Principled Resistance

The American Solidarity Party stands for a consistently pro-life political program dedicated to defending human life and dignity from conception to natural death. We stand for a politics of solidarity, particularly with the poor and vulnerable, expressed as much as possible through decentralized, interpersonal methods. This consistent, broad, whole life approach provides a unique and principled, moral alternative to the corrupt power politics of the two major parties. We seek not to be accepted by the political paradigm of right and left, but to reject it in favor of a political reality based outside the dichotomy.

As a party, we are deeply concerned about the trajectory of Donald Trump’s Presidency. A wave of understandable resentment against the corrupt establishment politics of the Democratic Party has swept an unprincipled provocateur to power — a son of privilege who poses disingenuously as the champion of the white working class. While we agree with some of President Trump’s goals, such as his moves to restrict and discourage abortion, we find most of his actions since his taking office to be alarming. We are particularly opposed to his draconian Executive Order Regarding Immigration and Refugees; and in general to his attempts, both as a candidate and as President, to scapegoat immigrants and/or Muslims for perceived problems in American society. We must not, as a society, throw vulnerable people under the bus in the name of “security”. We are also opposed to moves by both President Trump and the Republicans in Congress to scrap the Affordable Care Act without instituting a credible alternative, and in general to take measures that punish the poor and make it harder for them to thrive. Our commitment to defending the unborn goes hand in hand with a commitment to protect the dignity and well-being of those who are already born, and in particular to create conditions that will make women less likely to feel the need to seek the terrible option of abortion.

There are many who will feel that in the name of unity, we must put these concerns aside, or ignore the doubts of our consciences; and while we respect the ideals of their beliefs, we must disagree with the way in which they are expressed. The actions described above, and others like them, are a threat to human dignity. Not just the dignity of those who are targeted, but also of those who accept the actions themselves. As citizens of our country, and as members of a political party dedicated to the Common Good, we will resist by all just and peaceful means available to us. We will speak out, as a party and as individuals. We will build coalitions with other organizations. We will seek out and nominate thoughtful, conscientious candidates who are willing to stand against the overwhelming historical tide of partisan politics. We are, as an organization, committed not to conciliatory acceptance and acquiescence, but to principled, peaceful opposition and resistance to the actions of any administration, national or local, that violate our core principles of human life, human dignity, social justice, and environmental responsibility. The very rise of this party itself began as a means of peaceful opposition to the corruption that came before, and the bleak reality of an election season marked by acrimonious censure of all measured viewpoints, and moderate ideas. Now is not the time to merely hope for better days, we must rededicate ourselves to a sincere and constant mission to achieve them.

This is a moment of decision in American history, and the history of the American Solidarity Party. The Trump Presidency is a symptom, not the cause, of a deep, divisive malaise in American public life, stemming from the loss of the concept of the common good. Americans are separated from their neighbors and divided from their communities. We are committed, as a party, to defending the Common Good against threats from both sides of the conventional political spectrum. We will not allow anything to compromise that vision.

Response to Executive order on migrants and refugees

On January 28th, 2017, the American Solidarity Party released this statement in solidarity with refugees and others impacted by President Trump’s recent executive actions on migration.

President Trump recently signed an executive order that bans the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for at least 90 days, even if they already have valid U.S. visas or are legal permanent U.S. residents. In addition, he has suspended the entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days and has barred the entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely. President Trump states that these “extreme vetting” measures were established to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of our country. The American Solidarity Party supports the goal of preventing terrorists from reaching our shores; but in these executive orders, President Trump has escalated and exploited a climate of fear that is far disproportionate to the actual threat. National Security and border integrity is an essential duty of government; however, we must refuse to make false choices between security and taking care of the least of those among us. There are options based on common good, common ground, and common sense.

The existing process for refugee vetting is robust and thorough, but we welcome and encourage a review and potential strengthening that respects all people and honors our previous commitments to visa and green card holders. Government should also partner with groups in the U.S. that have experience in dealing with refugees, which would enable smoother transitions for refugees and local communities. We also stand firmly by the practice of giving priority to women, children, those who have been subjected to torture, and the disabled. The smart thing to do and the right thing to do are not mutually exclusive, despite the media and administration’s insistence otherwise.

