Yesterday, the New Mexico House of Representatives unanimously decided to move the state's money into small banks and credit unions, becoming yet another example of the fact that progressive change will not come from the top down.
In the context of the larger movement against the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street, this is a dramatic repudiation of that behavior from a somewhat unexpected source.
The bill enables a possible switch of $2-5 billion of state funds into CUs and small banks.
If enacted, the municipal funds bill, in the works since last year and still subject to a Senate vote, would represent a setback to large national banks, like Bank of America and Wells Fargo, which have had a lock on such funds.
The altered view of New Mexico lawmakers in favoring local control of state funds, officials said, follows national mention of the New Mexico effort in the "Move Your Money" campaign of New York pundit Arianna Huffington in her online Huffington Post columns.
The bill has two steps to take until it becomes law: first, it must pass the New Mexcio Senate. Then, it must be signed by Governor Bill Richardson. Fortunately, it does supposedly have Richardson's support. Once it becomes law, it will not require an immediate transfer of all of the states money, but,
Egolf's bill would direct the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration to "give a preference to a community bank to act as the fiscal agent of the general fund operating cash depository account."
According to the Huffington Post - which has been one of the primary promoters, along with Arianna Huffington herself, of the Move Your Money campaign - the state's checking account has a value of about $1.4 billion and is currently managed by Bank Of America.
In the same way that states are taking the lead on single payer health care, it seems that states and local governments are taking the lead in the fight against Wall Street corruption. Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York has pledged to put a small amount of the city's money into "neighborhood credit unions," and in Oregon gubernatorial candidate Bill Bradbury is proposing a similar move.
"There's a whole lot of anger because we bailed them out and now they won't lend," said Bradbury in an interview with the Huffington Post. "You're not seeing lending to small- and medium-sized businesses. So, phooey! Phooey! Let's just do it ourselves."
Since Bradbury announced his proposal to create a "Bank of Oregon" on Jan. 20, he said he has gotten an overwhelmingly positive response from both Republicans and Democrats.
Bradbury stressed that his proposal is not to create an actual bank or government agency. Rather, "Bank of Oregon" is the name for the mechanism by which the state government would deposit money in local bank, which would subsequently invest in local businesses. He said it would be similar to the Bank of North Dakota, the only state-owned bank in the nation.
This is all part of a largely grassroots movement to combat corporate greed, corruption, and control over our lives. The Move Your Money campaign is one part of that, and one that is having growing success. It is a movement that recognizes that we cannot be saved by electing politicians, but must act to save ourselves. In that vein, I'll conclude with an excerpt from Daily Kos user goinsouth's diary that gives a few tips about moving your money and changing your life through positive action:
If you don't like what Bank of America is doing with your money, what are you going to do about it? Write a letter? Complain to the local branch manager who has as little say as you? Pray that Congress enacts a law requiring better behavior from the banks? If you think your local credit union ought to be loaning your deposits to the local worker cooperative or a new company working in green technology, you can bring it up at the annual meeting. Better yet, you can discuss it face-to-face with some of the board members over a beer or cup of coffee. Best of all, organize some of the members and put one of you on the managing board where you can turn an idea into policy.
Democracy at work. You may not always get your way, but you can always get your say. The end result might be that worthy projects and businesses in your local community get some much-needed investment, AND you might just start to believe again that this world is salvageable, one credit union loan at a time.
How do you move your money to a credit union? I'd suggest you go here and put your zip code in this credit union search tool. Some credit unions will be limited to people who work for certain employers, but many are open to anyone within the geographical area where the credit union is headquartered. You might also want to check to see if the credit union is insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, a federal agency that insures credit union deposits the way the FDIC insures deposits in privately owned banks.