Sponsored by A Grand Alliance to Save our Public Postal Service
June 28, 2016 / East Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Cleveland
The phrase “populism” has been getting much attention these days.
Omaha Platform – Launching of the Populist Party (July 4, 1892) – 124 years this week:
From Finance Section, point 5: “We demand that postal savings banks be established by the government for the safe deposit of the earnings of the people and to facilitate exchange.”
Education and organizing led to opening of the US Postal Savings System on 1/1/1911
Offered savings accounts to depositors, but no loans. When banks failed after the Great Depression, many people shifted their remaining funds. With post officers serving as bank branches, the Postal Savings System held upwards of 20% of the nation’s savings in the mid 1940’s.
Continued until 49 years ago this week: July 1, 1967
Post offices can and should provide minimal financial services – i.e. check cashing, ATMs, bill paying, electronic funds transfers and other basic financial services to communities that are underserved by the private sector similar to what the government has done in the past when the private sector has not provided other basic services – like electricity (i.e. the creation of rural electrification). When the private/corporate sector cherry picks or ignores geographic areas or specific communities, it’s the duty of the public sector to fill the gap.
It all seems so reasonable. So modest. So elementary. So sensible. So basic.
So why don’t we have it?
Part of it in an unawareness of what was. The obliteration of our cultural memory / corporatized culture (education, entertainment, news, activism). Just like the efforts of the cooperative movement in general. Farmers coops. Silos.
Other part is pure power politics
Commercial/corporate banks lobbied against their expansion and for their elimination — which occurred in 1967. Postal banks represent a threat. Just like credit unions.
Campaign contributions (or investments) from the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate (FIRE) sector
2000 – $321 mil
2004 – $355 mil
2008 – $518 mil
2012 – $688 mil
2016 – $560 mil (and counting)
Generally they are #1 among all sectors
Subset of FIRE sector are payday lenders
2000 — $300K
2004 – $1.8 mil
2008 – $1.8 mil
2012 – $4 mil
2016 – $1.1 mil (and counting)
2014 – 498 mil (2nd only to misc business)
2015 – slightly less – 485 mil
So we must educate.
But we must also organize. Organized people to counter organized money and corporate power. The ultimate solution is to pass a constitutional amendment to abolish political money as free speech and corporate constitutional rights.
Question is will it be enough?
This Grand Alliance to Save our Public Postal Service is embarking on a Grand Experiment – to see whether conventional education and organizing on an incredibly reasonable, modest and sensible proposal can be enacted
If not, then it will be clear that political reform is not possible. Needed instead will to transform the political system – toward one that is more inclusive, just and democratic.