Saturday, August 9, 2014

Public Bankster - Part XIV: Going Postal?

After a brief hiatus, Vermont public banking doyenne and secession movement ally, Gwendolyn Hallsmith, "executive director" of something that calls itself The Public Banking Institute, as well as a principal of a handful of other e-paper hat outlets that exist primarily to exalt its members extremist agenda, has begun posting again.

This time, it's not about public banks (although I'm sure that isn't far from Gwen's mind) but, rather, postal banks.

Hallsmith is promoting, in addition to state run banking facilities, that the post office offer banking services. She points to Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-MA) post office bank proposal as the model with a link to an extremist website (where you can also get nifty ideas on how to improve your activism outreach, à la Cosmo, like stenciling streets and sidewalks with your message while riding your bicycle). What Hallsmith doesn't do is any hard research on the topic. If she'd gone just a little mainstream, she might have learned from a publication that practices real journalism that not everyone is so enthusiastic about Warren's idea. She might also have learned that postal banks have been found to engage in the same predatory fee practices as commercial banks. France's La Banque Postal is just one example; in 2010 it shared with ten other banks a 384,900,000 Euros fine for "colluding to charge unjustified fees on check processing," putting the lie to the notion that because something is "public" it automatically becomes "pure."

Perhaps if Hallsmith had perused the Internet beyond her usual extremist feeding grounds, (and, yes, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal are legitimate sources of insights that aren't rubber stamp references of her particular prejudices) she'd have found, say, The Motley Fool's snarky take on the postal bank proposal:
"Somehow an institution that can't profitably deliver the mail will do a better job handling people's money."
But, no, that'd be too apt to disrupt Hallsmith's anti-capitalist meme. No, she'll more likely convene a meeting at, say, The Donella Institute, invite a coterie of supporters and propose a "study" be done by a promoter of her hobbyhorse - I'm looking at you Gary "The Rocket Scientist" Flomenhoft - who'll retire to his own "institute" and generate a fact biased "study" that'll be peer reviewed by no one and will confirm that Hallsmith's "idea" is the best thing since Ben & Jerry's. Yeah, that's the ticket!

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