Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Phishin' With Bonnie and Clyde

We keep being told that we're in the worst hole we've been in since the Thirties. Though it's too early to tell if this is a bona fide depression, it's being widely hailed (by those media minions who still have jobs) as "The Great Recession."

Gotta have a catchy name for it. Not that it makes the whole thing any easier to take. But hey, at least we know what to call it!

Among the many parallels between This One and That One, nearly eighty years ago, there's the surge in desperate crime. Not as violent, perhaps, as the gangland gunbattles of yore, but certainly just as banjo-twangingly, depravedly, folksily bold. For sure. No big names are likely to come out of these. Our Bonnies and Clydes are all anonymous.

I don't suppose what happened to me yesterday morning, when I checked my emails, was exactly the same as having a gun stuck in my face and my wallet demanded of me, but it was only slightly less bothersome. I got one bearing the Bank of America logo and informing me that there had been three unsuccessful log-in attempts to my online banking account. They said, therefore, that they "needed" my personal information verified (i.e. given to them), so they'd know that I was really me. If they did not receive this, they threatened, my account would be closed.

"Stick 'em up! Your money or your life! Don't talk back, and you won't get hurt!"

I called Bank of America, understandably mystified, since I don't do any online banking. (And this is probably why.)

When I read the email to the lady from the bank, she had a good laugh. This missive was the product of a mind bereft of even an eighth-grade education. "It's all about your security," it concluded. The education of the author seems to have come almost entirely from TV commercials.

"Yo,'s all good!"

The bank lady advised me to forward the email to their fraud department so they could check it out. I did, and an impressively short time later, they sent a message telling me that this was, indeed, an attempt at "phishing." They were polite about it, but they basically said they hoped I hadn't been dumb enough to give those creeps the information they were seeking.

Nice to know Bank of America is looking out for us. Especially since, thanks to our tax money, they are now wholly a subsidiary of us.

Thank you, no, I gave the creeps nothing. Usually, when I get something like this, I shoot back a reply wishing them "Happy phishing!" This time, I restrained myself from such small satisfactions.

I could almost hear those banjos dueling. This has been happening more and more often to me lately. An indication, I imagine, of desperate times.

The question that must be asked, of course, is the same one people probably used to ask the bandits of the Thirties: "Wouldn't it just be easier to look for a real job?"

Easier, maybe, but I guess not as much fun.

I don't think the corporate bigshots who've been robbing us all are having very much fun right now, because we have figured out their racket. More than a few of us are even trying -- on a much smaller scale -- to copy it. Too many of the small-fry will get away with it. But I don't guess too many more of the big phishies will.

At least in the old days, the gang-bangers robbed the people who were robbing everyone else. This is a part of what I'm getting at when I compare the morality of our response "now" to the people's response "then." The Bonnies and Clydes of today had just better remain anonymous. Were they to come out and proclaim themselves, We the People would tear them limb from limb.

The crooks aren't the only people getting desperate. And there are mega-many more of "us" than there are of "them."

We'll get all this sorted out together. The Great American Kleptocracy is going down, and it's going down hard. If we're able to bring this about soon enough, perhaps our "Great Recession" will lead not to another depression, but to a new, better and fairer prosperity.

Let's do some "phishing" of our own. Let's catch these crooks and nail 'em to the wall. All of 'em, of every size. We all know what happened to Bonnie and Clyde. May the big-time looters meet justice in an only slightly less bothersome way.



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