The Common Good Bank Project

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson

Last Thursday night I heard a presentation at the town library on the Common Good Bank project. (I’m supposed to put a little TM symbol after “Bank”, but don’t know how to, so please know that the name is trademarked by the organization working on the project.) It’s not easy to wrap your mind around the concept, but it’s worth the effort.

Common good banks will be community-based savings banks, designed to provide local economic stability even in the event of national or global economic collapse. Banks will be legally chartered and insured by the FDIC (which insurance is fine as far as it goes, but if a large number of banks fail at once, even the FDIC won’t be able to cover everyone’s losses.)

The overall idea is to keep money and decisions about its use in the hands of people like us, rather than turning control over to corporations so they can tell us how much we may have and under what circumstances.

Here’s the vision statement of the Common Good Finance Corporation, the organizers of this project:

For many of us, life is very good. Still, we share a vision for a better world:

  • a world where everyone is guaranteed adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, and fulfilling work;
  • a world where land, air, water, the beauty of nature and the wealth we have created are protected and used carefully for our common good;
  • a world where community and cooperation are at the center of our lives, where we care about and take care of each and every one of us, delighting in our diversity;
  • a world where decisions are made by everyone, for everyone’s benefit;
  • a world without pollution, weapons, injustice, poverty, disease, misery, obscene consumption, corrupt governments and unrestrained corporations;
  • a world at peace.

Our current economic system works against that vision, benefiting some people while leaving others miserable and desperate. Common good banks are a way to achieve our shared vision a little bit at a time, but very quickly, with immediate benefits for everyone, starting right here, right now.

To see how common good banks could lead to the world of our dreams, click here.

All the Common Good Bank folks ask right now is for people to sign up to show they’re interested in learning more.  There’s no obligation to join a bank when that becomes possible. But your mere show of interest will bring the project closer to fruition.

If you can afford seven minutes and the download time look at the video at the end of this message. Remember, you can start the video, put it on pause, and do something else on or away from your computer while it downloads.

On a personal note, I know more than half the project’s advisory board. The project started in a town in Western Massachusetts and the people behind it are definitely not fuzzy-thinking liberals. They don’t just talk about social justice, they live it.

Marketing research has shown that people usually guess the cost of something they find attractive is higher than it really is, so I want to mention that when it becomes possible to become a depositor and voting member in a common good bank, the minimum required deposit will be $1.  That’s one dollar, not a typo. And nobody is going to ask you to become an investor unless you make the first contact. There’s a law against inviting anyone to invest before the bank is chartered unless they have a net worth of at least a million dollars.

I often suggest you look at a web site.  This time I’m urging you to look — at the frequently asked questions, if nothing else.  It’s a lot to digest all at once, so you’ll probably want to set a bookmark once you get there.

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One Response to “The Common Good Bank Project”

  1. Miryam, you can get the ™ symbol by hitting the alt or option key and the 2 at the same time. Just FYI. 

    This sounds like a GREAT idea. I’ll be following it. 

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