As anyone who has read the papers or seen the news in the last few years knows, banks around the world have broken numerous serious laws, have had to be bailed out with taxpayers money, and yet still pay millions of dollars to inept executives and billions more to stockholders. I was reminded of this today when I looked at the Royal Bank’s financial statements showing that they made $221m in pure profit EVERY WEEK last year. That is $221m of YOUR money given every week to someone else.
There has to be a better way, and there is.
I would oblige all banks to become credit unions and I would strictly limit their functionality.
Credit unions are not-for-profit institutions cooperatively owned by their members. They operate solely for the benefit of their members rather than for outside shareholders, of whom there would be none. Their senior management is elected by the members and their policies are offered up for approval at regular meetings of the membership. Senior management remuneration would require members’ approval. The billions of dollars that are currently paid out in dividends to outsiders would be used to increase services and lower costs for the members. Any surplus could be re-paid to the members or added to the credit union’s capital.
I would limit their functionality to the taking, managing and disbursement of members’ deposits, and to the issuance of personal loans (including credit cards) and personal mortgages. Any member or corporation that required business loans, corporate mortgages, investments or insurance would turn to investment companies, mortgage brokers and insurance companies designed specifically for that function.
No one would be limited in their desire to engage in stock market or other investments. But these would be handled entirely by companies separate from banks. No longer would bank depositors’ cash be at risk in the marketplace for derivatives, for example.
Competition between credit unions, if such were needed, would become a function of service and accessibility. I believe this would get us more branches on the streets and a more personalized service between member and bank. It would bring banking back to the people, to a smaller more human scale that we can understand and control — after all, it is our money they are using.
I actually spent four days or more at home without my computer. That was odd. I realised that much of my daily life — my to do lists, my medical record-keeping, my recipes, my banking — was all centred around the box that I didn’t have to hand. Somehow I survived (and didn’t even have to watch England being tormented in the first Ashes Test).
I spent a lot of time reading (getting through two Jo Nesbo novels of 500+pages each) and listening to the CBC Radio. I also scribbled a few pages of notes that, even to me, look more like proto-Japanese than English.
It was a joy to get the machine back this morning, but the pleasant feeling slowly dissipated as I worked my way through several hundred emails.
It was a spontaneous gesture
— unplanned, unexpected
completely out of place
compared to her routine liquid grace —
but one that cannot be erased.
Her aura, the gentle appearance;
soft natural makeup,
the smart marquisette frock,
the deliberately misplaced lock
of hair; her exact air was grazed
in that simple moment of caution
released and disentrenched.
The extended finger,
— erect, phallic, rude — didn’t linger;
but he felt it to whom it was raised.