We applaud the court decision to stay elements of the executive order, but we know that this one action is not enough. Our country can successfully protect its citizens while simultaneously standing in solidarity with the majority of Muslim Nationals, and the scared and huddled masses who mean this country no harm. We stand in solidarity with any person from one of these seven countries who considers the United States a land of opportunity – who desires to live here, work hard, and follow our laws. We stand in solidarity with every refugee who has fled a war-torn country begging for humanitarian assistance, believing that America is a beacon of light and hope to the world. In justice, they deserve a home, and in solidarity, we can offer one.

Hon. Neil M. Gorsuch Nomination to Supreme Court

American Solidarity Party Responds to the Nomination of the Hon. Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—The American Solidarity Party (ASP) today responded to the nomination, by President Trump of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court:

The American Solidarity Party expresses its hope that the Senate confirmation process for Judge Gorsuch will be thorough and fair, and draw attention to critical issues enshrined in our party’s platform. It is our hope that the upcoming Senate hearings furnish the American people with a full picture of Judge Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy.

A key issue of concern to the party, and a growing majority of Americans, is the right to life. The ASP believes that life should be protected from conception until natural death, constitutionally, statutorily, and judicially. For any potential Supreme Court Justice, this demands a recognition of the flawed and unconstitutional nature of past rulings which have undermined this most basic right, especially the fateful Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. This also requires, at a bare minimum, recognizing that many existing and pending laws protecting pre-natal life at both the state and federal level are constitutionally valid and in service to the common good. In this context, too, the party reiterates its platform commitments to seeking an end to capital punishment; a legal prohibition against euthanasia and assisted suicide; a ban on gestational surrogacy contracts; and special attention and care for women, the elderly, immigrants, and other vulnerable persons.

Religious freedom rights, which are enshrined in our Constitution as a “right to free exercise” and not merely “freedom of worship” are also a significant concern to the party. The Constitution clearly protects our right to live by our religious convictions, both within our halls of worship and in the larger world outside them. This matter will be especially critical as it will come before the court in cases dealing with issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as in connection with immigration policy, national defense, Native American tribal claims, and other fields of law.

The party recognizes the importance of judicial restraint, and the need to maintain a firm separation of powers and robust checks and balances within our government. Nevertheless, it is also the case that the courts are often one of the only avenues through which the politically powerless, the economically or socially disadvantaged, or otherwise marginalized citizens may have their voice heard and their rights secured. We hope, therefore, that Judge Gorsuch will express his commitment to protecting civil rights for all citizens, and particularly the most vulnerable.

Additional critical questions that the Supreme Court will almost certainly address in the coming years, and about which it will be necessary to gauge Judge Gorsuch’s views, include:

  • Free assembly and expression rights, including the right to protest and demonstrate;
  • Rights of workers to be free from discrimination in the workplace, to organize and form association in pursuit of their mutual interests, and to safeguard high standards of safety and health in the workplace;
  • Criminal justice rights;
  • Voter rights;
  • Limitations on executive power;

It is crucial that Judge Gorsuch is questioned substantively regarding all these concerns by the Senate so that citizens can contact their legislators and engage meaningfully in the process of consent for an appointee to the highest judicial office. On Judge Gorsuch’s part, we hope that he will give the American people assurance of his commitment not only to upholding and defending the Constitution, but also to serving true justice and the common good.

Dylan Roof and right to life

This month millions will continue to speak out against the 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade by using the anniversary of the decision to participate in Walk for Life and March for Life events across the nation. This incredible show of support for the dignity of human life is one that the American Solidarity Party is proud to take part in. As our members come together to honor the lives of the unborn, we must recommit to the fullness of our dedication to the dignity and value of all Life.

For the first time in a federal hate crime case, a jury has delivered a death sentence. On June 17, 2015, twenty-two year old white supremacist Dylann Roof entered the Emanuel African Methodist Church and, motivated by hate and prejudice, took the lives of nine people. In his own words, his intent was to start a race war. This unconscionable and horrific act of of vitriolic hate can only face a response of absolute rejection and abhorrence. This willful act of violence brings lasting pain to the nation, to local communities, and to the families of all the victims. This is the kind of terrible injustice that must be stridently renounced in the strongest terms, and which we, as a society, have an obligation to strive to end. And this, this kind of incomprehensible hate, is a mindset that forces us to face the real implications of a genuine dedication to Life.

