I should start this out with a disclaimer. I worked as a financial planner and stock broker for 25 years and really didn’t begin to grasp the true mechanics of the financial system until nearly 10 years in. It took even longer for the magnitude of the crony capitalist corruption to sink in. I was indoctrinated by book and exam, scored extremely high in the various licensing and accreditation examinations (meaning I had fully swallowed my programming) and successfully parroted what I had learned.
It was only when the stink from the long dead skunk in the woodpile became overwhelming and could no longer be ignored did I begin to probe and seriously question both the financial ‘authorities’, the prevailing financial meme and myself. So when I come across others who are following the same path while blindfolded I am not casting stones. Instead, I am illustrating how we are all deeply immersed in many alternative reality memes even as I focus on this one in particular.
That said, let me begin.
I walked into a branch of ‘my’ bank the other day to make a deposit. It was mid afternoon and clearly a slow period for the bank because there were four tellers available and not another ‘customer’ in sight. Proving to all I was well trained and obedient, I followed the velvet and gold rope lined customer cattle chute and waited passively at the head of the ‘line’ to be summoned.
Thankfully the wait was not long.
The teller (Anna) greeted me pleasantly (obviously grateful for the distraction I afforded her) and asked how she could be of assistance. Stating my purpose, I plopped down my fake fiat and promptly engaged her in small talk. Having worked in the main branch of a bank as the resident financial planner (aka financial product salesman) for nearly ten years, I fully understand how monotonous the teller position can be at times.
As she was finishing up the paperwork and printing my ‘receipt’ I made an offhand comment that was initially greet with pleasant indifference. I said, “Now I am a creditor of the bank.”
After a little chuckle as if to acknowledge a joke, she made a fatal mistake. She actually thought about what I had just said and an internal bell sounded an alarm. She looked startled and concerned as she blurted, “Wait. You’re not a creditor. This is your money you just deposited.”
I was dutifully impressed she understood what a creditor was. And equally saddened she did not know of the true relationship between depositor and bank. If Mrs. Cog had been with me, she might have kicked me in the shin at that point, the universal spousal signal to go no further or hell would be paid.
Alas, she was not at my side. So I dove right in.
“That is no longer my money. It is now the banks money and I am a creditor of the bank” I answered. Her face went blank since what I said did not properly compile with ‘known data’ nor compute as even possible.
She insisted even more strenuously a second time, adopting her school mom tone of voice. “No, this is your money,” she assured me. Obviously I was a seriously misinformed customer who needed to be schooled.
I hesitated for a moment, considering if I had the time and inclination to engage in battle. Thankfully I had both. But I was determined to be pleasant and instructive, not combative and arrogant. Teaching moments should not be squandered by egoic displays of imagined superiority. I had been there and done that. And I had been, and continue to be, deeply humbled by my abject ignorance and gullibility.
The teller, interpreting my momentary silence as a sign of defeat, quickly turned back to her work with a slight victorious smile on her face. I would not be deterred.
“Who has possession of that money?” I asked, pointing in the general direction of her cash drawer. “We do” she replied. “And what do I have in my hand?” I said as I waved a piece of paper in the air. “Your deposit receipt” was her answer. Clearly she was intelligent because I could see a change in her facial expression. I was up to something, since I had not slinked out of the branch to lick my intellectual wounds in private.
“So this receipt in my hand is proof that you now have “my” money, correct?” I was careful to air quote around the spoken “my”.
“Yeeessss” she warily replied. This is banking 101, she must have thought.
“So it’s not my money any more. It’s the bank’s money and I am owed the money by the bank and here is the proof.” This was not a question from me, but rather a blanket statement.
“But your money is here in the bank. It’s your money.” she answered. Circular logic is inescapable and always satisfying since it leads you back to where you want to be.
I continued undaunted. “Since I have a checking account, also known as a demand deposit account, I can walk into any branch of the bank and ‘demand’ my money….right?” Anna did not respond, waiting instead to see where I was going with this line of thought.
“That sounds like I just made a loan to the bank and I can ask for that loan back at any time for any reason.” I paused to let it sink in. “If the bank makes a loan to me, say to go on vacation, is the money the bank gave me my money or the banks money once the loan is final and I have the money in my hand?” This time I waited for an answer. I needed to make sure she acknowledged my thought process before moving on.
The confusion evident on her face indicated she was receiving internal error messages from her brain. This was confirmed when she repeated her last known ‘fact’.
“But the money in your account is yours.”
Recognizing the futility of her answer, she immediately turned to her right and called out for someone. I quickly learned it was the head teller. “Cathy” finished what she was doing and moved on down the line to greet me.
“Cathy. This man has a question.” Anna helpfully explained as she washed her hands of any responsibility for the discussion. As trained, anything above her pay grade is promptly kicked on up the line to a higher authority.
I explained what I had was not a question, but instead a conversation. Briefly relating the gist of what was said, I then paused and waited.
