On the wall of my bedroom I have a poster I have had for years. My reason for getting it was because it is a picture of a mama robin feeding her six chicks. The nest is partially made with pencils and paint brushes intertwined in the twigs. The poster reflects two of my favourite things – birds and art utensils. For I always hear the birds singing, and I am an amateur artist.
But lately the picture has taken on sinister intonations. For, you see, three of the birds have their mouths wide open, to collect the insect mama has brought for them, and three of the birds are sort of on the bottom of the nest, with their mouths closed, and a sort of sadness in their eyes. This picture didn’t use to look like this to me, but current events have made it so. Obviously the mama represents the government, the open mouths waiting for the food to drop in are corporations, and the three smaller birds at the bottom of the nest are the middle class and poor people who know they are not going to get a piece of the insect – or the pie, if you wish.
I read a lot – newspapers, websites – and watch a lot of television – news shows, commentaries, interviews – or at least I used to. I still tend to read the opeds in the Saturday and Sunday paper, but I’ve sort of given up on all the television shows. Because I find it all too depressing. And what got to me this last weekend, and caused me to stay in my apartment both Friday and yesterday (Monday) and not even get out to the computers, and limited my television to sports shows and TCM movies, is that I read an article from a musician who was writing about how there are no more protest songs. He compared the songs being written today to songs like What’s Going On, War, The Times Are A’Changin’, Where Have All The Young Men Gone, and the like. What do you hear these days? I made a comment to a young woman one day about how there are no protest marches, and her comment was that they were waiting for all of us who used to do these things to show them how. I don’t get it. How can the people of today live with what is happening in this world. Forced religions, corporate wealth, politicians voting for the hands putting money in their pockets, dishonesty in everything, yes, even my beloved NASCAR and college football, people screaming all the time for more and more and more, but saying why should I give anything to anyone.
The storms and the fires showed me there are still a lot of people who care, but they are kind helping kind. There are a few Warren Buffets and Bill and Melinda Gates out here, but not nearly enough. Just huge sighs of relief that it isn’t happening to them. I suppose because they can plant their homes on high hills and afford landscaping so that the fires and water cannot reach them. Of course, they are there so they can look down on the rest of us. Heck, even firemen here saw their own homes burn so they could fight fires to save other folks homes. But I assure you, you cannot count these firemen among the wealthy – some of them are volunteers so they don’t even get paid for what they do.
Anyway, let me tell you about my own personal “corporate” engulfer. My bank, Wells Fargo (and I don’t hesitate to use their name because I can prove every single thing I say here, even to having it on flash drive), has been stealing from me for about six months. I have been with them for nine years, even praising them for their actions back when the banking crisis began, but I suppose when Justice gave corporations they same rights as a human being, they figured they might as well get in on the loot. For the past six months, they have taken every bit of my $926 a month as they could get by with doing, doing it in such as way that at the end of the month, when statements come out, what they have done is not seeable – that is why I have kept a record on a daily basis, printing out the records on a day-to-day basis, and writing messages to them, which I then copied to my flash drive. I finally quit about a month and a half ago. Because by then they had done something so ignorant, or purposefully, that I realized they simply were either not smart enough to know what they had done, or even more, were hoping I was not smart enough to know what they had done.
For one example, I took $40 out of the ATM machine inside of the Wells Fargo bank. The $40 was taken out of my account. But the next day, when I looked at my account, they had backed the $40 out, put another check through, then put the $40 back through, but charged me $35 for doing so. I complained (as I had done numerous times), and they put a search on it, decided I was right, and then GAVE ME BACK THE $40 INSTEAD OF GIVING ME BACK THE $35, AND THE TWO $35 THAT FOLLOWED BECAUSE ALL OF A SUDDEN I DIDN’T HAVE THE MONEY TO COVER OTHER CHECKS I HAD WRITTEN. This is the sort of thing that has gone one for the past six months. They even managed to take one check I had written for some prescriptions, and bounced it not once, not twice, but three times (a check isn’t even supposed to be put through three times), and got not only the $105 for bouncing it three times, but cut me off from having money to buy groceries last month. I lived on Ramen, and a few things a friend gave me.
Those of you who gripe about entitlements, you need to understand that once the government and corporations get you on different welfare programs, they don’t want you off. They will go out of their way to keep you begging. I could have gone to two or three food banks, but without a car, and bad knees and the heat we’ve had this summer in Central Texas, going to a food bank would have been worse than living on Ramen noodles. And I guarantee, they are counting on that too. Meals on Wheels – some of these folks couldn’t survive without it, but I’m no longer eligible because the rules have been changed so that you literally have to be house-bound to get them. That doesn’t mean any difference to those already on it, since they are grandfathered in, which is my good luck since I am getting benefits that cannot be taken away from me as long as I live, unless they find out I am cheating, which I most definitely am not.
Wells Fargo – what to do. Well, I could try to sue them, but I know with their money and their corporate backing, they could keep a lawsuit going so long that I would probably be dead, since I am 70, coming up pretty fast on 71. They are counting on that. As well, at $926 a month, how could I even pay for such a lawsuit. Find a lawyer willing to do pro bono work, for a slice of the pie I might win? Good luck with that too. No, all I can do is move to another bank. And before you tell me to get my checks and keep my cash to myself, well let me tell you about a new law coming into effect on January 1. All government payouts for entitlements will be required to be put in banks – automatic deposits. Okay, you say, money will be less likely to be stolen, and it will save the government money – about 1%, or $7.5 million per month in paperwork. That’s good, you say. And you would be right – except what are the banks going to be doing to us, the poor who depend on these checks?
So I’ll simply be changing banks. Or should I just stay with the bank I’m already with? At least it is the evil I know against the evil I may come to know.
So, folks reading this, if you don’t do something to help yourself out, this is the kind of lives you face. Because you are not only dealing with corporations, you are dealing with politicians who love corporations. I will continue to vote, as long as I have any life left in me, but at this point, it becomes a matter of voting for the one who might do me the least harm. The only other thing would be to give up my life, which might please a few folks, but I’m not there yet. I know because I have been there. And I know right now I have to get out of this funk I am in. Maybe writing this will do it for me.
Carol Stepp, Austin, TX