Matt Stannard has launched the first of a ten-part series on the Public Banking movement in Occupy.com. It will feature interviews with economists, historians, and activists of varying levels of involvement in the economic justice movement in general, and the public banking movement specifically.
Matt Stannard writes:
"Recognizing that the generation and value of money are artificial, and that how we pay for things is fundamentally a political question, advocates of financial democracy see banking – the power to lend money and to create value through the act of lending – as an enormous power. Such power should be democratic, not autocratic."
The Public Banking Institute brought together in early March representatives from key active Public Bank initiatives for a strategic planning summit. The group included over 50 diverse, experienced professionals — former bankers, legislators, authors and academics, as well as grassroots organizers, political organizers, and labor leaders. All attending spent their weekend devoted to strategizing how to make Public Banks that have a mandate to serve the public interest a reality for our states and cities.
How’d it go? Read this inspiring Twitter thread from David Jette of Public Bank LA for a taste of the shared energy.
Watch this short video from grassroots organizer extraordinaire Carlos Marroquin of the Bernie Sanders Brigade and Yes CA Public Bank to see how hard at work we all were at the ongoing workshops.
What’s next? Look for a media and social media primer as well as many other important initiatives to support those hard at work on the ground.
On the heels of Gov. Phil Murphy’s landslide success in NJ, another prominent government official has adopted Public Banking in his platform for his potential campaign. Matt Brown, Rhode Island’s former Secretary of State, has just announced he is exploring a campaign for the governor’s office and is connecting the potential of a state bank to the lives of the people of Rhode Island.
Citing lost economic opportunities that result from Wall Street debt financing, Brown thinks Rhode Island’s resources for generating new industries could flourish if the state had a Public Bank. Many of the prospects he sees center around the abundant renewable energy sources that lie just off-shore in wind generation. The obstacle to development has been a lack of robust and cost-effective funding.
Matt Brown thinks the Public Bank is a game changer:
“Change also means we must take our money back from Wall Street. So many of our problems come down to not having enough money……essentials like affordable housing and quality education remain out of reach. The only solution our system offers is to raise taxes or go further into debt.”
Laura Alix at American Banker just published a very good slideshow overview of the motivations behind the push for Public Banks. While it doesn’t dive into the bigger drive that Public Banking is a shift in how money and credit operates for the public good, it does discuss some of the important dynamics and community needs that bring people to the Public Bank solution:
“Call it Bank of North Dakota envy.
“Whenever they are frustrated with the services provided by traditional banks — or lack thereof — public officials will float the idea of creating a government-owned bank that, similar to Bank of North Dakota, would accept deposits from local governments and school districts and then lend the money back into the communities it serves.”
China is making infrastructure transformations that leave the US in the crumbling dust of hot air and broken roads. They’ve built 12,000 miles of high-speed rail in a mere decade. The secret: financing via their state-owned Public Banks, a solution we need to study and adopt before it’s too late.
Ellen writes in her recent TruthDig article:
“One Belt, One Road,” China’s $1 trillion infrastructure initiative, is a massive undertaking involving highways, pipelines, transmission lines, ports, power stations, fiber optics and railroads connecting China to Central Asia, Europe and Africa.
According to Dan Slane, a former adviser in President Trump’s transition team, “It is the largest infrastructure project initiated by one nation in the history of the world and is designed to enable China to become the dominant economic power in the world. … If we don’t get our act together very soon, we should all be brushing up on our Mandarin.”
About 25% of Americans don’t have access to basic banking services such as check cashing and money transfers, often forcing them to rely on expensive charges from street corner profiteers who fill the void. While local banks aren’t always available, post offices are, and they could fill this banking void if only the Congress would allow it.
We talk with Katherine Isaac of the American Postal Workers Union about a national campaign to bring back postal banking. Later, Ellen talks with the founder of Cooperation Humboldt, David Cobb, about an effort to model a new type of local economy that leaves no one out. And Walt talks with Rhode Island’s former Secretary of State Matt Brown -- the latest candidate to run for a governorship on a public banking platform.
Former PBI Chair Walt McRee joins Margaret Flowers, MD and Keven Zeese on their Clearing the Fog podcast show to discuss the Public Banking movement.
“Money moves the world. Banking moves money.” — Walt McRee
“Public Banks exist around the world. They are used to hold public dollars, such as taxes and fees, to keep the money local so it serves the public interest, instead of giving it to Wall Street banks who charge high fees and interest rates. There is only one public bank so far in the United States, the Bank of North Dakota. It has been in existence for almost 100 years. Now, thanks to the work of the Public Banking Institute, there is a vibrant movement to create more public banks in the U.S. at the city and state level. We speak with Walt McRee and John Comerford about the reasons to support public banks, how they would serve people instead of Wall Street profits and current efforts across the country.”
The state of Alaska joins Michigan and New Jersey in the growing circle of states formally working to establish a Public Bank as Rep Chris Tuck and Rep Scott Kawasaki introduce HB 376. The bill has been referred to the Labor and Commerce, and Finance Committees.
A compelling press release published in Alaska Business magazine quotes the co-sponsors:
“A state bank would offer Alaskans new opportunities to invest in themselves. Too many Alaskans who have the dream, desire and drive are denied bank loans and cannot access credit. This bank can help Alaskans build their own local business.”
“A state bank will allow us to control our own economic destiny by investing in industrial development to create value-added industries from our resources. This will create physical wealth for our state and insulate us from the swings of the banking markets, which can hinder us from necessary development.”
Board of Alderman President Louis Reed introduced a resolution Mar 9 to create a Task Force to study how a Public Bank of St Louis could address some of the city’s most pressing needs, including affordable housing, small business growth and financing for municipal projects.
The Clayton Times quotes Alderman Reed:
“When you look at the mass unbanked population, when you look at the challenges that people have with getting and receiving loans, and also being able to fund developments and things of that nature throughout the city, particularly in some of our more challenged neighborhoods, I believe there’s some benefit to looking at how we leverage our tax dollars.”
One model of Public Banking — postal banking — would be able to service an abandoned market of the unbanked and underbanked, all while rescuing the USPS from a manufactured crisis and protecting it from the vultures trying to force its privatization.
PBI Chair Ellen Brown writes in her latest article in TruthDig that the USPS has been successfully self funded throughout its long history, but it’s now struggling to stay afloat, due to a sabotaging congressional mandate that requires the USPS to prefund healthcare for its workers 75 years into the future:
“No other entity, public or private, has the burden of funding multiple generations of employees yet unborn. ... Meanwhile, the need for postal banking is present and growing. … The average underserved household spends $2,412 annually – nearly 10% of gross income – in fees and interest for non-bank financial services. More than 30,000 post offices peppered across the country could service these needs.