Moral Low Ground


‘The Moral High Ground’: Citing Social and Economic Justice, California Beverage Magnate Mike Fox Sr. Ditching Bank of America

A prominent Silicon Valley businessman and philanthropist is severing ties with Bank of America in an effort to promote social and economic justice.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Mike Fox Sr., a wholesale beverage distributor who founded M.E. Fox & Co. 46 years ago, is closing his Bank of America (BOA) account, which contains several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fox is also ending his $4 million-plus BOA line of credit.

(Photo: Metroactive)

“I think the only way I can influence people is through my personal example,” the 75-year-old Fox told the Mercury News. Fox acknowledges that the amount he is divesting is “rather small compared to the egregiousness” of BOA’s offenses, namely, the mega-bank’s reluctance to modify home mortgages during the foreclosure crisis.

Fox, who’s firm distributes beer, water, New Age drinks and Red Bull energy drink, is certainly a member of the “1%” that the Occupy Wall Street movement has slammed for their greed. But Fox is firmly on the side of the “99%.” He is working with People Acting in Community Together (PACT), a San Jose-based nonprofit multiethnic, interfaith social justice group.

PACT leaders told the Mercury News that they’ve been trying for years to work with BOA to modify mortgages but have been unable to find common ground with the bank.

“We have been working on this campaign for two years trying to negotiate with banks– and particularly Bank of America– to work with homeowners to keep people who can pay for their homes and give them viable modifications,” PACT leader Gina Gates told the Mercury News. But the group’s efforts have been mostly frustrating.

Most Holy Trinity Church, another PACT member, has also divested $3 million from Bank of America.

Fox says PACT has been urging him to divest for a year, but he felt that doing so would be too much of a hassle. But recent events have changed his mind.

“The inability of banks to give loans to people, from small business loans to home loans and mortgages– the banks sort of shut down, and that was an impediment to a lot of people,” he explained to the Mercury News. 

The Occupy Wall Street movement will hold a nationwide “Bank Transfer Day” tomorrow in which it is hoped many Americans will move their money from big banks to community banks and credit unions. This is a cause which groups like the Move Your Money Project have been championing for some time now; to find a community bank or credit union near you, just go to their website where there is a comprehensive list of financial institutions near you.

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