"This book is dedicated to the young people of America, who are rebelling because they know something is very wrong in their country, but do not know just what it is. I hope this book will help to enlighten them. The historical background and the political background of this novel are authentic. The "Committee for Foreign Studies" does indeed exist, today as of yesterday, and so does the "Scardo Society," but not by these names.
There is indeed a "plot against the people" and probably always will be, for government has always been hostile towards the governed."
Social might is now moving toward your community, state, nation as well as global corporations.
We have entered the age of empowered individuals, who use potent new technologies and harness social media to organize themselves. Most are ordinary people with new tools to force you to listen to what they care about and to demand respect. The institutions of modern developed societies, whether governments or companies, are not prepared for this social power.
There's little doubt that the American middle class—the 40% of households with annual incomes between $50,000 and $140,000 a year—is in distress. Even before the recession, incomes of American middle-class families weren't keeping up with inflation, especially with the rising costs of what are considered the essential ingredients of middle-class life—college education, health care and housing. In 2009, the income of the median family, the one smack in the middle of the middle, was lower, adjusted for inflation, than in 1998, the Census Bureau says.
Banking in America has moved from "credit economy" of community banking (where the local banker knew his clients and who to extend credit to) into a "financial economy" where big global banks hold and leverage your cash.
Bank of America's transition from a San Francisco-based community bank to a huge financial corporation deep in undeclared Countrywide home mortgage financing losses is a perfect case to illustrate this transition to big global financial banking.
In 1904, A.P. Giannini, a son of Italian immigrants, founded the Bank of Italy in San Francisco with the vision that banks should serve more than the fortunate few.
In 1906, the great San Francisco earthquake gave him the opportunity to make his vision a reality. Rushing into the shattered city, he managed to have $80,000 in gold loaded onto a horse cart covered with vegetables before fire consumed the bank building. Other banks' vaults would be too hot to open for weeks.
He was open for business the next day at a makeshift desk in North Beach, offering to lend money "on a face and a name." Offering loans of $10 to $300 to anyone who had a job, Giannini convinced those in the working class that they should turn their tin cans of savings over to his bank.
Giannini later popularized home mortgages, auto loans, and other pioneering forms of consumer credit. His renamed Bank of America became the largest bank in the world and, a few years after his death in 1949, introduced the another new concept: the credit card. Personally, I signed up for my BankAmericard in 1965, while living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it is still my primary credit card.
Over the last few decades, the US has transformed from a "credit based economy" (where capital market manias tend to be contained by the availability of savings and credit) to a "financial economy" where the unlimited availability of credit leads to speculative bubbles (read: the roaring '20s & '90s) which get totally out of hand.
More than 1.3 million of the bank’s customers are behind on their home loans, all 50 state attorneys general are investigating the industry’s foreclosure practices and Bank of America has become a leading symbol of the mortgage mess.
Here are eleven facts about the nation’s biggest banks: