I've been, happily, a Credit Union member continuously since 1954. The St. Colman Parish Federal Credit Union on the near west side of Cleveland was my CU home for 46 years. That's where I put my paper route earnings starting at age 11. And I kept my share account active long after I'd moved away.
Now, I've been with Educators Credit Union since 1992. I recently mentioned to a bank officer at a Waukesha bank (that I was forced to deal with because my employer used their payroll service) that I am a strong partisan of credit unions and a long-time member.
This bank officer got a sour and censorious look as she lectured me on the fundamental inequity that had her institution paying taxes, while ours is granted special and undeserved privileges and tax exemptions. "All we want is a level playing field".
So, I lectured back:
"My parents, my uncles and aunts never found a level playing field in the dark days of the Great Depression. Bankers didn't want to hear from little people, didn't want to see them. Bankers fought every decent and humane thing that the New Deal stood for. That is your heritage. You may claim the slogan of 'The Bank of Friendly Service', but there's no denying your heritage.
"Credit Unions arose because banks didn't care about the financial needs/plight of ordinary working people and farmers. They are remembered by that generation as heartless foreclosure machines. Working class people did what we had to, elected FDR and supported the New Deal. We welcomed the legislation that allowed federally chartered member-owned cooperative savings and lending institutions.
"Do not, please, lecture me about level playing fields, unless you are willing to propose that we--credit union people--work with you, bank people, on a critical issue in banking. Let's agree to demand with joined voices the re-establishment of the sensible principles of bank regulation underlying the Glass-Steagall Act that flowed out the New Deal's response to the Great Depression. How about if we also agree to insist that "too big to fail" means "too big to exist" and "never too big for jail"?
"Once we get that victory (and a few more) behind us, perhaps we can discuss your grievances and work together on level playing fields".
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- Jim Bouman
- Waukesha, Wisconsin, United States
- Of my biblical allotment of three score and ten I have lived only three of them more than a bicycle ride from one of the Great Lakes. I'm a "somewhat combative pacifist and a fairly cooperative anarchist," after the example of Grace Paley (1922-2007). I'm always cheerful when I pay my taxes (having refused--when necessary--to pay some portion of them). And I always, always vote.