By Angela Smith, HEAL National Coordinator/Co-Founder
I had the opportunity last night to catch up on some of The Jimmy Dore Show on Youtube and saw the segment (available here https://youtu.be/wotbxvukJjA) on Los Angeles' Measure B. One of the first things I noticed was that Madeline Merritt was well composed and had prepared talking points. I read the poster describing the measure shown in the background of the clip. And, it said the measure would permit the city to explore the creation of a public bank and remove one of the impediments for setting up a public bank in the city. See segment linked above to view the poster.
Initially, I was excited. I support making the Federal Reserve a public utility, but, that was as I understood it and perhaps not as Ellen Brown meant it. See, Ellen Brown has set up the Public Banking Institute and supported the Los Angeles Measure B efforts. And, historically and to this day I support my understanding of the intended or stated purpose of a public bank, but, remain concerned that bankers and not the public or those holding deposits would retain a say in how the funds generated through such a bank would be distributed and invested. With a credit union, the funds would go directly back to the members (i.e. any and all account holders) and as members they would have voting rights, elect the board from their own members/account holders, and be non-profit. See: https://www.calstatela-fcu.org/about-us/credit-union-difference The difference between a credit union and a bank is that a credit union gives control to the people and a bank gives control to bankers. It would appear that the solution for better democratizing the economy, as is the stated goal of the Green Party, would be to establish credit unions at the local level which would do all the good of any proposed public banking solution without creating another loophole for exploitation and corruption by those who claim to be the "new and improved" banking elite.
Now, the Public Banking Institute claims that a credit union is not lawful for cities or states to create, or implies as much, and that a credit union couldn't handle the transactions of a large city or state. The largest credit union in the world, Navy Federal, has 5 million members. Los Angeles has 4 million people. So, a city credit union would work and be a more democratic solution. And, 27 states in the United States have less than 5 million as their whole population. So, both states and large cities could run an effective non-profit credit union that would help further democratize how funds are spent and give the people the power to elect the union board and control how union funds are used through a representative process and direct voting rights. This is a much better solution than any public banking option if the goal is to expand freedom and power to the people.
Measure B was fairly stupid as was the promotional poster for it. For one, apparently the council had already been discussing the possibility (exploring the creation) of a public bank for at least a year when they voted on the ordinance to get the measure put on the ballot. Now, the ordinance just says to put a question on the ballot to Los Angeles voters and doesn't explain anything about what type of bank, who would run it, who would pay for it, or who would control it. And, the voters voted no for the most part as they should. And, the question was, "Shall the city charter be amended to allow the City to establish a municipal financial institution or bank?" The city charter does not need to be amended to establish a non-profit credit union. Any purely commercial enterprise, like a sports arena (my guess), requires approval by popular vote of constituency. But, there appears to be no rules in the city charter against the city establishing a credit union or non-profit community bank. And, cities around the country have established credit unions. And, even Washington State has a statewide credit union that is non-profit and a cooperative of those who choose to become a member.
So, states and cities can and legally do establish credit unions. And, these are better for the people than any public bank option. So, for everyone who wants to start fixing this shit, moving to a credit union or establishing one, is the smarter and better choice. It would also seem a plan the Green Party would support. At least Republicans respect our troops and my family is all four branches. Navy Federal wins.