JP Morgan profiting off hungry Americans
17 Feb, 2011 22:33
The deepest recession since the great depression cost Americans more than eight million jobs and $787 billion in tax-payer funds for Wall Street. Bailout recipient JP Morgan Chase has recovered well, but most Americans have not.
Americans are generally known for their healthy appetite.Some eat what they crave, while others like Gavrielle Gemma, only eat what is affordable. Gemma is an unemployed 61-year old with a monthly food budget of two-hundred dollars.She is among the 43-million Americans relying on federal food subsidy. The electronic benefit transfer card allows food stamp recipients to spend their allowance. A plastic lifeline for the hungry and unemployed is also a money maker for JP Morgan Chase, the largest processor of food stamp benefits in the US.Meaning an increase in food stamp recipients equals more profit for the investment bank.“Yes it pisses me off that every time I use my debit card, JP Morgan make a little money off my transaction. JP Morgan is responsible for the fact that I’m unemployed. So it doesn’t surprise me that every aspect of this program and everything has been privatized,” said Gemma. JP Morgan Chase provides food stamp debit cards in 26 states and the District of Columbia.The firm is paid per customer, and in the state of Indiana, JP Morgan earns 186-thousand dollars per month for its food debit card service. Critics say JP Morgan is making a fortune off American poverty.“As long as the unemployment rate remains high. As long as families are struggling… there’s sorta this perverse incentive for JP Morgan Chase to continue to benefit off of high unemployment because in many states they’re actually off-shoring the jobs related to processing the food stamps,” said Mary Bottari, Director of the Real Economy Project at the Center of Media and Democracy.To save money, JP Morgan has been routing benefit card customer service calls to India, where employees reportedly earn no more than three-fifty an hour.Meanwhile, in the US abyss of economic hardship, nearly 14-million Americans are unemployed. JP Morgan has refused to say which states dial up customer service centers in India.“It’s just completely inappropriate that this type of public service is being outsourced to a private profit driven company. Especially one that was bailed out by the taxpayers,” said Bottari.In 2008, JP Morgan received a $25 billion tax payer bailout. By 2010, the investment bank recovered, showing a 17.8 billion dollar profit in 2010.The same can’t be said for the people. Forty percent of food stamp recipients are working Americans unable to keep pace with the cost of living. With food prices set to soar and few bonuses handed out to the common folks, JP Morgan anticipates profits will grow."This business is a very important business to JP Morgan. It’s a very important business in terms of its size and scale. Volumes have gone through the roof in the past couple of years,” said Christopher Paton, a JP Morgan executive.What is a booming business for the banks, is arguably feasting off the hungry and disadvantaged.Michael T. Snyder, the founder of TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com said there is technically nothing illegal about what JP Morgan is doing, but it is highly distasteful. “They received these huge bailouts from the US government so that they could get back on their feet, but then they are making these huge profits off the suffering of the American people,” he said. “The more Americans that go on feed stamps, the more money JP Morgan makes.” JP Morgan’s profits have grown consistently with the growth of Americans using food stamps. In addition, the service and support branch of the operation is based in India. When you call the service number Americans are directed to a call center in India, as opposed to the United States, where unemployment numbers continue to rise. “It’s like rubbing salt in the wound of the millions upon millions of the American people that don’t have jobs,” commented Snyder. States that outsource to JP Morgan could work with other companies or hire others to do the jobs, but they aren’t.“There is no desire on the part of the state governments to do anything about this,” he added.