision to charge its customers $5 a month to use their ATM cards for purchases:

Interestingly, the logo being used for Bank Transfer Day is based on the design of Guy Fawkes masks which are also worn to commemorate the celebration — and have also been used by #OccupyWallStreet participants (though Christian’s efforts are not directly connected to that consumer movement).

The poem and the ideals it embodies were also popularized in the 2006 film “V for Vendetta” which was based on a series of graphic novels of the same name written by by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd. Hugo Weaving portrayed the character who delivered the famous poem in the scene below:

Will Bank Transfer Day be successful? Predictably, banks have not commented in public, but financial institutions must disclose their deposits every three months to comply with federal regulations, so perhaps we will know more about the impact of Bank Transfer Day in February 2012?

Regardless of the actual financial impact, however, Bank Transfer Day represents a positive and productive paradigm of consumer activism.

In many ways it was similarly inspired, though with much more bite than the bark in my December 25, 2008 parody of the bank bailouts, “‘Twas The Night Before Bailout!

In closing, with Bank Transfer Day upon us, perhaps the more relevant question today is “Where’s your wallet?”

Update: According to a March 2, 2012 Los Angeles Times article, “More than 1.3 million Americans opened new credit union accounts last year, up from less than 600,000 in 2010, the National Credit Union Administration reported. That brings the number of credit union members to a record 91.8 million.”

In the spirit of the holiday season, I crafted the following economy-inspired version of the classic Christmas tradition ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas for your yuletide pleasure. Behold a brand-new holiday classic: ‘Twas The Night Before Bailout!

Bailout America Logo

‘Twas the night before Bailout, when all through the Board,
Directors were scrambling, cash and stock options to horde.
Their loans were defaulting, their stock values shrinking,
Everyone hoping that St. Paulson would soon be ringing.

The executives were nestled all snug in their silk ties,
While visions of cash bonuses danced about like flies.
And the CEO in his cravat, and I in my gold-lined cap,
Just cooked our books so Fed money we could trap.

When out up on the helipad there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my office, did the glass ceiling shatter?
Away to the penthouse boardroom I flew in a tizzy,
Tore open the blinds, with anticipation I was dizzy.

The moon shining on the breasts of my gullible peon,
Gave the lustre of Bond’s martinis to objects like neon.
When, what to my glazed, wandering eyes I should spy,
But a red Hummer burning rubber across the night sky!

With an old weathered driver, green eyes and a sneer,
I knew in a moment that St. Paulson was finally here!
More rapid than auditors his eight minions they came,
He whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now, Citi! Now, BofA! Now, Morgan and Stanley,
On, GM! On, Chrysler! On Goldman and Fannie!
To the top of the building! To the top of Street Wall!
Now bail away! Bail away! Bail away all!”

As dry dollars that before a financial firestorm fly,
When they meet with the SEC, jet away to the sky;
So up to the building-top that red Hummer it flew,
With bags full of  TARP money and St. Paulson too.

And then, with prostate tingling, I heard on the ceiling,
The posturing and grandstanding of all eight underlings.
As I drew in from my Cuban cigar while turning around,
Right into the Boardroom St. Paulson crashed down.

He was dressed all in Gucci, from his head to John Lobbs,
And his clothes were tarnished with the money he robbed.
A bundle of taxpayer’s cash he had flung across his back,
He looked like a meth dealer furtively opening his pack.

His eyes how they squinted! His breath was so smelly!
His face covered in cash, dirty dollars filled his belly!
He reeked of the federal dollars he had just fleeced,
So slick was his style, his beard covered in grease.

The stump of a fat stogie he clenched tightly in his jaw,
His carbon footprint was huge, it went for miles I saw!
He had a distorted face and belly that he sure spoiled,
It sloshed when he laughed, like a bowlful of crude oil!

He was corpulent and wasteful, a frightening monster,
Had he not had the cash I’dve hit him with my roadster!
With no questions or oversight, the bailout he gave me,
Sarbanes-Oxley is a joke, now of regulations I am free!

He giggled and grunted then went straight to his scheme,
And filled all of the Board’s pockets with the stolen green.
He then turned with a jerk, and stuck a finger up his nose,
And when giving a belch, up through the ceiling he rose!

He staggered to his Hummer, to his team gave “the” finger,
And away they all flew, but long did his stench still linger.
But I heard him yell loudly, as he careened out of sight,
“Happy Bailout to all, and to CEOs a good-night!”

For more information about the “Bailout America” logo, please visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/doctorious/3102369490/