By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News, 18 May 13
magine if your only choice for food came from genetically-modified crops. You would likely suffer regular health problems, be at a higher risk for numerous crippling diseases, and have no choice but to accept that as a fact of life. But what if, one day, you came across a farmer’s market where you could buy locally-produced, organically-grown, healthy fruits and vegetables at a fraction of the cost of GMO food. Wouldn’t you switch immediately and never go back? Your body would heal and you’d feel great.
Similarly, most US states, with the exception of North Dakota (we’ll get there in a minute) have no choice but to depend on big Wall Street banks for the money necessary to build critical infrastructure, most of which comes with obscene interest rates and get-rich-quick schemes like capital appreciation loans. These are concocted by predatory bankers intending to bleed municipalities and counties dry, from Jefferson County, Alabama, to Napa Valley, California. But public banking could be the antidote to free us from our dependency on Wall Street and put monetary power in the people’s hands. In short, our economy would heal and we’d all feel great.
Despite its name, the Federal Reserve is a private corporation, unaccountable to our government and autonomous in its operation. Even though the president appoints the chairman and the board of governors, the Federal Reserve and its 12 regional branches in America’s major cities are dominated largely by Wall Street. Through the devious process of fractional reserve banking, it has complete control over our monetary policy, as well as responsibility for price control and establishing long-term interest rates. It shouldn’t be any surprise to anyone that this private corporation allows Wall Street to withdraw billions of dollars at 0.75% interest while homeowners and college students who depend on those same banks for loans have to pay far higher rates. The buddy-buddy relationship the Federal Reserve has with Wall Street was fully revealed after the Fed’s first official audit in 2011, when the Fed’s records showed they had dished out $16 trillion in bailouts to not just US banks, but foreign banks as well. That’s a trillion dollars more than the United States’ entire GDP for 2011.
The Fed posted a whopping $77.4 billion in profit in 2011. While, to its credit, the Fed gave almost all of their profits back to the U.S. Treasury, those profits were made while buying up the same toxic mortgage-backed securities that Wall Street intentionally created to fail while enriching themselves. The Fed’s quantitative easing policy, known as QE3, is simultaneously shoveling $40 billion per week into the black hole of Wall Street’s coffers to keep buying up these worthless, obtuse financial instruments. The Fed claims that quantitative easing has helped create or save almost 2,000,000 jobs since 2008, and while that may be true, the people could probably find a much better way to spend $40 billion a month and create and save far more jobs.
The Bank of North Dakota, while ensconced in a deep Republican stronghold, is one of America’s best kept secrets. It began in the early 20th century as a way for farmers to deposit and borrow money without having to depend on the big, corrupt banks in New York and Chicago. The BND holds the state’s tax revenues instead of Wall Street, and makes loans to the community at a reasonable rate through a partnership with 80 other community banks across North Dakota. And as a public bank, the BND has a policy of not engaging in Wall Street gambling schemes like derivatives trading, subprime mortgage lending or the credit default swap market. Because of that, North Dakota’s public bank will never need a bailout from the taxpayers.
Because the privately-operated Federal Reserve still has a monopoly on our money supply, the BND still has to ultimately borrow money from the private banking cartel. However, the BND still supplies tens of millions of dollars to the state treasury every year that can be used for badly-needed investments in things like schools, healthcare and transportation infrastructure. Imagine if we could nationalize the Fed and our money supply, using the BND’s model for all 50 states to safely deposit their money and make low-interest loans available to everyday homeowners and small business owners! It would bring Wall Street to its knees.
Luckily, the Public Banking Institute is teaching everyone how we can make that happen at their 2013 conference at Dominican University from June 2-4 in San Rafael, California. Birgitta Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of the Icelandic Parliament (and the Pirate Party), will be speaking about her fight to hold the Icelandic banks that ruined her country’s economy accountable. Investigative journalist Matt Taibbi, who has written extensively about Wall Street’s pillaging of local economies through obscure financial trickery, will be speaking as well. You can learn more about the conference by clicking here. Let’s take our money, our economy, and our power back.
Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary “We’re Not Broke,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.
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