Addicted to novelty since 2001

Bank Transfer Day and the power of specificity

This fall, roughly 700,000 Americans abandoned their banks and transferred an estimated US $4.5 billion to credit unions. This collective act of protest was inspired by Kristen Christian, a gallery owner from Los Angeles. She devised Bank Transfer Day after being frustrated by her bank’s “outrageous fees to banks for a severe lack of services”. The protest reflected a grown frustration with financial institutions, best demonstrated by the collective outrage at Bank of America’s proposed $5 monthly debit card usage fee (the bank subsequently backed away from this fee).

Regardless of how you feel about banks and credit unions, this is a terrific protest. It’s specific, easily understandable, anybody with a bank account can participate, and it speaks a language the targeted institutions understand: filthy lucre. Admittedly, Bank of America’s assets total US $2.2 trillion, but when an industry loses 700,000 customers, meetings will be taken, and changes may be made.

I mention Bank Transfer Day because it stands in sharp contrast to the murky, apparently leaderless Occupy movement. Bank Transfer Day was started by a specific person, with a specific goal in mind. As I said in my previous post on this topic, specificity matters.

I’m not claiming that the Occupy movement is entirely without merit. As I already wrote, I hope it coalesces into something with a narrower, more achievable purview. And I hope they take lessons from Bank Transfer Day.

9 Responses to “Bank Transfer Day and the power of specificity”

  1. kk+

    how about you take a minute and speak about it’s merits then?

    Darren Reply:

    I’m not obligated to argue both sides of a debate. I invite you to speak to its merits.

    That said, I did point out in my previous post that I think the American Occupy movement has potential to evolve into a Tea Party of the Left. That’s meritorious.

  2. kk+

    bank transfer day is rad but it’s just moving the mess around without really making any substantive change.

  3. Richard Murray

    I’m not sure it’s all that murky if you’re not watching CNN or MSNBC or FOX… Sure, you might hear 30 different personal reasons if you ask 30 different people at an Occupy site, but that’s because there’s a lot wrong.

    The occupywallstreet.net site has the principles, etc, pretty nicely laid out.

    As to end game? Sure, that’s not exactly clear, but this isn’t a black and white, single issue problem. This is a demand to be included in the discussion – in the democracy that’s been actively avoiding a huge chunk of the population…

    Darren Reply:

    ‘Murky’ may not have been the best word choice, but I meant ‘varied and vague’.

    Do you think that Canada, as a democracy, has been a ignoring a huge chunk of population? If so, who is that chunk?

    Bruce Reply:

    The chunk that cannot afford a lobby group to represent them.

    The Occupy movement, from what I have seen, is attempting to illustrate that the system itself has become exploitative of the masses. And democratic government, although a social equalization and protection mechanism initially, has been co-opted by those with enough money, to bend the rules to maximize their own wealth creation, albeit slowly and over time.

    However the protesters too have to admit that they are somewhat culpable in mess they currently find themselves in. Rampant overspending and the “I deserve it now, not later” mentality also contributed to things getting so far out of balance.

    The fix in my mind will be like a doctor treating a shotgun wound. If he concentrates too much on an individual pellet hole (specific issues), the patient will bleed out. He has to stop the bleeding first.

  4. Michael

    Losing almost million customers and 4.5 billion in equity in just one day will make Bank thinking if they re doing right thing, because they can’t predict if people will join for second Transfer day but only this time some few million will participate in this.

  5. 205guy

    Darren wrote: “American Occupy movement has potential to evolve into a Tea Party of the Left. That’s meritorious.”

    Wow, talk about damning with faint praise. You probably mean a movement that includes candiates who get elected and influence their sitting peers. However, to most of the left, the Tea Party stands for Koch Brothers-financed astroturf, planted candidates, and for those who do get into office, political grandstanding and obstruction to gain attention.

    Somehow, this doesn’t surprise me of you. Please try again.

    As for OWS standing for some platform, why? Why can’t someone protest out of general sense of malaise and rampant dissatisfaction? I actually think it is a genius “tactic” (and a genuine one too, in that it was spontaneous, not calculated). Opponents would love to have planks to shoot at or shoot down, or even to compromise on and make it look like demands are being met. As long as there is enough general dissatisfaction to brave the cold, it is a good tactic.

  6. FrancesB

    The Occupy movement is actually a lot more coherent than is portrayed in the media, and it has several very coherent demands. The Guardian published a very important story that explains that these reasons are actually the motive behind the violent crackdown on the protestors – that politicians stop legislating to benefit companies in which they have vested interests.

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