Apparently, if you don’t willingly participate in this economy of greed and destruction — “willingly” being loosely defined as “with some degree of acceptance and authorization” — those in power will resort to actual theft to relieve you of the dollars you manage to harbor in the brief period between payday and bill paying day.
We all know of the graft inherent in NFT and other value-mining currencies. Most of us have the good sense to not go anywhere near that nonsense even if we had the money to waste (which is not the case for most of us with sense). For that matter most of us have more sense than to invest in any value-mining operation, not least the casino that is stock trading. When there is extra money, those of us with common sense invest it in real value, real things that promote welfare and good living. Not that many of us ever see extra money.
Well, this week I learned that this reluctance to “invest” in the wealth accumulation of those who already have much more than they could spend in a lifetime has not gone unnoticed. Or at least, they decided that it was time I cough up come cash and took matters into their own grubby (but virtual) hands.
On Sunday, I logged into my credit union account to verify my balance before paying my end of the month bills. The balance was substantially lower than expected, like somewhere around half of what I thought it should be. For a moment I thought I had my days confused — because I just don’t do things that can spend enough money to have lost that much on accident. But then as I was scrolling through the week to figure out how I could be this far off, I found an online card withdrawal for $1000 to Robinhood Securities that was initiated on Saturday the 11th and cleared my bank on Sunday the 12th.
I did not spend that money. (I have the sneaking suspicion that my bank card was compromised because I’ve used it on PayPal these past few months of unemployment.) Like most people, I vaguely know that Robinhood exists but could not tell you anything concrete about them. If there is anything concrete about them. Which does not appear to be true. But regardless I did not allow them to take $1000 that I have only temporarily in my bank account before that money goes off to pay for my existence. However, Robinhood, or someone acting through them, decided to take that money.
Robinhood is having a very bad time of it. Their intangibility is turning into un-fungibility rather drastically. Their assets (including my $1000) are now worth less than their existing stock. That is, they owe their stock owners more cash than the company has on hand. This is not normally a problem for corporations. Fracking has been carrying on with this level of negative net worth since its inception. But then most fossil fuel companies have other sources of cash flow, including the entire financial industry throwing money at them. (Again, not entirely with the consent of those who have invested… as they are taking from sources like the pension funds of teachers and state employees…) However, Robinhood has no other game but taking money and giving promises, and this game has seemingly played itself out.
I’ve no doubt that Vlad and his white-guy, tech-bro cronies will come out of this game with at least millions, if not billions in personal assets. I’m fairly certain that that is the only point to Robinhood, to rob the poor and enrich their already wealthy selves. (Because they aren’t even that creative in their cynicism…) The Poor evidently includes old women with small credit union accounts in Vermont. It makes for depressingly bad melodrama. If I tried to write this story, nobody would believe it. And yet here were are…
Robinhood, even with my $1000 and likely the bank account skimmings from millions of others, will still tank this summer, after Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev and his buddies have donned their golden parachutes and bailed. Their victims, me included, will slip further into the yawning cracks in late capitalism. I don’t know how I’m going to pay my mortgage this month. I’m already hurting from this long stint of unemployment. A $1000 loss is not something I can recover from. My only hope is that when the credit union opens today, I’ll be able to persuade them to put the money back… though that probably means a loss for them. Because I’m fairly sure that Robinhood will never return the money they stole. I’m fairly sure there is already no money to return. That $1000 has disappeared into the black hole that is value mining. It was only a promise of real, tangible value anyway. Now it truly does not exist.
Because, yep, that’s how our economy works these days… We’ve gone from the greed of late capitalism to the desperation of collapse. I suspect my story will become pretty common as we wade deeper into the looming chaos…
May you have better luck holding on to your dollars… as long as they are worth something real… and if you have any hate to spare, please send it to Vlad…
for June 22, 2022
I was going to talk about the solstice and Midsummer and other delightful topics this week. But this theft has rather taken all the wind out of my sails. But here is the word prompt in any case…
©Elizabeth Anker 2022
Wednesdays are open posts. Anything you feel like sharing (except the usual injunctions against foul messaging).