It is our belief in the inherent dignity of every human person that urges us to unequivocally condemn Roof’s actions and, at the same time, oppose his impending execution. We cannot afford to treat any lives as though they are disposable, for when one life becomes disposable, they all do. The timeless words of Martin Luther King must be embedded in our hearts:

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”

The racism of Dylann Roof is violent and evil, but perpetuating his violence by executing him will not bring peace. The American Solidarity Party stands in opposition to the death penalty not as a form of idealistic pacifism, but rather to ensure the practical disruption of the “descending spiral” of violence. Let us firmly, for once and for all, make this our steadfast stance: We condemn the act of violence that took those nine lives, we condemn the act of violence that will take Dylann Roof’s life, and we stand together to restore an abundant culture of life to the American political and social landscape.

Response to the Dakota Access Pipeline Standoff

By Mike Maturen

In recent weeks, our country has been faced with yet another standoff between the government and her citizens. Like so many before this one, violence has ensued.

With the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy, there are many sides to the issue, and all of them are complicated and seemingly inexorably intertwined. The sides are not willing to compromise, yet compromise is needed. All sides seem to have valid (if flawed) arguments, but none is willing to hear them.

At odds are the pipeline company, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, environmentalists and a whole coalition of farmers, ranchers and citizens joining forces with the Tribe.

While I understand the argument for getting oil piped to where it is needed, there are alternatives that must be looked at. In addition to the cost of building the pipeline, the environmental costs must be weighed as well.

The pipeline company says that it will use the latest and greatest technology, ensuring safety of the people and the surrounding environment. But even new technology can be a problem, as the explosion of the Alabama pipeline just this week has proven. A similar problem with the Dakota Access Pipeline could pollute the waters of the Missouri River for years to come.

While we await new advances in clean energy, the government and the oil companies must explore safer and more efficient ways to transport oil.

Finally, this standoff once again highlights the poor treatment of Native Americans by the United States government. The pipeline, according to the Standing Rock Tribe, would violate so-called “treaty land” that was established many years ago by the federal government. Many tribes have had their treaty lands violated over the years. This poor and unfair treatment of this country’s natives must stop.

The native peoples had their land taken away from them by the government, and then bits and pieces of it “given back” in reparation. If the United States government is to be seen as a government of good will, ethics and character, it must not continue to violate the treaties it has established.

I call for the government and the pipeline company to stand down. Meetings must be established with all parties, and solutions hammered out that are fair to all. It is time for the American government to do the right thing…for our country, for our business, for our environment, and most importantly for our people…ESPECIALLY the people who lost so much at the foundation of this country.

COLORADO BALLOT ACCESS

The American Solidarity Party has successfully placed its presidential candidate, Mike Maturen and his running mate Juan Muñoz of Texas on the ballot in Colorado. Todd Lowman, the chair of the American Solidarity Party of Colorado, praised the Colorado Secretary of State’s office for its responsiveness, allowing the party to finish raising funds for the filing fee, recruit a slate of presidential electors, and turn in the necessary paperwork hours before the state’s deadline on August 10. Lowman invites potential campaign volunteers to join the American Solidarity Party of Colorado’s Facebook group or contact him at coloradoasp@yahoo.com. The ASP sees opportunities in Colorado, where the Republican Party is widely dissatisfied with presidential candidate Donald Trump’s polarizing rhetoric and unclear policy positions, while many voters of all political identifications are uncomfortable with the Democratic Party’s views on abortion and growing centralization of authority in the Federal government, among other issues.

The ASP also hopes to achieve ballot access this month in Louisiana and Florida, as these states also give third parties a greater chance to succeed. Chris Reed, the chair of the American Solidarity Party of Louisiana, who expressed excitement about the possibility of voting for a “whole life party”, notes that the party does not yet have a member willing to serve as a presidential elector from the fourth congressional district, centered near Shreveport, and must raise $500 by August 19. In Florida, the ASP is filing paperwork to be officially incorporated as a state political party, and must have 29 presidential electors officially registered with the party by the end of August. The ASP state chapters in Louisiana and Florida each have active Facebook groups. The ASP is also exploring possibilities for presidential ballot access in several other states, is actively working to register the presidential ticket as a write-in campaign in over 30 states, plans to join efforts by other minor parties to overturn difficult ballot access laws, and is preparing to build local organizations which will run candidates for a variety of offices in the 2018 elections.

