Tag Archives: public banking

Just, Equitable, and Regenerative Recovery with Public Banks

Letters of the Word "Safer" between the columns of a classic looking bank building

Debbie says:

I try not to ride my public banking hobbyhorse in this space too often (Laurie thinks I should do it more). However,  this op-ed was just published in the Post News Group papers, though it was really a group effort by Friends of Public Bank East Bay, an activist group I am part of.

… only banks can multiply their impact by leveraging their capital: if our bank has $10 million in equity, it can loan up to $100 million to small businesses and others suffering from the economic fallout from COVID-19.

All banks do this, but private  banks are legally bound to maximize profits for their shareholders, most of whom are already wealthy. Public banks will be bound by their missions and their charters, and overseen by their community-based boards of directors, to maximize recovery for the people and businesses who have been longest overlooked.

In case you haven’t been counting (they have!), the Wall Street banks have so far made $10 billion in windfall profits from processing just the clusterfuck that is the small business stimulus payments. They are also permitted to deduct any money owed to them from your stimulus checks — the bills passed and signed in March very carefully make sure that any money you owe government at any level can’t be hijacked from this payment, but the same protection wasn’t made from loans to (or through) the banks. Some banks are taking “their share,” some are letting the money through, and some are blaming Congress for “forcing” them to deduct debts.

Public banks will also be in a position to accept the zero-interest loans now made available only to banks from the Federal Reserve.

Cities and counties with public banks will be able to deploy economic recovery efforts quickly and efficiently, because they know their communities intimately. In partnership with community banks and credit unions, these banks can prioritize loans to individuals, and to small- and medium-sized businesses owned and run by people of color and other vulnerable groups.

If this makes sense to you, you can check out California Public Banking Alliance, soon to be a member of the National Public Banking Alliance (in formation). And you can sign our petition to lawmakers.  (Hey, I warned you this was my cause.)

The day we get the first California public bank up and running, we will have a ready source of funds to help people and businesses sustain and rebuild themselves through these hard times, without repeating the mistakes of the last 40 years. It will multiply its capital and equity up to 10 times, while multiplying its positive impact on people of color and others who have been systematically marginalized, because — unlike Wall Street banks — prioritizing those who need it most will be built into its DNA.

COVID-19 is doing great harm. At the same time, it is pointing the way to a more equitable world and a regenerative economy. The time for public banking is now.


Thanksgiving 2019: Still Finding Hope

the first detailed photograph of a black hole

Laurie and Debbie say:

Hope can feel hard to come by in these times, is why we think it’s so important to name and celebrate people and things we’re thankful for:

The U.S. impeachment proceedings against Donald J. Trump are in full swing, and the evidence for the narrow case the Democrats are mounting is very hard to refute (which is why the Republicans are doing everything they can to distract from the case and raise red herrings). Polls vary, but it does seem clear that more Americans support impeachment and removal than oppose it. Many other cases and lawsuits against the current presidency are in various stages, including the three emoluments lawsuits, all of which have been granted standing and are moving forward.

In other U.S. national politics issues:

The 2020 census is proceeding without a citizenship question. The controversy around this frightened many Latinx and other immigrants and will have somewhat of a chilling effect on voting, but Latin voting rights organizations are doing terrific work countering that issue.

The practice of “deplatforming” right-wing voices is having a real effect. Both Milo Yiannopoulos and Alex Jones have more or less disappeared from the scene since they were removed from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in 2018. This year, after multiple mass-shooting “manifestos” were posted on the site, hate site 8chan was deplatformed and is still looking for a home.

In the realm of science, we have our first detailed photograph of a black hole (above), from the Event Horizon Telescope’s global network of radio dishes!

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved not one but two new drugs to treat sickle cell anemia, an extremely painful and often fatal condition largely found in people of African descent. (The rapper Prodigy died of sickle cell anemia in 2017.) These drugs are outrageously expensive; however, many drugs drop in price a year or two after approval, and some insurance companies will approve them now.

Like U.S. and U.K. politics, the global climate situation inspires a lot of hopelessness. So we’re thankful for Greta Thunberg and the Sunrise Movement, young people who care enough about the world they want to live in to mount an implacable assault on the powers-that-be. And knowing that the European Investment Bank is divesting quickly from fossil fuel investments helps too.

We’re thankful for Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, and the country’s Parliament, who knew how a state should react to a devastating mass shooting: change the laws quickly.

We appreciate the U.S. District Court ruling acquitting Scott Warren of “illegally harboring refugees” when in fact he was providing humanitarian aid to people in need.

One of the ways we survive in these times is through the work of investigative journalists — an imperiled profession. In that context, we want to name Julie K. Brown, who (mostly in 2018) dropped the hammer on Jeffrey Epstein, leading to his imprisonment.

Our home state of California has led the way in a number of important things to be thankful for:

  • The nation’s strongest law limiting police use of force: Officers may shoot only when lives are in immediate danger, not when they are “afraid for their lives.” The ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project is also doing great work in the area of police violence. And Laurie’s home city just elected Chesa Boudin, a superb progressive district attorney.
  • A law permitting (finally!) student athletes to make money from use of their names and images. This law, with similar ones passed by a few other states, has caused the NCAA to finally back down from it’s “we’re rich; you can’t make a dime” historic position, though details still have to be worked out.
  • Along with New York and several cities, a law protecting people whose hairstyles might otherwise be excuses to keep them from jobs and schooling. Of course, this has mostly been used against Black people, so this is an anti-racist trend.
  • A law making a roadmap for local public banks in the state. (Debbie was an organizer on this one.)

We want to mention our personal thanks for the work of Stacey Abrams, magnificent crusader for voting and human rights, and for the work of Ibram X. Kendi, a writer who is  reframing the conversation about racism. There are thousands more people whose work deserves thanks: this list from Bitch Magazine names 50 of them (only a couple of whom we named above). One person we found in the Bitch 50 list is Rebecca Alexander, whose AllGo app helps fat people find the places where the chairs and other furniture will work for them — a much-needed service.

We are grateful to every single person who is engaging in resistance here or in their own country: people doing the amazing work that needs to be done: all the thousands upon thousands of them.