Statement to the City of Boulder on Public Banking
A statement I wrote and sent to Boulder's mayor yesterday as they consider alternatives to banking with Chase. The Rocky Mountain Public Banking Institute is a great local organization that was invited to present this option, and put out the call for additional statements of support.
The benefits of publicly owned banks (The Bank of North Dakota is currently the only one in the US, but they are common internationally) are border-line utopian, and well worth the growing attention they're getting. Banks can legally be owned and operated at the Federal, state, city, county or tribal level. Santa Fe and Oakland are both seriously considering them. The newly elected governor of New Jersey had it as part of his platform. Public revenues, typically placed in mega-banks, can be cheaply managed without creating additional costs. And these new reserves can be leveraged for low-interest loans. This is getting in the weeds, but because banks actually create new money when they lend, it vastly expands the finances available for public investment without increasing taxes or deepening debt (as bonds do).
With fiancialization at the heart of most neoliberal strategies, dislodging our economy from Wall Street is one of the highest leverage acts available to us. I'm a fan and highly encourage others to a) take a close look, b) connect with advocates for public banking in your area, and c) start championing them yourself.
Dear Mayor Jones and all,
While I cannot be in attendance tonight, I want to personally thank you for considering public banking as a viable alternative to Boulder’s current arrangement. I urge you to pursue a public bank for a better Boulder.
As people of faith, we hold that every society has the moral responsibility to build a thriving shared environment for its people and the planet we live on. Our traditions particularly call on us to ensure the wellbeing of the vulnerable, and, therefore, to build systems that are both sustainable and equitable.
The fragility and inequality of our globalized financial system has shown that it is insufficient to achieve these goals. The financial sector is meant to be a lubricant for society, helping us achieve our aspirations, while spreading opportunity widely. Instead, deregulated banking and investment tools have been twisted into mechanisms of extractive finance: building grotesque levels of wealth for an elite few while leaving the majority behind. Additionally, with a major economic recession occurring every ten years for the past several decades, we are forced to look apprehensively toward 2018 as the ten year anniversary of our last Great Recession. Banking the public’s money with these institutions is morally irresponsible.
By localizing our money, returning oversight to the public, expanding the resources we can invest in our community, doing so at lowered interest-rates, prioritizing community benefit in it’s institutional mission, and providing a powerful tool for stabilizing our local economy when market shocks inevitably come, a public bank is a sound fiscal and moral decision aligned with the values of Boulder. This is an opportunity to divest from sectors and industries that wreak havoc on nature and our communities, while vastly expanding our capacity to deliver the social goods we need -- goods like affordable housing and green infrastructure investment.
On behalf of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado and our multiple Boulder congregations, thank you again for considering public banking. We hope you will continue this process, and offer our full support along the way.
Peace, joy, and justice,
Nathan Davis Hunt