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.
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 BillMoyers.com
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 BillMoyers.com
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.