is the author of the soon to be published novel “Pursuits of Happiness” and is at work on a second book, the non-fiction “Maple Lane: Levittown PA 1962 – 2012”. Mike holds a BA in Government from Franklin and Marshall College (Lancaster, PA).
An international transportation and logistics executive, Mike has broad experience in American politics and government. He is currently a director of the Public Banking Institute and is chair of The Pennsylvania Project, a non-partisan public policy advocacy organization.
He is a lecturer and occasional commentator on talk radio. His byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, in the web site www.Opednews.com and regularly as a guest columnist in the Bucks County Courier Times.
The United States remains
trapped in a slow moving social catastrophe.
Millions of unemployed,
late middle aged Americans will never again have full-time, good paying jobs.
More millions of the nation’s college educated young are unemployed or
underemployed and saddled with debt. The number of children whose diet depends
on food stamps is soaring. The nation’s infrastructure continues its descent to
Third World status, as public education crumbles with it.
Political power flows from
wealth. When wealth is concentrated, so also is political power. Wealth and
political power in the United States are now so grotesquely concentrated as to
threaten democracy itself.
An apartheid America is
emerging: the wealthy few, served by a second tier of retainers (presidents,
members of Congress, corporate media, etc), who facilitate the expropriation of
what once was the greatest and most broadly shared prosperity the world had
even known, as millions are reduced to poverty.
What can be done to arrest
Stop looking to Washington.
Look to Main Street.
The most striking
characteristic of the American people has been and remains its diversity, and
the magnitude of that diversity. There is nothing to match it. If it can be
enabled, that diversity will fire up the engine of American ingenuity and
But Washington will not
light that fire.
The place to enable and
harness the diversity of America is in its cities, counties and states.
The key is banking.
American banking today is
as concentrated and dysfunctional as Washington. Nine banks now hold 75 percent
of all assets in the U.S. banking system. Yet the system fails in its most
important function: the effective allocation of capital and credit into the
The trillions of dollars
pumped into the failed and bailed banks never got past Wall Street. They sit
instead in the banks’ reserve accounts with the Federal Reserve, to prop up
balance sheets that are more fiction than fact and make huge profits on the
interest rate spread.
While American cities,
schools, infrastructure and families disintegrate.
The U.S. banking system
urgently needs an overhaul, and it is underway: the creation of a network of
state, county and municipal “public” banks, modeled on the hugely successful
Bank of North Dakota (BND).
Public banks, often
referred to as “partnership” banks, are capitalized with public funds and
assets, which are then leveraged as with any bank, to provide affordable and
sustainable credit which is distributed into the productive economy in
partnership with private, community banks.
Public banks are not retail
banks (the BND has one office). They are run by professionals, paid as civil
servants, receiving no mega salaries, bonuses or commissions as incentive for
the kind of run-away risk taking that crashed Wall Street. Profits are
reinvested in the loan portfolio or returned as non-tax revenue to the general
fund of the jurisdiction that established the bank.
The BND has a current
commercial loan portfolio of more than $2.9 billion and has returned an average
of $30 million a year over the past decade to North Dakota taxpayers — in a
state with a population of about 670,000.
Public banks eliminate the
need for unproductive government “rainy day” funds, can provide disaster relief
and low cost student loans, and substantially reduce debt service on municipal
bonds and infrastructure projects. They do this by bidding down interest rates,
or when the bank buys bonds, returning the interest paid by taxpayers to the
Public banks work
counter-cyclically in the economy, maintaining credit flows during economic
downturns, as has been amply demonstrated both in North Dakota, and nations
whose economies were sustained by their public banks through the recession that
devastated the U.S.
Finally, public banks can
serve as the depository institutions for public funds and revenues, bringing billions
of dollars back from Wall Street to Main Street, and begin to break the
stranglehold the banksters have on the wealth of America.