George Graham

Good Idea, Bernie!

bernie2

 

While Joe Biden coyly toys with the idea of running for President and Hillary Clinton sails serenely through that contrived email “scandal,” Bernie Sanders is igniting a nationwide movement that looks more viable every day.

And – encouragingly – Bernie’s campaign is focused on issues of vital importance to Americans, not on side-show antics or anyone’s past peccadilloes.

He is proposing a sweeping reform of America’s parasitical banking system, for example, and he advocates such enlightened programs as free college tuition and a realistic minimum wage.

This morning, I read that Bernie wants to let post offices function as banks.

And it brought back memories of my childhood in Jamaica.

When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I was staying with my mother’s aunts in Guy’s Hill. I remember taking my pennies to the Guy’s Hill post office and turning them in for stamps, which were pasted on a savings card. When the card was full, I took it back to the post office and the accumulated value of the stamps was added to my savings account.

Post office banks and building societies were (and probably still are) a great boon to Jamaicans not rich enough to be of interest to commercial banks.  And I bet the same kind of system would be welcome in today’s America, where more and more of the population grows poorer every day and a tiny elite gobbles up the wealth.

As Bernie explained in a recent interview:

If you are a low-income person, it is, depending upon where you live, very difficult to find normal banking. Banks don’t want you. And what people are forced to do is go to payday lenders who charge outrageously high interest rates. You go to check-cashing places, which rip you off.

In today’s Daily Kos, a writer named “Thorn” notes that:

“Postal banking”—which just means that post offices run savings accounts, cash checks, and perform other basic financial services—is common in most of Asia and Europe, and only about 7 percent of the world’s national postal systems don’t offer some bank-like services…

Thorn quotes The Atlantic as saying that there was a postal-savings system like that in the US between 1910 and 1967. Yet today, Thorn observes:

In the US, between 20 and 40 percent of the population rely on check-cashing or payday-lending services, which in some places charge usurious rates that send people into spirals of recurring debt.

I imagine that the power of the for-profit financial institutions is the only reason post office banking no longer exists in America. And this illustrates how urgently the society needs total restructuring of the banking system.

This would be Bernie’s top priority as President.

Click for the Daily Kos article.

Click for Bernie on the issues.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com