The party’s platform, which can be found here, is inspired by Catholic social teaching and the ideas of Christian Democratic parties in Europe. In contrast to its socially conservative views, it is center-left on most issues related to economics, immigration, the environment, and foreign policy, while arguing for local government control of policy when practical and significant reforms in taxation. Its members are aware that running a primarily write-in campaign for President in most states is a difficult task, but presidential candidate Mike Maturen has argued that current partisan polarization has made the development of alternatives necessary. The ASP has also determined that the Libertarian Party, Green Party and other minor parties do not hold to the values present in the American Solidarity Party’s platform, and that they, along with the Democrats and Republicans, leave a significant segment of the electorate unrepresented. By most measures (registered members and social media followers), the party has doubled in size since the nomination of the presidential ticket last month. Its public Facebook page comes in slightly ahead of the Reform Party and only slightly behind Better for America, two more well-known centrist parties running similar presidential campaigns, which will have ballot access in only a few states while running write-in campaigns in most others.

The party’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates are available for print, radio and television interviews, and the national and state parties are running an active social media campaign. Vice-presidential candidate, Juan Munoz, in a statement for this press release, thanked supporters in Colorado and across the nation; “I’m excited to hear the ticket will be on the ballot in Colorado. More than that, I’m humbled to be part of a movement that would inspire people to volunteer their time, talent, and treasure in order to give themselves the best choice for the future of our country.”

Statement on Violence in the Streets

By Mike Maturen

Over the past few years, and more markedly over the past few weeks, our nation has seen an increase of violence in the streets. There are many factors that have contributed to this uptick.

Let me preface my remarks by stating this: All lives are sacred, whether they be black, brown, white, blue or otherwise. While this has, indeed, become a difficult race relations issue, I believe we can work together to reduce violence, hate and death in our cities.

The heart of our party is community. It is what Distributism is all about. Our nation was founded on the principles of Freedom. Freedom is what allows demonstrations, such as Black Lives Matter and others, to happen. This ability to express ourselves is a good thing. It was one of the driving forces for change during the civil rights movement. It can be a driving force for change today.

But, in order for that change to occur, we must hold fast to the principles taught by the great civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr…that of non-violent protest. These principles apply to all forms of protest by varied and diverse groups. While the vast majority of these protests have, indeed, been peaceful, there has been a recent increase in tensions.

Why can’t we have that today? Why have so many protests lately ended up with tension, violence and even worse, death? It is a heart problem. In order to change it, we must work to change the heart and soul of our people.

One possible solution is community policing. Many years ago, it was not uncommon to find police officers walking a beat, out among the people. This system seemed to work well. The people knew their local cops, and the cops knew the people. They had relationship. For the most part, that resulted in trust.

When help was needed, the people knew they could rely on their local police officer to be there. As part of the community policing process, increased accountability of police officers must be implemented. Other suggestions might include Problem Oriented Policing as seen in Madison, Wisconsin. While there has always been tension between law enforcement and the general public, these can be greatly reduced through the community policing model.

Such was seen recently when police officers had a picnic with the members of the Black Lives Matter movement in Wichita, Kansas. The goal was to build relationship. I applaud and encourage such actions.

Another solution is for all of us to sit down as a community and hammer out a strategy. One problem in American politics today (and I used to be this way too) is that we are not willing to listen to those we disagree with. We have made up our minds that we are right, no matter what. It has been said that if you really want to learn, you should listen to those you disagree with. REALLY listen. We must have open minds.

Finally, I believe the ultimate answer to crime and violence lies in the reduction of poverty. Desperate times lead to desperate measures. Otherwise good people, when their backs are against the wall, will do what they need to do to feed their families and keep their heads above water. This is not making excuses…it is reality.

The principles of distributism and subsidiarity can, and will, help this. We as a party must do a better job of getting the word out about our economic plan. We must work with currently elected officials at both the state and federal levels to pass legislation that moves us closer to this ideal.

I pledge, as your Presidential nominee, that I will seek out legislators from both major parties that are sympathetic to our policies and work with them to move this country forward.
Our slogan says it all: Common Good, Common Ground, Common Sense.

THIS is how we can move America forward.

Statement on shootings

In the wake of the recent and tragic events in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas, we in the American Solidarity Party offer our prayers and deepest condolences for the victims and their loved ones. Every death is a tragedy, because every person is loved by someone left behind.

All people are created by God with dignity and rights. The right to life is the source of all other human rights, and it is only when an aggressor leaves no other reasonable means of defense that a life can be taken.

We cannot be content, however, with abstract principles. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observed, “No American can afford to be apathetic about the problem of racial justice. It is a problem that meets every man at his front door.” This is because community is the foundation of civil society, and a decrease of the sense of community has cast a shadow of fear and tension across the streets of America. We cannot expect peace for ourselves when we do nothing for the peace of others.

