Monday, October 30, 2006

Banking on Fear

This past weekend, I like many John and Jane Paychecks, took an hour to balance my accounts for the end of the month. I wanted to make sure the money was where it was supposed to be. And, like many folks, I keep the bulk of my money in savings, transferring only what I need for bill-coverage into my checking account. I do this because I belong to a credit union and I get a decent rate in savings.

However, when I attempted to perform the transfer, the site came back with a message saying “Transfer Failed Due to Reg – D.” I tried several more times only to receive the same failure message. Assuming this was a simple website glitch, I waited until Monday (today) to call my bank to find out what the problem was/is. What I was told was chilling.

“Reg – D” has to do with a provision in the Patriot Act which is supposedly aimed at money laundering. Individuals are not allowed to transfer money between accounts more than six times in a 30 days period. It does not matter whether the institution is a bank or credit union or between a savings and a checking account. You simply aren’t allowed to make these sorts of transfers electronically. You must call the financial institution and request that someone at the bank do it for you. In other words, the government is saying how and when you can manage your own money.

Like many left-leaning, suburban working class people, I have been angry about the so-called Patriot Act since the day it went from punditland to law. I hated the idea that we would become “that kind of country” - a culture of finks and snoops with our government treating its citizens as suspects. But, honestly, I never went much beyond theoretical outrage.

As with many things that have happened since 9/11, the so-called “war on terrorism” really means a war on the citizens. Granted, being inconvenienced in my personal banking does not compare to being rounded up and sent to a darkened cell at Camp X-Ray, but it is telling. It is a gutting example of the sort of day-to-day variety of creeping-fascism which has been engendered in a climate of fear. What is worse, the heavy-handed actions of our government infantilize the citizen; making him or her “subjects” to the largess of a paternalistic overseer.

In what ways is this “conservative?” How is this “small government?”

I did call my Congressman. I did write him a letter. He’s out campaigning and probably not talking about The Patriot Act (which he did not support. Good for him) because Democrats are talking about everything BUT the war and the Patriot Act is “old news.” I hope that, somehow, somewhere, November 7th 2006 means the beginning of the end of this six year nightmare.

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

Yes, I found this out the hard way just a couple of months ago... try living abroad and not being able to move money when you need to... especially when all the phone numbers for your bank are "toll free" and difficult to access from such a long distance! Argh!