After the banks created our economic crisis, we, the people, bailed them out – to the tune of $15,000 for each adult and child in the United States. But where is our recovery?

Some members of the American Bankers Association, in Chicago for a convention, are touring the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio on Monday, Oct. 26. The bankers’ association, which represents the “mega banks” that control more than 80 percent of bank assets, dumped us into the “Great Recession,” forcing some students to forego college, some seniors to forego retirement and everyone to forego a sense of well being for the foreseeable future.

Last year 208 properties in Oak Park went into foreclosure; this year it is projected to be 162 properties, with many more to come in 2010. That’s 370 families leaving Oak Park! What a hardship! What a loss to all of us!

Despite predatory lending, a stock market crash and bringing the world to the brink of collapse, the bankers’ association is lobbying to dilute and, if possible, defeat the proposal to create a Consumer Finance Protection Agency.

The bankers’ association adamantly opposes that banks be required to offer “plain vanilla” mortgages. It opposes the “reasonableness standard” that would require banks to make sure their customers understand the products they are buying and can afford them. The bankers’ association claims that these proposals would put them in an “untenable position,” meaning they would make less profit. Instead of over 35 percent of total business profits being reaped by the financial sector, it would drop to about 30 percent. (In the 1970s, this figure was less than 20 percent.) In the meantime, banks are scurrying about to find places to hide additional fees for our bank accounts and credit cards.

We, the people, along with the smaller neighborhood banks, most of which have acted responsibly throughout the crisis, must pressure the mega banks to stop fighting the reform measures designed to prevent this crisis from happening again.

The time has come for the people to come together to tell the mega-bankers that their unscrupulous practices must end. Their lobbying efforts to minimize consumer protections must end. Their inhumane bonuses must end. Their hoarding of the recovery money must end. The “Greed is Good” era must end. These are not the values the founders of our country had in mind in establishing our democracy. These are not the tenets of our faith traditions. These are not the principles by which we raise our children.

Where is our collective voice? Where can we go to express our common desire for the common good? Where can we go to start making change for the banking industry?

We can go to the Wright Home and Studio on Oct. 26 at 10:15 a.m. to respectfully join our voices together and to let the world know that Oak Park, once again, spoke truth to power.

The Rev. C.J. Hawking is the Harry F. Ward Pastor of Social Justice at Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church in Oak Park. She lives in Oak Park with her husband and two daughters.

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