BILL MOYERS: You will have noticed that our two guests are hopeful men. Paul Volcker, as formidable an establishment figure as there is, thinks common sense will yet prevail in Congress. Here’s to him! But frankly, ranchers praying for rain to end the drought in Texas probably have better odds.

As for Carne Ross: he says you can’t count on the system to do the right thing, and he imagines a different way of politics and commerce altogether, more accountable to democracy and diversity than to powerbrokers and players at the top. That’s a long reach in a country whose political system is biased against reform. But as we’ve been reporting for the past two weeks, there are some answers blowing in the wind. Just last week, "The Wall Street Journal" reported on how a movement to challenge big banks at the local level has gained momentum around the country. The Los Angeles City Council is considering an ordinance that would gather foreclosure and other data on banks that do business with the city. Officials in Kansas City, Missouri, passed a resolution directing the city manager to do business only with banks that are responsive to the community. And here in New York City, legislation is pending to require banks to invest in local neighborhoods if they want to hold city deposits. Similar actions are underway in other cities.

Of course, these activists are up against one of the country’s most powerful industries. Lobbyists for the financial sector spent nearly half a billion dollars last year. But as you can see, these activists are beginning to get traction locally. And they don’t seem put off by the magnitude of taking on Goliath with slingshots. In the closing pages of his book, Carne Ross asks them – and us – to remember something too many have forgotten-- "that we are at our best in adventure, compassion for others, and the aspiration for something greater.” Only when confronted by unfathomable challenge, he writes, “only then are we truly alive.”

That’s it for this week. If you want to find out more about how Carne Ross would change the world and its banking system, you can ask him yourself. This Tuesday, we’ll be hosting a special live chat with Carne Ross. Learn more and start submitting your questions at

And because April is National Poetry Month, spend some time on our Poets & Writers page for interviews and performances, including poems by the great Adrienne Rich, who died just this past week. That’s at

Coming up, a dynamic woman of ideas and action: Angela Glover Blackwell.

ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL: America can see its future. And it's a five-year-old Latina girl. It is a seven-year-old black boy. What happens to them will determine what America looks like. And many of the young people who are already 18, 19, 20 are going to be the workers of the near future.

BILL MOYERS: That’s all for now. See you next time.

Bill Moyers Essay: Restructuring Wall Street From the Bottom Up

In this essay, Bill shares how several American cities, including Los Angeles, Kansas City, and New York City, are challenging big banks, and holding them accountable to their communities.

  • submit to reddit
  • GradyLeeHoward

    Let’s assume that Easter distracted our audience from this show. If so, this would be the ideal one to rebroadcast at a later time. Maybe I’m wrong to measure viewership by the  comments pages, but in any case I’m astounded by the unresponsiveness of the public to these important subjects and ideas. I am firmly convinced that M&C is being frozen out by identifiable and powerful opposed forces. (even PBS) It’s almost like when Newscorp, through their security branch, sabotaged British and Australian competitors by providing the means to breach their paywalls. I hope my name and address used in commenting here has not drawn the ire of the National Security State and their biggest clients toward a harmless educational media group, Public Affairs Television. But then again, I warned of the staleness of Paul Volker and the byzantine nature of Federal regulation in earlier posts.
    Look, if you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t ,might as well host up some hardcore Occupiers before you go out of business. Are you Bonanza, or are you The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour? Better decide soon.

  • Chrehn

    Thank you once again to Bill Moyers and Company. Please keep up the good work.

  • Anonymous

    The problem is in the sub title of your essay: how “banks” should be heald accountable.  It should read “bankers” as in real people who must be hald accountable.  In all your discussion with Volker, banks, banks, banks, and no mention of bankers.  If bankers are not made to feel that there is a consequences to the decisions they make, as in real economic cost to them, jail time, humiliation, then they will continue with their venality.  And that is also the problem with the quote from Carne’s book.  the failure to recognize that you cannot outlaw greed, you outlaw and impose consequences for specific behaviors, and that you must recognize that in addressing that (and not all the airy fairy wishes) then it is just talk, talk, talk….

  • Jeff Dietrich

    Thank you for coming out of retirement once again, Bill Moyers! My wife & I have enjoyed watching you over the years, hope to see you for many many more.

  • Anonymous

    According to old accounts Diogenes the Cynic threw  a plucked chicken into Athens’ assembly
    after Plato defined a person as “an animal, biped and featherless.” Diogenes
    vowed poverty and slept in a tub near the market. He’d been expelled from his
    hometown for defacing the currency (minting strange coins with derogatory
    legends). Once, as a performance piece, he took a lit lantern in daylight and
    scoured the city seeking “a genuine person.” Would Diogenes accept this essay
    (Restructuring Wall Street From the Bottom Up) as genuine?


    I think not. What if
    John Brown had started out in 1855 “to restructure slavery from the bottom up”?
    By the time such a bill had gotten through Congress they’d have had something
    as self-defeating as the Affordable Healthcare Act or Medicare Part D,
    something tat served power and corruption as it pretended to protect huan
    rights. Carne Ross has fallen into the same habit as Moyers because in this
    corrupt society no one can search out an “honest bank” (analogous to Diogenes
    proverbial honest man) even with the candlepower of the Sun. The credit
    union  exists already and is better only
    because it is smaller. And what is  the
    purpose of maintaining the banking system as we know it when most of our
    citizens are debtors, and our very government is said to lie prostrate before
    financiers: bankrupt. What could one have done to reform slavery while keeping
    the unweildy and outdated, and not the least; barbaric, institution intact? If
    in trading the slave was protected in not being “sold down the river” (exported
    to Mississippi or Cuba) or keeping nuclear families whole the speculators in
    slave marketing would immediately claim such restrictions as onerous, would say
    they defeated commercial efficiency, and would begin threatening to disobey Federal
    statute under the cloak  of states
    rights. After a period of false copromise we would have returned to the brink
    of Civil War, with much time and lives wasted. Our financial system, like
    slavery, cannot be reformed, because it is outmoded by technology and
    intellectual sophistication. It is riddled with endemic corruption and
    collapsing upon itself globally. And in the face of this Moyers and Ross
    recommend we replicate this catastrophe in a more transparent and humane local
    form. So I must ask; how long does a weak sister last in  a milieu of piracy?


    My point here is that
    Moyers through Ross is playing with a faint idea of Anarchy, and is so steeped
    in the present conventions, that discussing the needed paradigm shifts is
    unthinkable. If we take the basic premises of Ross and many more imaginative
    modern anarchists they recommend direct democracy and posit a perfectable
    citizenry. Money as we know it is absent from these postulations so how can it
    make any sense to waste energy building banks. It’s like flint knapping in  a 
    junk yard. Diogenes would have a good laugh.

    “Defaced currency”
    indeed!!!!! Talk about illusions and fetishism…