Consider municipal banks
October 21, 2011
OPINION By RICHARD SALZMAN
Ten days into the Occupy Wall Street protests, I wrote letters to the editor of several papers complaining about the lack of mainstream media coverage. By the time that letter was printed, they finally got to the story, to their credit.
There are now “Occupy” actions taking place in 1,482 cities across the country including in my own town of Arcata in Humboldt County, California.
Surprisingly, even as the media has covered the story, many seem mystified by the motives and/or lack of a cohesive message. Does “people’s needs, not corporate greed” explain it?
San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos wants his city to pull its money out of corporate financial institutions and start a municipal bank “so we can control how we are investing in local businesses…” I hope other cities and states will also consider this option.
Long ago, I pulled my money from a big bank and put it into a local credit union. Then it was recently publicized that the CEO of my small “non-profit” credit union was taking home just shy of a million dollars a year in compensation (making the $160k that our county administrative officer earns seem pretty reasonable). I’m sure people would love to put their money in a publicly-owned bank whose CEO doesn’t get paid a million dollar salary.
Here are more excellent ideas, some from Senator Bernie Sanders and some from Rolling Stone contributor Matt Taibbi:
1. Break’em up. If it’s too big to fail, it’s too big to exist. Start with repeal of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the separation of insurance, investment and commercial banks.
2. Pay for bailouts. A speculation fee on credit default swaps, derivatives, stock options and futures would pay for the bailouts
3. Cap credit card interest rates, end usury so they’re not permitted to charge 25 plus percent interest.
4. Tax hedge-fund gamblers more then 15 percent on their income.
5. The Fed needs to provide small businesses in America with low-interest loans like it gave to foreign banks.
6. Stop Wall Street oil speculators from artificially increasing oil prices.
Richard Salzman lives in Humboldt County on California’s Redwood Coast, where he works as an Illustrators’ Rep and Political Consultant.