How would you feel if someone told you that one of the largest banks on Wall Street makes more money whenever the number of Americans on food stamps goes up? Unfortunately, this is something that is actually true. In the United States today, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps. In fact, the number of Americans on food stamps has increased by a whopping 14 million since Barack Obama entered the White House. All of this makes JP Morgan very happy, because JP Morgan has been making money by the boatload on food stamps. Right now, JP Morgan Chase issues food stamp debit cards in 26 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The division of JP Morgan Chase that issues these debit cards made an eye-popping 5.47 billion dollars in net revenue during 2010. JP Morgan is paid per customer, so when the number of Americans on food stamps goes up, they make more money. But doesn't this give JP Morgan an incentive to try to keep the number of Americans on food stamps as high as possible? Of course it does. JP Morgan is interested in making money as rapidly as possible. If JP Morgan can get more Americans enrolled in the food stamp program and keep them enrolled in it for as long as possible, that is good for business.
And the Obama administration is certainly doing what it can to help out. Even though a whopping 46 million Americans are now on food stamps, the Obama administration plans to give out large amounts of money to organizations that are able figure out ways to get even more people enrolled in the program....
Despite the historic rise in food stamp use, however, the Obama Administration believes not enough people are receiving food stamps who should be and is offering $75,000 grants to groups who devise "effective strategies" to "increase program participation" among those who have yet to sign up.
In fact, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that if we can get even more Americans enrolled in the food stamp program, that will be a great way to "stimulate the economy".
Of course JP Morgan just loves all of this. The more people they have in the system the better.
Christopher Paton, the managing director of JP Morgan's "Treasury Solutions" business, made the following statement about the "food stamp business" that his firm is engaged in during an interview with Bloomberg Television....
"This business is a very important business to JPMorgan. It's an important business in terms of its size and scale…Right now, volumes have gone through the roof in the past couple of years. The good news, from JPMorgan's perspective, is the infrastructure that we built has been able to cope with that increase in volume."
You can see more of the interview with Paton in the video posted below....
As the interview above noted, more than 40 percent of all food stamp recipients in the United States actually have a job.
Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs. Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs. This trend is perfect for JP Morgan because it means that the number of low income workers that are eligible for food stamps is going to keep increasing.
And what makes all of this even sadder is that JP Morgan has outsourced many of the customer service jobs for its food stamp program to India.
Yes, you read that correctly.
When Americans that can't find a decent job need help with their food stamps there is a good chance that they will be talking to a customer service representative sitting in India.
Isn't that crazy?
When ABC News confronted JP Morgan about this, JP Morgan would not tell ABC which states have customer service calls sent to India and which states have them handled inside the United States....
JP Morgan is the only one today still operating public-assistance call centers overseas. The company refused to say which states had calls routed to India and which ones had calls stay domestically. That decision, the company said, was often left up to the individual states.
But JP Morgan doesn't just handle food stamps. JP Morgan also issues child support debit cards in 15 states and unemployment insurance debit cards in 7 states.
Of course JP Morgan is not the only big bank involved in this kind of business. Several others are also making money in massive quantities on the backs of the poor.
The following example comes from a Huffington Post article....
Shawana Busby does not seem like the sort of customer who would be at the center of a major bank's business plan. Out of work for much of the last three years, she depends upon a $264-a-week unemployment check from the state of South Carolina. But the state has contracted with Bank of America to administer its unemployment benefits, and Busby has frequently found herself incurring bank fees to get her money.
To withdraw her benefits, Busby, 33, uses a Bank of America prepaid debit card on which the state deposits her funds. She could visit a Bank of America ATM free of charge. But this small community in the state's rural center, her hometown, does not have a Bank of America branch. Neither do the surrounding towns where she drops off her kids at school and attends church.
She could drive north to Columbia, the state capital, and use a Bank of America ATM there. But that entails a 50 mile drive, cutting into her gas budget. So Busby visits the ATMs in her area and begrudgingly accepts the fees, which reach as high as five dollars per transaction. She estimates that she has paid at least $350 in fees to tap her unemployment benefits.
There is something about all of this that just seems very, very wrong.
When we have good jobs, the big banks hit us with outrageous bank fees and they try to get us enslaved to credit card debt.
When we are down on our luck and become dependent on the government, the big banks still find ways of making money at our expense.
Why do the banksters always seem to win and we always seem to lose?