There’s an old saying in sales. Once you reach the decision point and have asked for the sale, shut up and wait. The first person to speak loses. If you speak first, you are rowing against the tide and the sale is unlikely. If the customer speaks first, regardless of what s/he says, they are on the defensive and the sale is more likely. At that point it’s just about countering their objections and not if they actually want the product or service.
Cathy remained silent for at least 10 seconds, long enough for Anna to grow extremely uncomfortable. Her head bounced back and forth between me and Cathy as if watching a Championship tennis match.
Finally Cathy responded. “Technically it’s not a loan, but I get your point.” Then she reverted back to her own personal programming. “But the money in your account is yours.”
I quickly responded. “A creditor is someone who is owed money. The bank is the creditor when they make that vacation loan to me. If I don’t pay it back, the bank can take me to court and I will be forced to pay it back. I just lent the bank the money I deposited. What happens if the bank doesn’t pay me back when I demand ‘my’ money?” As soon as I finished I realized I had lost both of them because I stated an impossible thing.
“Of course the bank will pay you back.” It seems Cathy, who appeared in be in her mid 40’s, doesn’t remember the 2008-2009 Great Financial Crisis when banks were failing on a daily basis.
“Besides” she followed up, “there’s FDIC insurance if there’s ever a problem.”
Game, set and match for Cathy.
I decided to try one more time and then beat a hasty retreat if I failed to break through her Cognitive Dissonance.
“How much is the FDIC insurance?” I asked, knowing full well the answer.
This one was easy because Anna spoke up first when she announced “Two Hundred Fifty Thousand dollars per account.” Cathy beamed at her prodigy.
While technically incorrect, I didn’t want to quibble.
“What happens if I have three hundred thousand and the bank goes bankrupt?” I knew what her answer would be and I wasn’t disappointed. We all revert back to our default programming when sufficiently disturbed or jostled.
“You shouldn’t have that much in an account” she lectured. “There are ways to structure different accounts to protect all your money.” Thank God, I thought.
“I agree. But let’s say the money grew in the account while I’m on vacation and it’s now three hundred. What happens?” I had now guided them into uncharted territory where sea monsters reside. Anna looked at Cathy with pleading eyes, begging her to slay the dragons.
And then more silence.
While there was no sign of actual panic in Cathy’s demeanor, she was not comfortable being Cathy at that moment. When she finally spoke, it was to state the obvious. “Then you would have a problem.”
Making my final point I said “Would you then agree I would be a creditor to the bank and would be owed money. And I would appear in bankruptcy court along with the landlord who is owed the rent, the utility companies, the people who plow the driveway and clean the bank along with you and your fellow employees who have not been paid?”
I deliberately included them not being paid to make it personal and not just a hypothetical musing. It found its target.
“They would never do that.” Anna triumphantly declared. Back to default programming once again.
I carried on. “While my deposit is not technically called a loan, for all practical purposes it is a loan since I no longer physically have the money, but just a promise to be paid the money in the future. If the bank goes under, I’m still owed the money and must use legal means to collect it. While it is the law that you the employees must be paid first, then the customers, then everyone else, if there is no money to be paid, no one gets paid.”
Cathy digested my closing argument, said “Yes”, then turned and walked back up the teller aisle without saying another word. As far as she was concerned it was a moot point since these things could NEVER happen. Anna looked crestfallen and wanted nothing else to do with me. Be gone bad man.
Ouch…that’s gonna leave a mark.
There is simply no way to break down a Cognitive Dissonance in a polite and pleasant manner. At best it is considered rude to do so. At worse…well…the result is almost always confusion, anger, sorrow and loss combined with a sense of betrayal usually directed at the messenger. Because we are so heavily invested in the prevailing memes, they will not go quietly into the night when dispatched with logic, common sense and critical thinking.
There was more to the discussion, including parts left out in the interest of brevity. The point is these two people, both who have worked in ‘banking’ for several years, really are unaware and misinformed as to what is actually occurring right in front of them on a daily basis.
And while banking and the financial system is not well understood by either the layperson, nor by the vast majority of those who work within the system, the fact is you and I operate within the financial system in particular, and the Matrix in general, with a remarkable degree of faith and belief that someone somewhere knows what the hell is going on and will keep the system operating smoothly.
In so many ways we all believe in the Wizard of Oz, or at least many Wizards of Oz, which enables both our fleecing and those who fleece us. I find it remarkable they teach sex education in public and private schools, a subject of intense personal discomfort for teens and adults alike, yet the average Jane and Joe graduates from the education system with no factual knowledge of what the financial system is or how it works. For the most part, the students aren’t even instructed on how to balance a checkbook, manage their money, apply for a loan or do their taxes.
This isn’t a bug in the system, but rather a supremely beneficial feature for the few who control the money system. The real question is, why do we tolerate this unequal division of knowledge? The answer is, of course, because we are programmed to accept it as ‘normal’.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming already in progress.