The American Solidarity Party, in support of those who suffer the effects of discrimination, whether intentional or systemic, and of those who defend the public at the risk of their own lives, calls for the following measures:

First: Every community must move swiftly, through public dialogue, to foster trust and understanding between police and the citizens they serve. Voices that are often ignored must now be heard.

Second: Each community must determine for itself the best way to improve relations and outcomes. For some, this may involve the use of body cameras and the permanent or temporary storage of the images they contain. For others, improved police presence outside of emergency situations would be the most significant step forward. Still others may decide to restrict the pool of candidates for law enforcement to residents of the city or surrounding communities.

Third, groups of police, city administrators, and citizens should be formed to review the effects of new policies and their reception by the public.
These measures will help to restore the mutual trust and sense of community that are essential to a peaceful society. But in the long run, they are not enough. As Dr. King also remarked, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” If we would have a peaceful and prosperous society, we must eradicate all forms of injustice—in our laws, in our economic relations, and in our foreign and domestic policies. Only when our society is firmly rooted in solidarity will the threat of violence truly be diminished.

GAINING INTEREST: A LOOK AT PUBLICLY OWNED BANKS

GAINING INTEREST: A LOOK AT PUBLICLY OWNED BANKS

September 19, 2015

In American political parlance North Dakota would be labeled a “red” state. The Governor’s office and two-thirds of its Congressional delegation are held by Republicans. The composition of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly is about 65% GOP in the House of Representatives (69 of 94 delegates) and nearly three-quarters of the Senate (35 of 47). Yet, curiously, the Peace Garden State has been the only American jurisdiction to have a state-run bank, which even most Democratic Party-led legislatures have never campaigned for. How did this happen?

The strains of agrarian populism and the progressive movement that swept the Plains states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were an attempt to advance democracy and a fairer deal for farmers and workers who were often beholden to far-off corporate and financial elites. Stirring speeches such as the great “Christian Democrat” William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” from 1896, and movements to start cooperative organizations and agricultural combines, were attempts to give ordinary people more say in civic affairs.

In North Dakota, in 1915 a coalition of progressives, reformers, and cooperative backers formed in concert with more radical elements, such as socialists formed the Nonpartisan League (NPL). By the end of the Great War the NPL was able to take the reins of power in the state. The NPL worked to reform, reorganize and expand some state services such as education, health care, and more oversight of corporations. One of the great concerns that populists had throughout the agrarian West in this era was that banking interests – many of whom were capitalized in the East – were not receptive to local concerns and made predatory loans. The NPL funded a bank, the Bank of North Dakota (BND), which would operate more like a credit union, and assist the farmers and common people of the state, so that where the market failed to address issuing credit to such small requestors, they could more likely get access to capital. Although the NPL’s political ascendency ended soon after the BND was created, the pro-business opposition Independent Voters Association was never politically able to eliminate the new bank, since it became, and remains, popular throughout North Dakota.

We’re all very familiar now with the “too big to fail” (TBTF) part of the banking industry in the United States, the practices of which were an important contributor to the Great Recession. What may not be as widely reported is that the share of the financial sector controlled by large banks is increasing. According to the 2011 Annual Report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (Closing the Road to Prosperity: Why We Must End Too Big to Fail Now), the five largest banks in the nation held more than half (52%) of the country’s assets, as compared to 32% held by other large and medium –sized banks. That left only 16% for the remaining 5,700 small institutions.

It has certainly not always been like this for American banks. The Dallas Fed notes that an almost completely inverse situation was true in 1970, when the five largest banks nationally then had only 17% of the capital, small banks instead had nearly half (48%), and the other large and medium banks had the other 37%. That was also at a time when there were 12,500 local or regional banks. [1]

The Dallas Fed’s opinion is similar to many advocates of democracy, whether expressed in terms of the Gilded Age era of agrarian populism, or the Occupy Wall Street movement. Such a small number of institutions should not have such an outsized influence on the national (and global) economy. The Fed notes that “an unfortunate side effect of the government’s massive aid to TBTF banks has been an erosion of faith in American capitalism. Ordinary workers and consumers who might usually thank capitalism for their higher living standards have seen a perverse side of the system, where they see that normal rules of markets don’t apply to the rich, powerful and well-connected.”

We need small banks and credit unions to thrive not only so there will be more choices in banking, but also because the mission of community-based financial institutions has always been intrinsically tied with their towns, regions, or metropolitan areas. Like other kinds of small businesses, local and regional banks’ fortunes are tied to whether citizens support the local economy.

