Typically, I’m not much of an activist. My support for causes that I believe in tends to be quiet and personal – I’ve never been one to shout from the rooftops and tell others how they should think, feel or act. This time around though, I’m stepping out of my box.

We’ve all read countless stories about how the insatiable greed of Wall Street financial institutions has led them to take ridiculous risks with OUR money, and deserve a large share of the blame for the global economic meltdown that continues to impact just about everyone I know. With our economic system on the verge of collapse, in an unprecedented move, the US taxpayers gave hundreds of billions of dollars to these “too-big-to-fail” banks (namely Citibank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase) in order to prop them up and keep our economy from imploding. These institutions survived only because the US taxpayers stepped in to save them.

One would think they’d be grateful, perhaps a little humble in the aftermath. But no. How do these mega-banks  show their appreciation? By screwing us, in every imaginable way, to restore their profits and feed the Wall Street beast. OUR money is not being used for loans to small business to get the economy rolling again, as intended. OUR money is not being reinvested in communities. OUR money is being hoarded to offset corporate losses and shore up their own balance sheets. OUR money is being used to pay lobbyists in Washington to go to battle against reforms that would protect us from another catastrophe.

These banks have also been very aggressive – more so than ever – in screwing consumers out of billions of dollars through predatory fees and deceptive banking practices. When Congress stepped in to try to put an end to such tactics, the banks used the time period leading up to the new rules’ effective date to pre-emptively raise interest rates and enact even more penal terms on their customers. The greed and arrogance is reprehensible. The biggest banks are now profitable once again, and, blind to the devastation that remains in the wake of their irresponsibility, have decided to reward themselves with billions of dollars in bonus pay.

Pissed yet? You should be. There is a very easy and effective solution. Move your money out of the “too-big-to-fail” banks, and into community-based banks and credit unions. The idea was spawned over the holidays by Arianna Huffington and Rob Johnson of the Huffington Post, which just happens to be the most widely-read blog on the planet (see the link in my blogroll to the left). This post explains the “how and why” and points out how it’s a better deal for consumers as well. Please, if you never click on another link in my blog again, click this one and read it. And, do us all a favor and forward this to everyone you know!

By putting our deposits in local banks and credit unions instead of the big four Wall Street banks, we give control of that money back to the people that live and work in our communities, where that money is most likely to be reinvested. It’s so simple, one has to wonder why we haven’t been doing this all along. I applaud the idea, and I am thrilled to see that it’s gaining a lot of traction, not only around the blogosphere, but in the real world as well. Even local and state governments are starting to transfer some of their cash into smaller, local banks, and that can make a real difference, real fast.

Wall Street does what it does because, so far, we’ve let them get away with it. We happily play victim to their perverse loyalties. Not me – not any more. We’re looking at refinancing our house in California, and we’ll be using a credit union this time around. By the way, did you know that credit unions are non-profit institutions? We’ve been customers for some time now, and we love it. With better interest rates on loans and savings deposits, and friendly service, I actually feel more like a valued client rather than a revenue target. And, every extra dollar they bring in is returned to their members (account holders) as dividends. Is that cool or what?

How about you? Are you angry enough to do something about it, or are you going to let Wall Street continue to have its way with you and your money?