“Local governments have been in bondage to Wall Street ever since the19th century despite multiple efforts to rein them in. Regulation has not worked. To break free, we need to divest our public funds from these banks and move them into our own publicly owned banks.”
These words are from Ellen Brown, Chairman of of the Public Banking Institute in a recent article entitled How America Can Free Itself From Wall Street. The article focuses on the city of Los Angeles but the objections and hurdles faced by LA echo across the United States where the powerful banking interests squeal like stuck pigs at the thought of public banking. Such is the case in Olympia where several clear headed and forward thinking legislators have been fighting for years for public banking, unfortunately without much help from counties and municipalities and with stiff opposition from the private banking shills. Despite years of work in Olympia by state representatives, they have not been able to legislate to definitively allow public banking in Washington State at any level, be it state, county or municipal.
Why the urgency? Very simply is that we are still in the same crisis that began in 2007-2008 but the big banks that failed are bigger, their behavior is riskier, the regulation from Washington is monumentally weaker and debts are choking the economy. In order to provide some shelter from this at a national level, big banks should be nationalized. On the local level, creation of state, county and city public banks will provide shelter from these financial storms much like the public Bank of North Dakota did ten years ago.
At the Washington state level, proponents of public banking have been able to secure from the legislature $480,000 (over 2 years) starting this year to study the feasibility of state bank. Seattle is very active in this effort and its own quest to establish a public bank for the city. Unfortunately, two years from now may be too late. What looks like progress with this study may merely be a delaying tactic by the private banksters. Death by study.
But what has Bellingham done? I brought this issue to the city council a few years ago but no action was taken by them nor has the city hall executive pursued the issue - and yes, I checked.
This awaits all communities who break out of the sclerotic and confiscatory private banking environment and create public banks:
• Viable solutions to the present economic crises in US states.
• Counter-cyclical, meaning they [public banks] are capable of reducing the negative impact of recessions, because they can make money available for local governments and businesses precisely when private banks decrease lending.
• Potentially available to any-sized government or community able to meet the requirements for setting up a bank.
• Owned by the people of a state or community.
• Economically sustainable, because they [public banks] operate transparently according to applicable banking regulations
• Able to offset pressures for tax increases with returned credit income to the community.
• Ready sources of affordable credit for local governments, eliminating the need for large “rainy day” funds.
• Required to promote the public interest, as defined in their [public banks] charters.
• Constitutional, as ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court
At a minimum, it is time for some subdued excitement from Bellingham on public banking.