“I always believed getting an education was the only way to succeed in life. Now I regret it every single day.”—Donna DeNaro, from The Trouble is the Banks excerpted in The Best Business Writing 2013
The Trouble is the Banks comes from a volume published by n+1 which includes letters from Occupy the Boardroom, a site that collects letters to banks and financial institution in the wake of the 2008 collapse. A portion of The Trouble is the Banks is included in The Best Business Writing 2013. Here’s an excerpt:
Please Don’t Harass My Father Any Further
To: Lloyd H. Dean, Wells Fargo
In May 2007, I became the first person in my immediate family to get a degree, at age 38. I graduated owing more than $100,000 in private student loans. Payments were more than $1,100 per month. My 74-year-old retired father is the cosigner for most of these loans, but in September 2008, my dad lost $70,000 of his pension with the banks’ collapse.
In December 2009, after just one year in the workforce, I was laid off due to cut-backs. For most of 2010, I wasn’t able to find steady employment. In January 2011, I ran out of deferment with my private student loans. The banks began chasing my father as the cosigner. They have wrecked his line of credit and called in his home equity loan on which he never missed any payments.
In June 2011, my father saw a lawyer to try to get the payments reduced to something proportionate to his fixed income. In October 2011, he got word that the lawyer failed to get payments reduced enough. My dad wrote me a letter saying he had to sell his life insurance and rearrange his will to protect my sister and stepmom.
The letter arrived last Saturday.
He had a stroke on Sunday.
Now Wells Fargo is harassing him for payment of another student loan.
I am asking you to please suspend collection actions against my father until I have a job that will pay me enough to make the payments myself.
I always believed getting an education was the only way to succeed in life. Now I regret it every single day.
Durham, NC 27701
I Didn’t Buy a House
I knew I couldn’t afford a house, but I hoped that someday if I kept working hard, I’d be able to. Those zero-money-down, everybody-qualifies loan offers flooded my mailbox, but I didn’t bite because I knew my income couldn’t carry that much debt.
I’ve been a renter my whole life. Thanks to the actions of a greedy few, the economy has tanked and living the American Dream is farther out of reach for people like me than ever.
When people play by the rules but don’t get rewards, and see others cheating and being rewarded despite the harm they cause, deep, seething anger is the result.
This social movement to hold financial institutions accountable for wrongdoing and to create a system of economic justice for all is just getting started.
We will create change because we’re not just disaff ected hippies. We’re the disaffected middle class. And we’re huge.
Like a large majority of the middle class, I don’t have a ton of money in one of your banks, but I have a regular paycheck and savings that I cultivate consistently. Very soon, I’ll be closing my accounts and moving to a credit union or a small community bank. I’ll do everything I can, socially, politically, and economically, to help move the society I live in out of corporate domination and into a state of proper democracy where citizens can play by fair rules and reap earned rewards.
I’m willing to wait for my house. I’m willing to work for a better future not just for myself, but for future generations as well. There’s a lot of people like me out there.
How many of you are there? What are you willing to work for?
Los Angeles, CA 90068