The Real News Network has the final segment What Would You Do If You Had Political Power? – Gar Alperovitz on Reality Asserts Itself (5/5) of a series that I have been following on this blog. See my previous posts Understanding the Imperialist System Changed My Life – Gar Alperovitz on Reality Asserts Itself (Parts 1 – 3 out of 5) and The Promise and Limitations of Worker Co-ops – Gar Alperovitz on Reality Asserts Itself (4/5). To whet your appetite, I’ll choose some excerpts focusing on one of the ideas in this interview.
JAY: But the other sector that essentially was nationalized and again just handed back was the banking sector. And if you’re really going to change things, you’re going to have to do something with how finance, how loans take place. And what could be done at a city and state level there?
ALPEROVITZ: Again, we’re not–this is no longer rhetoric. The state of North Dakota has had a publicly owned bank for almost 100 years now, and it is public. It makes money for the state. Twenty states have legislation introduced to set up public banks. That can be done. You can set up a city-owned bank, or, minimally, you can take city tax deposits and put them in banks that will invest in the city. That’s also being done around the country.
ALPEROVITZ: Credit unions, nonprofit banks.
Credit unions are key to this. Most people don’t realize this. A credit union is a co-op. It’s a one-person, one-vote bank. That’s all it is. If you put them all together in the United States, all of these one-person, one-vote banks, credit unions, have as much capital as any of the big New York banks–$1 trillion. It’s now being used for non–very boring–housing and auto loans, mainly, a little bit for business. They’re restricted. The banks have made sure to restrict them for business. But they can do housing, and they could be using their strength.
The beauty of this is that you can see some of these ideas in the thinking of the current Democratic candidates for the Governor of Massachusetts in 2014. I think there is also promise in the recently elected mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh.
I should say, that if you are negative on the ideas presented here, you could come up with a long list of issues and things that could go wrong in carrying out the ideas described by Gar Alperovitz. Any thoughtful proponent of these ideas recognizes the existence of these issues. All we say is that don’t use the existence of these issues to kill the idea. Instead think of ways of solving these problems. If you have the attitude of problem solving, I think you can find a way to guard against, overcome, and measure the occurrence of all these problems. It’s not like there are no problems with the current system.
As I think Gar Alperovitz would agree, if it looks like there is a better way, then we ought to be able to start moving in that direction. Of course we need to be ever wary of problems that come up so that we can deal with them as they occur. It’s not like anybody claims to have all the answers. As with going with any new direction, it is a learning experience. We didn’t figure out all the answers to making the USA work in 1776. We learned as the nation grew.
If you want to raise issues, do so in a spirit of “Let’s see if we can figure out how to solve this.”