By William Hudson
The progressives in Santa Cruz, California- a sleepy surfer community off of California’s stunning Route 1 highway have decided to take action against the big banks and their Wall Street Tactics- and hope their tactics will spread nationwide. Santa Cruz- located about 45 minutes south of San Jose and about 50 minutes north of the luxury enclave of Carmel, is unlike either capitalist-centric communities to their north and south.
Santa Cruzians aren’t obsessed with the tech wealth of Silicon Valley north of them, and nor are they impressed with the fortunes of the Carmel/Monterey/Big Sur crowd who have profited from their big bank holdings. Santa Cruz is where people reside who value lifestyle, the natural beauty of its coastline, redwood forests, and hold liberal leanings against corrupt banks. Santa Cruz is demonstrating that social responsibility matters and this concept may take hold in other similarly-minded communities nationwide.
The visionaries elected as Santa Cruz County Supervisors decided they would not invest the County’s holdings with the five banks who have participated in criminal felony activity. “Doing business with institutions that are committing federal crimes is not consistent with the obligation that we have to protect public dollars,” said Supervisor Ryan Coonerty, who originated the original proposal to the board. Coonerty recognized, “There’s been so much bad behavior and so few consequences.”
Citicorp, JPMorganChase, Barclays, The Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS AG were boycotted by Santa Cruz County after they were fined a scant $5.6 billion dollar penalty for manipulating the foreign-currency market. A measly fine of 5.6 billion dollars when hundreds of billions of dollars were made will never stop the banks from their criminal enterprises. However, if enough communities nationwide begin investing their funds in companies that offer altruistic social policies and sound economic principles- perhaps the impact on the banks will be enough to alter their illegal conduct. Wall Street won’t mourn the loss of Santa Cruz County’s portfolio, valued at about $650 million- but collectively, if other communities join in- the resulting impact could be enormous.
In the case of Citicorp, JPMorganChase, Barclays, The Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS AG- the banks and traders designed the fraudulent scheme in online chat rooms referred to as “the mafia” and “the cartel.” United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch predictably failed to prosecute this criminal enterprise but did admit that the heist was a “brazen display of collusion” that affected “countless consumers, investors and institutions around the globe — from pension funds to major corporations and including the banks’ own customers.”
This concept may prove revolutionary. What would happen if, at the local and county level, citizens and their representatives took regional action against the felonious conduct of the big banks? Instead of looking at a Macro solution that has failed to materialize, perhaps people should use Santa Cruz as an example and boycott by micro-means. Civil protest has always started at the grassroot level until it becomes such a force that the states and federal government have no choice but to accept the inevitable.
To date, Santa Cruz Supervisors have contacted about 50 “progressive” cities nationwide to join them in their boycott, including about a dozen cities and counties in California’s uber-liberal and wealthy Bay Area- but have not disclosed the counties that have been contacted. These supervisors should be commended for being the first county supervisors nationwide to take action against banks that engage in policies detrimental to public policy and that are in fact illegal and criminal enterprises.
“It’s a bold step by the supervisors to do this. They’re taking a creative and direct response to the criminal practices of the big banks,” commented Walt McRee, an outspoken chairman of the Public Banking Institute, a nonprofit working to create publicly owned banks. “Whether or not other counties or cities will have the ability or the courage to do it remains to be seen.”
Apparently Santa Cruz County is now on Wall Street’s radar. In addition to inquiries from counties worldwide (countries like Australia and Ireland among others) – the supervisors have received emails from Wall Street finance workers who are fed up with the systemic culture of deception and fraud. Wall Street workers are looking for a venue to express their disapproval and the need for financial reform that will finally address the past decade’s Wall Street economic free-for-all at the expense of the middle and lower classes. The county claims that they will invest with other financial institutions including the Bank of the West and other sound financial institutions. However, the county may wish to “peak inside the hood” and conduct their due diligence before taking on smaller banks who may engage in similar practices.
The supervisors of Santa Cruz County should also be advised that their county records are in complete disarray, contain thousands of fabricated documents and go after the banks that circumvented the county’s recording laws. If the supervisors really want to take a stand- look at their country recording system and stop the banks from recording fabricated documents. Back in 2011 and 2012, Santa Cruz county cut ties with Barclays, JPMorganChase and Bank of America for deliberately rigging interest rates and other sketchy practices. If anyone can take a stand against banking practices that undermine the financial stability of a county’s financial holdings- it is Santa Cruz’s progressive thinking officials.
A revolution may be brewing by simply refusing to engage with banks that destroy the lives of ordinary Americans. Break the Banks!