Letters to the Editor

JP Morgan Chase is an egregious offender | LETTER TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

The Occupy South Whidbey’s demonstration outside of the Freeland branch of the JP Morgan Chase bank may feel to some like an unwelcome invasion of the turbulent world into our quiet island.

I am a supporter of the OSW action for two reasons, albeit with a concern.

The first reason is that the JP Morgan Chase bank is one of the most egregious offenders in the scandalous collapse of the banking and housing mortgage industry. The long list of general charges and the 10,000 lawsuits against them illustrate practices that caused immense harm to thousands of people, and they must be held accountable for this. The demonstration before our small branch is not a demonstration against this branch itself so much as an expression of outrage against the practices of the central JP Morgan Chase bank and the greed behind the crisis.

The Occupy movement at this stage is primarily calling upon all citizens to learn about these practices and denounce the arrogance and harm they cause. But Chase, like the other huge banks, continues to reap large profits and pay huge salaries and bonuses all the while foreclosing on their irresponsible loans and causing economic strife for so many who trusted them. For a deeper analysis of the issues related to JP Morgan Chase and the financial crisis see www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=JP_Morgan_Chase_financial_crisis.

I have spent the majority of my professional life as a Quaker working in ecumenical and interfaith settings advocating for the poor, imprisoned and marginalized. Therefore, a second reason I support the Occupy movement, and OSW in particular, is that I consider this movement the contemporary expression of the age-old prophetic tradition of Hebrew scriptures and the teaching of Jesus. There may be no harsher condemnation of economic exploitation than is found in the voices of the Hebrew prophets. Micah, for example, complains that the rich “covet fields, and seize them; and houses, and take them away because it is the power of their hand,” (Micah 2:2) that is, because they can and do misuse people without being held accountable. And you can hardly turn the pages in the other prophetic teachings without similar judgements against economic exploitation of the poor, and it sounds a lot like they are speaking directly to attitudes of apparent unaccountability and the arrogance of power that concern us today. And throughout the teachings of Jesus, of course, there is a similar economic emphasis on calling for compassion and justice for the poor and the marginalized. Like the Occupy movement, the biblical prophetic voice is not just a condemnation of injustice, however, but a call for radical, systemic change that restores compassion and care for people over the power and privileges of corporations, governments and other “powers that be,” including greed and selfishness. In response, would that those in power (and all of us) be willing to follow Micah’s admonition to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God!” (Micah 6:8)

And finally my personal concern. I would hope that those of us who demonstrate against the Freeland Chase bank will distinguish between the individuals — our neighbors — who work at the bank and the practices of the national bank they serve. I want to believe the local staff offer conscientious and supportive service to their customers, and I suggest we simply encourage them to work for needed reforms within their institution.



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