A good way to register your objection to the big banks' bonuses: Move your money

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Mark W. Benjamin
Mark W. Benjamin is a criminal defense attorney in Cambridge, Minn.
Photo Courtesy of Mark W. Benjamin

Did you hear the news? The Dow Jones is up and our Great Recession is over. At least that's what the Big Banks think.

They've had a good year, the Big Banks, even though their unrestrained greed nearly destroyed our entire financial system. They've had such a good year that they want to spread the wealth.

Not to us, mind you, but to their lucky executives, who are getting huge bonuses. How huge? With the help of a trillion or so freshly printed dollar bills, Goldman Sachs will shovel out bonuses averaging $595,000; JPMorgan Chase, $463,000.

Well done!

I'm happy for our Big Banks and their success. After all, if they fail, America fails. Our businesses close, our jobs disappear, our health insurance evaporates, our mortgages default, our 401k plans go poof and we line up for bread, bankruptcy or both. And as America's economy plummets, so do state and local tax reserves that pay our teachers, police officers and firefighters. Libraries shut their doors, parks go to pasture and roads sprout potholes. Bad stuff. So I'm happy for our Big Banks and their success.

What? All of that bad stuff happened anyway, except for the banks failing part?

In the face of such widespread misery, you would think the Big Banks might refrain from such graphic displays of shameless and slobbery six-figure affection. But no. It's business as usual, or better. The Great Recession taught them that they can continue gambling our money with high-risk lending. If they win, they get big profits. If they lose, they get big bailouts. Either way, they get big bonuses.

Let's face it. The Big Banks have become rude, selfish and arrogant, like the bad boys in relationship advice columns. We've read about the woman who makes pathetic excuses for her no-good, abusive boyfriend. He takes her money, gambles it away at the track, comes home drunk and slaps her. Later, he apologizes, says things will get better and he will change. She believes him, gives him more money and the cycle repeats itself.

It's time to wash these bad boy Big Banks out of our hair and take up with a nice boy Little Bank from down the street. You know the one? He's plain, pimply and soft-spoken. But he respects you and will treat you right.

Are you in an abusive relationship with a bad boy Big Bank that gambles with your money, charges exorbitant fees and overdraft expenses and cuts your line of credit down to the bone? Would you like to be in a respectful fiduciary relationship with a nice boy Little Bank or credit union that serves you, your community and local businesses? I sure did and Arianna Huffington helped. Her Move Your Money website matched me up with a nice boy Little Bank right down the street. If you're feeling like a codependent depositor, try it and find the bank or credit union that's right for you. Then move your money.

I did and things have been great. Of course, abusive relationships don't always end smoothly. Last night, my old bank called on the phone crying. It said that it was sorry, that it missed me, and asked if I had any money. I hung up.

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Mark W. Benjamin is a criminal defense attorney in Cambridge, Minn.

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