Ah, tax time. So many people gripe this time of year about what they have to pay the feds, like when the Tea Party chose April 15 as their first day of rage. At the same time that there is so much sturm und drang over taxes, people in this country are robbed blind by their banks and financial institutions, yet don't seem to care. This year my eyes popped out of my not when I saw what I owed the IRS, but when I got my bank statement showing me how much interest I had earned last year on my savings.
Let me provide some background. Y'see, my wife and I are finally on solid financial footing, and after years of grad student and low-level academic penury, I can actually put money away to be saved. It's something I've been very proud of, especially since this has meant cutting back on buying the things I desire. My thrifty parents instilled in me the value of saving money and spending wisely. I don't know how many times I heard Ben Franklin's maxim "a penny saved is a penny earned" as a child.
So imagine my surprise when we looked at our account statement, and found that the Bank of America paid us a grand total of 75 cents in interest last year. They had dropped our interest rate to a quark-sized .01%, a number so ludicrously tiny that to call it "interest" is positively Orwellian.
These fuckers robbed from me. They got access to my money, and in return they gave me jack shit, even though they could still have made money off of my money by paying out a a token 1% rate. Considering the bite taken out by inflation, I might as well have stuck my savings in a mattress for all the good keeping it in a bank has done me. I ended up with all kinds of restrictions on withdrawing from my savings, and in return was rewarded with enough money to pay for 45 minutes of parking, a handful of gumballs, or a couple of games of Street Fighter at the arcade.
Taking the interest "payment" from the bank feels like legitimizing their theft of the wages I need to send my daughters to college or put down a down payment on a house. I am thinking of putting three quarters in an envelope, sending them to Bank of America headquarters, and including a note informing the banksters in charge that they can take the shiny coins and shove them up their guilty asses.
The more I think about it, the more this is another example of how our current, insatiable brand of capitalism has destroyed the traditional pathways to the middle class. Low taxes have starved higher education, which now requires insane loan obligations for students. Speculation in real estate has driven home prices to ridiculous levels. More and more employers casualize their labor forces, making them "flexible" with 35 hour a week "part time" jobs without health insurance. And now those lucky enough, like me, to put some money aside, are being robbed blind by usurers who refuse to pay interest on the deposits that keep their banks afloat. The leeches at the top squeeze every last cent out of us proles, so they can keep on living the high life. I guess they can have my 75 cents while they're at it, too.