“I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
And I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again”
Did you hear the one about the bank that has a system in place for nearly a decade to rob you blind? Maybe you were looking the other way and working a few jobs to pay the rent, the kid’s braces or car payments. Maybe you’re too tired of all the drama and crime shows that are the new reality. Many of you don’t think it matters if it hasn’t happened to you yet. You’ve seen the headlines here and there about bank robberies in the old days – the ski mask, the gun, the “hit the floor” commands by sweaty petty crooks yelling at trembling customers and employees trying to reach the silent panic button. We’ve all seen that scenario played out again and again. But did you ever imagine it in reverse? That perhaps your pristine and powerful financial institution was actually the one robbing you blind?
Welcome to Wells Fargo, whose slogan has always been “Together we’ll go far.” Just like the red flags and telltale signs in a bad relationship, the bad boy boyfriend is telling you up front that he is no good for you, but did you listen? No, because he was so good looking, solid, strong, offering the illusion he’d take care of you… and you needed to bank on someone. Not to mention free mini water bottles and lollipops for your purse. You never thought it would happen to you, you savvy consumer, you. That’s always how it starts but we don’t fully see it until those red flags actually catch fire and we no longer have money left to burn. That’s how we learn, and become bitter as we age. Banksters. They’re all alike.
Word on the street this week is that heads are rolling – again – and this time it’s happening nasty quick and clean to foreign exchange bankers. Sudden, too, so something is afoot. Senior executive traders have been fired in the San Francisco and Charlotte headquarters. Gone baby gone, though the reason for their terminations hasn’t been released, as of yet. Guess they wanted to see other banksters. So Bob Gotelli, head of the foreign exchange sales group; Jed Guenther, foreign exchange management; Michael Schaufler, and Simon Fowles, former global head of foreign exchange trading got pink slip Post-It notes like Carrie in “Sex and The City.” Now place your bets on how long it will take these guys to get a job at JP Morgan Chase or Bank of America. Or Deutsche Bank for that matter.
After the 2008 Wall Street-induced economic catastrophe, big banks started to install double door security and bulletproof glass windows between customers and tellers. The housing crisis, the outsourcing of American jobs, the decline in U.S. manufacturing, the politics of circus-like tricks, illusions and freakish sideshow distractions make for hungry lower classes and angry mobs at gated parking lots. The shrinking middle class made these large financial institutions afraid of an actual revolution of sorts, a run on the banks, maybe a rising tide of revelatory regulations. No such luck.
Wells Fargo is the third-largest U.S. bank. If you bank there you’ll see it’s a well-oiled machine of young henchmen in dark suits and quaffed smiling employees who watch you, escort you, greet you and monitor your every move. Who would have imagined that Professor Bill Black’s well-known line from his TED talk, “The best way to rob a bank is to own one,” would be so telling of what we are now witnessing in our country and globally?
Wells Fargo scandals continue as the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking and Urban Affairs go through the motions of chastising one of the largest banks in our country, pointing out the fraud and deceptive business practices that have continued for many, many years under the bank’s leadership and instruction. But beyond paying off the government from time to time, and wiping a little egg off their faces, the bankster bosses in charge simply roll their eyes and fold their stocks into a golden parachute as they float toward luxurious retirement. Wells Fargo has become regular fodder for late night talk shows; as Stephen Colbert said, “Go Stumpf yourself.”
Elizabeth Warren plays the good guy senator in this freakish reality show, the wonder woman shero of the working classes with her fist in the air, one finger pointed, “You should be fired” slogan. Even if Warren runs for president in 2020, who’s to say she won’t move more to the center, settle down and acquiesce to a banker boat less rocked? Same as the old boss. Then, after four to eight years, she can write her biography and earn millions giving Wall Street speeches to the very criminals she shakes a fist at now.
The Senate committee questions, spanks and chastises for public consumption, but as Macbeth so eloquently said:
“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Shame on you Wells Fargo. Remember the Occupy protests we watched, so ahead of their time, so quickly brutalized and squelched, their chants at bullies and police brutality: “SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!”
Shame shame shame. No justice, no peace. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…
Tim Sloan is the bank’s “new” boss (though he has worked there for over 30 years, same as the old boss, John Stumpf.) For the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Wells Fargo Bank, with over 2 million shares of stock, every time the stock goes up a dollar Mr. Sloan and former CEO John Stumpf make $2 million. Both stated they were not aware of any fraudulent accounts. They were too busy earning over $10,000 an hour. Who has time?
If the employees did not cooperate with the “Eight is great” slogan and subsequent record of new fake accounts implemented by cross-selling products, credit cards and unwanted accounts using forged signatures, they were fired. Thousands of minimum wage workers with families, car payments, 401k’s and guilty consciences. Hey, but if you put a family into foreclosure you might win a $100 gift card at Bed Bath & Beyond!
Hands up – this is a stick-up. Your money or your life. “Screw your family, my family depends on it.” Together we’ll go far. Dub in and repeat the rap of Elizabeth Warren: “You should be fired…fi fi fi fired.”
All the while Mr. Sloan defends the “culture” of this corporation as he further enables its fraud, and profits from the ongoing scam. If he is “fired” or, as in Stumpf’s case, slips into “early retirement,” he does so with insider trading of stock options and a cool $130 million in cash. Awesome return on his strategy of robbing all the banks, not just one branch, while making the underling class of peasant employees do the dirty deeds cheap – then firing them to get rid of the evidence. Nice work if you can steal it.