You not only needed to have a plausible need for a loan from the bank, but you needed to defend its validity, to provide proof of repayment and to be a person with an upstanding. reputation. Bankers were upholders of law and morality. At least, that was the way I thought about bankers in pre-World War II days. This, despite the fact that a local banker, in collusion with a real estate broker, transferred money due my grandmother at my grandfather’s death to that broker.
Today the big banks’ questionable actions regarding government bail-out funds and subsequent executive bonuses, has badly tarnished their reputations. But why should this matter to them? They have the cash and they determine who gets it and under what conditions.
But the people of Holland recently said, “Enough,” and took action. According to the Guardian Weekly of April 1, thousands of Dutch customers were outraged at pay packages at the Amsterdam-based bank, ING, and especially at a $1.7 million bonus in the works for Jon Hommon, ING’s chief executive. “ ─so severe was the public reaction that within days Hommen had agreed to waive the award and told other ING directors to do the same.”
Here in the United States bankers have fared much better. Compared with U.S. bonuses, the Dutch bonuses were relatively small. Hommen’s proposed $1.7 million bonus was negligible, quite negligible, in light of senior bankers at Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan who will receive windfalls of about $68 million each.. This travesty adds to the rapidly increasing gap between the wealthy of this country and the rest of us. As of December, 2010 the richest 1% of U.S. citizens owned 40% of the total property of the country while 80% owned just 16%. The U.S. has the greatest income inequality between the rich and the poor of all the industrialized nations in the world.
What to do? Someone might suggest that large numbers of bank customers could threaten to withdrawn money unless salaries and bonuses of bankers were brought in line with other businesses, or─ a sizeable excess profits tax could be levied against corporations. I, of course, would never make such suggestions. Otherwise, the FBI might charge me as being a threat to security, the security, that is, of the banks.