THE BLOG
05/16/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Banks Declare War on America

"F.U., USA!"

New Coalition of Bankrupters Launched:

F U, U & U & F the USA

Where is the fury now? The populists with pitchforks who screamed bloody murder at the A.I.G. bonuses are not saying nearly enough, or screaming loudly enough, about an even more outrageous action by the recently bankrupt banks that have now had the impudence to hike credit card interest rates sharply, even on customers who have always been current in their payments.

The banks have joined together to form an offensive alliance that has, in effect, declared war on the United States, its people, and its economy. An accurate name for this coalition of bankers would be "F U, U & U & F the USA."

2009-04-16-BanksAgainstAmerica.jpg

Or, more simply, this Bankers Axis of Evil, which includes Citibank, Amex, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Capitol One, could be called by a variant of the name of another of its members, not The Bank of America, but The Banks Against America.

We, through the government aid they received, gave them a helping hand; now they give us The Finger.

I called Citibank when I saw the increase in my rate. The customer representative said to me, "Oh, that was nothing aimed at you personally; we did it to everyone, because of the bad economy." I burst out laughing.

These rate increases--some to as high as 29 percent--are exactly the opposite of what the bad economy needs for recovery. They mean that much larger shares of the income of many people will have to go into interest payments, rather than the new purchases that would help bring the economy back.

Weapons of Mass Depression

These obscene interest rates are the latest in a series of the banks' launches of their Weapons of Mass Depression at the American people and our economy.

By these actions, the perpetrators reveal themselves once again to be not bankers, but bankrupters. Through their greed in the past, they brought their banks to the edge of bankruptcy; through their greed in the present, they are pushing many middle-class Americans to the edge of bankruptcy.

This is class warfare with a twist. It's not a war between the rich and the poor so much as it is a war by the rich against the middle class.

The ridiculous rate increases are probably not even in the selfish interests (the only interests that concern them) of the banks. They are likely to force many more people into bankruptcy and default on their balances.

Their attitude seems to be that if the economy is going to go under, they will go first-class on the Titanic.

The Fed effectively lowers the interest rate that banks pay to zero and the banks respond by raising the interest rates they charge to levels that used to be charged only by organized criminals. We can draw the appropriate conclusion about what the organized bankers have become. The criminal loan sharks of the past have been displaced by "legitimate" loan T-rexes of the present.

The banks' policy is MAD: Mutually Assured Depression. They must be stopped. NOW.

As the American people bail out these bankrupters in their sinking yachts, they throw the water back on us, submerging our lifeboats and drowning us: Soak the middle class. Beat the fingers of those clinging to the sides of the lifeboat.

While Republicans and the Faux News faithful were holding their silly "tea parties" (those who think that spending during a near-depression is a bad idea may also be so deluded that they will think that raising interest rates on consumers in a near-depression is a good idea), the banks have been holding their pee-parties.

This is trickle-down with extraordinary vengeance. What's trickling down on us establishes us as peons--or, rather, pee-ons.

We, the people, through our taxes, have poured sustenance into the top end of the bandit banks, and they have thanked us releasing excrement on us from the other end.

Succor the rich and tell the rest of us to suck on it.

These irresponsible banks tell their responsible customers that an "increase is necessary because times are tough" and that what they euphemistically call "re-pricing" is needed to "reflect current economic conditions."

Do they think we are that stupid? Are we?

Rise up Americans! Open your windows and shout (or, much better, telephone, email, or write the President, your senators and member of Congress, television and radio stations, your newspapers, blogs--and your friends and neighbors) and shout:

"We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore!"

Americans vs. Predators: Demand a Strong Federal Usury Law

President Obama and Democrats (one would hope a number of Republicans, too) should join together to say to the bankrupters what the first President Bush did to Saddam Hussein after the invasion of Kuwait: "This will not stand!"

Let us insist that laws be enacted that establish a federal usury standard at a reasonable rate and that such rates be made retroactive for all credit card accounts. (There will, of course, be howls about the sanctity of contracts, but the fine print that allows one contractor to change the rules whenever he feels like it and to do to the other essentially whatever the hell he wants to should not be considered a valid contract.)

We can call the battle Americans vs. Predators.

A federal usury law with real teeth will be tough on South Dakota and Delaware, but they chose to legalize larceny and they have benefitted long enough at the expense of millions of others.

As we protect our commerce from seafaring pirates off the African coast, let us also reclaim our country and our economy from these land-based American pirates.

{Historian Robert S. McElvaine is Elizabeth Chisholm Professor of Arts & Letters at Millsaps College & author of:

The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941 2009-04-15-TGD2.gif (Random House) and

Down and Out in the Great Depression: Letters from the "Forgotten Man" 2009-04-16-DandO2.jpg (North Carolina).

His latest book is Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America 2008-07-01-GTJcoversm.jpg (Crown).}