Bernie Sanders: good old wine in a good old bottle

23.10.2015 - Tony Henderson

Bernie Sanders: good old wine in a good old bottle
Bernie and Jane (Image by Bernie Sanders)

Post Office banking makes a lot of sense wherever in the world, surely in the US of A where Bernie Sanders has voice and somewhere between 20 to 40 percent of the population has to rely on cheque-cashing or payday-lending services, which tool often charge usurious rates that send people into curlicues of recurring debt.

Senator Bernie Sanders is very much like the UK’s Jeremy Corbyn given his features of democratic socialism steadfastly stated in his campaign for the president seat which is knocking spots off the republican candidate’s campaigns and is even denting Hillary Clinton’s assault on the same seat into the bargain – which all the political pundits are too easily poo-pooing.

Bernie – let’s call him that so casually as he’s is such a nice chap – is also calling to bring higher taxation of the wealthiest US citizens, besides an increased minimum wage, and oh-my-god for the break up of the biggest Wall Street banks – especially those Too-Big-To-Fail financial institutions.

But the proposal to enhance the U.S.A.’s post offices with banking services is telling of his feet-on-the-ground understanding of how things work – and importantly, how and why they are not working for the common man.

I also think that the Post Office can play an important role in providing modest types of banking service to those who need such. This was proposed by the Humanist Association of Hong Kong many years ago and as it was understood at the time the banking cartel here made sure the government did not follow up on the scheme and we remain with the problem of small savers having to hold a minimum of HK$5,000 in their bank accounts. For those people who live close to the economic margins that universal regulation means low-wage and no-wage persons and even more discriminated against by the uncaring banks and submissive government departments that are supposed to be for the people, if not by the people!

Post office banking means that post offices run savings accounts, can cash checks, and perform other basic financial services – as is common in most of Asia and Europe – as a public bank, also offering financial transactions, remittance, and small lending services as a really good way to assist people who haven’t access to standard savings accounts. All of society would thereby benefit. In the absence of shareholders, there would be no drive to seek profits and services could be provided at cost.

It was in the U.S.A. in 1910 that William Howard Taft introduced a postal-savings system for new immigrants and the poor that lasted until 1967, certainly proving a great boon for people without access to banks in the moment.

In the UK we had and have a similar service, plus co-operative society banking which in its moment was very popularly used. As society is much more flush now, these facilities have fell out of popularity but with all this talk of austerity and as there is a limited social safety net these days, any loosening of the ever-tightening monetary regime is welcome at the ‘bottom end’.

As to Hong Kong, the Post Office, as Hong Kong Post, would have to be re-nationalised.

Categories: Economics, North America, Opinions
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