What would it be like if we ran our banks the way we run our elections?
I suppose something like this...
Some questions remain in bank audit
Dateline: your town
Another box of money was found in the offices of Central Fiduciary Fidelity Financial Faith and Trust (CFFFF&T) today, as its audit entered its second week. Witnesses said that the box, about two feet high by two feet wide and three feet long appeared to be stuffed full of bills but they were unable to guess the number or the denomination. The audit, which many believe to be unneeded, was called by the managers of a defunct savings and loan in response to the demands from their customers, some of whom claim to have lost their life's savings.
This is the fifth such box identified at CFFFF&T, though there is as of yet no official word on how much money has been found in total. Bank officials issued a statement last Wednesday when the fourth box was found, saying that manually counting the money is a waste of time, but will be done if there is sufficient pressure from the media.
There have been widespread rumours floating around the internet for months, claiming that the nation's banking system is in serious trouble. Many of them point to incidents such as these as supporting their claims. Banking industry analysts however have repeatedly said that it was not uncommon for boxes of money to turn up in various corners of busy banks, and the alarmists who say otherwise or claim that it points to a bigger problem are just crackpots. CFFFF&T President Karl Blackwell agrees.
"They just aren't seeing the bigger picture" Blackwell told Faze The Nation Friday. "Banks are in no way close to collapsing. In fact, many banks are reporting record profits for the tenth year running. People need to just keep making deposits and leave the boring details to us professionals. We professionals? Whatever."
In any case, no one expects the total amount of money found in CFFFF&T's audit to be anywhere near enough to affect the banks financial statements, which were filed amidst great ceremony last Friday at a lavish party held in honor of the bank's current accounting firm, Outron, Rove and Lark.
But extra cash is not the only problem Blackwell has had to deal with lately. There have been scattered accounts of people accidentally depositing more money in their CFFFF&T accounts when they intended to withdraw funds, due to an error in the banks touch-screen ATMs. Blackwell stressed that such minor miscalibrations are to be expected when dealing with complex electronics. "Computers," he pointed out at the time "are only as good as the people who program them and the people who use them. Expecting computers to be perfect is tantamount to expecting perfection from people. I'm not saying it was necessarily user error--just that you can't proof that it wasn't."
And CFFFF&T is not the only target of criticism. Banking industry critics also point to problems such as the recent payday backlog in Ohio, where some banking customers had to wait for up to ten hours in freezing rain to cash their paychecks, especially in poorer neighborhoods. They claim that many customers couldn't wait that long and were forced to leave without cashing their paychecks, and that others who did wait were turned away or had their checks taken from them because they were at the wrong window. Some even go as far as to suggest that this represents an unearned windfall for the banks.
Seasoned industry watchers dismiss such claims as mere speculation. "No one know for sure that people left without cashing their checks," explained one expert who asked to remain anonymous. "They are just basing the theory that the banks somehow benefited from keeping people from cashing their checks on abstruse statistical arguments. There is absolutely no evidence of fraud. We've been very careful about that. Besides, if they couldn't make it that day, there'll be another payday in, what, just under two years, isn't it? They can cash their checks then."
Most people agree with the experts. But not everyone.
Some fringe critics are even calling for a total rework of the banking system, to more resemble the nations electoral process where detailed paper records are kept of every vote and there is an elaborate system of checks and balances. A spokesperson for Piebald Industries, which makes both voting machines and ATMs calls such demands unreasonable.
In an interview with Newsweak magazine, Piebald spokesperson Ryan O'Dear was quoted as saying "A paper trail for every deposit and withdrawal? Receipts? Automatic and transparent auditing? I don't think the people demanding such things realize how much it would all cost," he said. "And given the insignificance of most ATM transactions, it hardly seems worth it. After all, it's only money. It's not like we're talking about control of the free world or anything here."