Where does the BND fit into this scenario in North Dakota’s banking scene? BND’s key role is partnering and supplementing small banks in making loans to customers and small businesses. According to the Boston Federal Reserve Bank’s analysis to determine if Massachusetts should develop a similar public bank, one of the most salutary aspects of BND’s role is that small banks not only remain above water in North Dakota, but, like the national scene in 1970 and earlier, small banks hold a significant portion of overall assets, whereas neighboring South Dakota has one dominant bank (Wells Fargo) that controls nearly three-quarters of deposits. This is despite the states having similar economies and demographics. [2]

Ellen Brown of the Public Banking Institute, which has been making the case for more jurisdictions to pursue BND-style banking, points out that “Wall Street banks aren’t as interested in evaluating local businesses or potential mortgagors, whereas community banks want this business, but quite often don’t have the capital to fund it,” says Brown. “North Dakota has the highest number of banks per capita,” she adds, attributing the strength of community banking in the state to the fact that they have a well-capitalized state bank to partner with to fight off competition from well-capitalized Wall Street banks.” [3]

Public banks would give states a steady institution to deposit revenue and make investments on behalf of the public. Although setting up a public bank could involve at least a temporary disruption to the current banking scene, a state could allocate money to seed it from idle funds such as “rainy day” accounts, or budget allocations. North Dakota requires all state assets to be deposited into the BND which provides ongoing capital. If another state places money in private banks which may be headquartered in another state, any profits may be distributed hundreds or thousands of miles away. Operating its own bank means that the state doesn’t accumulate millions of dollars annually in borrowing fees as all other states do. It also means that revenue from taxes is used more efficiently and stays in the state.

BND is primarily interested in arranging loans just as private banks are. As with any kind of bank, when the financial institution issues credit it hopes to profit by the difference in interest and any transaction fees the borrower pays in order to receive the sum it would like. In private banks, shareholders will receive the profits from such transactions, or perhaps the bank will use the proceeds for other investments it pursues. Credit unions would likely share the profits through its members by dividends. In a state bank the public coffers will profit, which can lead to a variety of potential outcomes. The state can use the funds to supplement public services, reduce the effect of a budget crunch in an economic downturn, or return dividends to the taxpayers. BND prevents North Dakota’s government from needing to borrow from big (or any sized!) banks, as it funds projects through its own bank.

Private banks are often driven, certainly the TBTF ones appear to be, by strategies that will ensure ongoing profitability for shareholders and maintaining an attractive stock price. Many private investors, mutual fund holders, as well as the managers of large pension funds are, however, frequently concerned about whether their money is not only earning a return but is being invested in a socially-conscious manner. A state bank’s main mission would be to act as the guardian of public dollars, with an objective to utilize assets in a manner that would be based on a long term view of the common good. Still, BND has been profitable each year since 1971 (as far back as available records go). Its return on average assets has also been consistently better than peer-sized private banks. [4]

BND does not compete with local private banks, but instead helps to keep them sound by helping them arrange loans with the objective of putting financial resources to direct work in that state. Local bankers are increasingly the only source of credit for small businesses and community projects. They are also the ones with knowledge of what has been successful, and with ideas of what kinds of commercial activity can help the area through their loans and investments.

BND also plays a role that is not performed by the Federal Reserve Bank system. The Federal Reserve serves the role that central banks in other nations do – it sets interest rates nationally, regulates the currency supply, determines the U.S. monetary policy, and sells bonds on behalf of the government. But the Fed also works to serve the interests of the private banks which are customers of its services. [5] That means that private banking needs and desires, especially the concerns of TBTF banks, are very important considerations when the Fed sets policy. Those policies may not end up aligning with what is best for the public or smaller banks.

Another key difference between a state bank and private banks is that the administrators of the BND are paid salaries similar to other members of the civil service or state agencies. They would not receive the kinds of bonuses and payments the public is now quite familiar with in private banking. The bonuses large banks were paying executives prior to the Great Recession encouraged the kind of reckless and imprudent transactions that put the economy and financial system at risk.

A public bank would also be subject to the same kind of public records transparency that other state agencies are obligated to operate under. The private banking industry is under far less public scrutiny, as we have come to regret.

If we want to aid local and state economies with a sound, not speculative, financial system that is beholden to public interests and the common good, we should support efforts to create and fund additional state banks on the Bank of North Dakota model.

—Kirk G. Morrison
(Kirk Morrison is a former chair of the National Committee)