The sky is not (yet) falling

I need to clarify my previous post, on the cheery subject of banking industry shenanigans.

It seems that I was a little sloppy, apparently not putting enough energy into clearly making and stating my case. In particular, I failed to distinguish my writing from the “economic apocalypse” blog genre, and apparently came across as making a claim that the banking industry is about to collapse and take down the rest of the economy and we’re all going to die. And, by extension, that it is all Obama’s and/or Bush’s fault.

There’s a lot of such writing these days, and I wouldn’t rule out a pretty grim economic scenario. However, I don’t know enough about what tricks the Fed and its international banking conspiracy friends have up their sleeves to make any sort of informed prediction beyond observing that there is a pretty strong precedent set by the eventual collapse of every single empire in history. And we are all indeed going to die…eventually.

So why did I write that little rant? Why not just stick to my usual approach of focusing on the really cool ways that people are organizing cooperatively to lessen the impact of whatever negativity flows out of the banking industry and government?

The main reason is that it seems like the government is now firmly in the business of deciding which enterprises live, and which die. For that reason, it is important that it make good decisions.

However, the federal government has not been making decisions that look good to me (beyond the short term of avoiding a sudden economic collapse, which was important and good). Not only is it shoveling tax dollars at the people who made the mess, but it also seems to be shoveling tax dollars at people who are merrily making new messes. Unless government learns from its mistakes, I fear we may be in for more rough sledding.

So it is even more important that we take seriously our own responsibility to decide where our money goes, whether that means savings, investment, or spending. That’s why I ended with my little sales pitch about credit unions. I want to help spread the word that there are alternatives. They may not be perfect, but I think they’re our best chance at creating something new and better out of the smoking wreckage of “free market” banking.

Not only do financial cooperatives provide an opportunity to put our money where it is more likely to be put to good use (and we are more likely to have a say in defining “good”). But they create a venue in which we can build democratic and grassroots economic structures that are not based on hoping the government and banks make the right decisions.

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