It's time to make Postal Banking a reality!

Millions of Americans are being ripped off by payday lenders and check cashing stores, and the United States Postal Service could put a stop to it. Mark Dimondstein, the president of the American Postal Workers Union, says that offering basic banking services at post offices is a win-win for the public and postal workers.

According to a recent article at In These Times, about one out of four U.S. households either have no checking account, or have to rely heavily on non-bank services like check-cashing stores. Because they are priced out of regular banking services, or they're living in so-called “banking deserts”, these households pay thousands of dollars every year in exorbitant fees and interest.

In fact, individuals without regular banking pay out more money in fees and service charges than our federal government spends on all our domestic food aid. With 30,000 offices and outlets, the Postal Service already has the perfect infrastructure to provide public banking, and expanding services would help protect postal workers' jobs.

Since 2006, when the poison pill legislation forced USPS to pre-fund 75 years of retirement benefits, the postal workforce shrunk by about 200,000 workers. And, since that time, credit problems, poverty, and location have locked millions of Americans out of our regular banking system.

A U.S. Postal Bank could solve both of these problems in one fell swoop, and provide us an alternative to too-big-to-fail corporate banks. The APWU is calling on the postmaster general to take up this idea, and it's backed by dozens of other unions and community groups. Even prominent lawmakers like Senator Elizabeth Warren support the idea of Postal Banking.

This isn't a pipe dream or a fantasy. Postal banking has worked well in other nations, and it's time to make it a reality right here at home.

Comments

mathboy's picture
mathboy 7 years 32 weeks ago
#1

Oops, the first paragraph says "port offices" where I think it was supposed to say "post offices". (I was actually wondering what a port office was for a second.)

mathboy's picture
mathboy 7 years 32 weeks ago
#2

Barack Obama was bold enough to run for President under his real name, as much as Republicans like to make fun of him for once going by "Barry".

We should make JEBush (as I call him) go by his real name--John Ellis Bush--if he officially runs. "Jeb Bush" is as redundant as "SAT test", "PIN number", "HIV virus" and "ATM machine".

mathboy's picture
mathboy 7 years 32 weeks ago
#3

I just read that Bill Cosby was on Nixon's enemy list.

SueN's picture
SueN 7 years 32 weeks ago
#4

Thanks, mathboy

sandlewould's picture
sandlewould 7 years 32 weeks ago
#5

As per a caller on the show re. Barbara Honegar's lecture... Excellent, detailed and thorough; https://m.youtube.n/watch?v=4fvJ8nFa5Qk . Well worth the time on a cold, snowy weekend.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 32 weeks ago
#6

It ain't gonna happen brecause there can be no democracy ((government that srerves the people, the many not the privileged few) in the United States.

leoanduna's picture
leoanduna 7 years 32 weeks ago
#7

A great idea, but the Republicans will never allow such a thing to happen for all the usual reasons.

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 7 years 32 weeks ago
#8

This country was stupid enough to put TWO Bush's, and a Reagan, in the White House, so Postal banking will never happen; it's too good of an idea.

And if this country is stupid enough to put a third Bush in the White House...well, need I say more.

Scarabus's picture
Scarabus 7 years 32 weeks ago
#9

"In fact, individuals without regular banking pay out more money in fees and service charges than our federal government spends on all our domestic food aid."

That would make a really effective talking point. Can you provide some documentation?

data-boy's picture
data-boy 7 years 32 weeks ago
#10

I believe that the business of the Federal Government is not to be business ...

Unless they are doing critical needs for an unserviced population.

Yes, access to banking is critical.

Do you have any data that would indicate that any group doesn't have access to banking? Inner cities? Rural areas?

Just thinking.

PFNELKAK 7 years 32 weeks ago
#11

sandlewould---
have wanted to thank you for info. on vaccines on feb. 6. Always been against vaccines. A healthy lifestyle gives the bodies immune system a fighting chance.

Sallie Planty 7 years 32 weeks ago
#12

What are the logistics? Where I am currently living/extended visiting, there are more than 12 banks, and all but one is open from 9 am to 3 pm Monday thru Friday only (with all the requisite national holidays closed) and the post office isn't that much better when it comes to available hours.

This stymies a lot of people who aren't all that savvy about account debit cards. They need cash and the banks are closed, so rather than opening an account and being issued a debit card that they can swipe for cash at their bank's ATM (or, for a slight fee at an unaffiliated ATM, 24/7) they follow the path of least resistance - Check-cashing stores with extended hours, or the customer-service desks of local supermarkets.

In order to serve this segment, these postal check-cashing facilities would need to extend hours to attract the type of people I've descrbed. Could this be in your plans? If not, don't bother to try to promote it. It's all about immediacy with the pay-check-to-paycheck citizen.

.

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Edward J. Dodson's picture
Edward J. Dodson 7 years 32 weeks ago
#13

Some years ago at Fannie Mae, our marketing group organized a series of focus groups consisting of different minorities to learn the reasons why so many of them chose to do business with pay day lenders. Many of the people had perfectly fine credit and good employment and income histories. Many felt intimidated by banks, the huge formal infrastructure and what they felt was an immediate negative attitude conveyed by loan officers and other bank employees. Moreover, they expressed concern over the amount of information banks required from them. Disclosing this level of personal information left them feeling vulnerable.

For a decade or so I served on a committee with bank executives, community and non-profit leaders and others focused on economic development challenges in distressed neighborhoods. The lack of bank branches in these neighborhoods was acknowledged as a serious problem, only partially being addressed by the Community Reinvestment Act. What one of the city's largest commercial banks put into place was a unique strategy to attract customers in these neighborhoods: the mini-bank. These branches were placed in retail spaces, offering basic banking services similar to the pay-day lenders and check cashing services, but at much lower costs. In just a few years, the bank's business volume from these retail branches multiplied, and the residents of the neighborhoods increasingly came to think of the bank and its local employees as people they could come to and trust that there needs would be met or at least seriously considered.

One of the great needs in communities where household incomes are lower is for financial education. Efforts by the FDIC, the Federal Reserve Banks and local organizations have never been sufficiently funded to reach a majority of the households in need of such information. The result is that they are too frequently victimized by aggressive and targeted advertising and telemarketing. These were (and still are) the tactics employed by the finance companies and second mortgage lenders who lure people into predatory lending contracts.

In short, among all of the other steps that need to be taken to make our financial system actually serve the needs of people, at the top of the list if a serious commitment to financial literacy. The best way to achieve this is to begin in the schools. Teaching financial literacy and economics should begin in grade seven and continue throughout high school. Then, at least, our younger members would come into young adulthood armed with the knowledge needed to survive financially.

Shawno Buzzello's picture
Shawno Buzzello 7 years 32 weeks ago
#14

Thom is seems quite sharp on most topics, like this one here. But on todays radio show he lost me on the 9-11 twin towers collapse, caller discussion.

He tried to supersede all of the architects and engineers scientific facts with his own adament theory while displaying a right-wing style hubris that's highly out of whack with scientists and engineers who study this kind of stuff for a living.

I'll be checking back in on a later date. Hopefully by then he'll have gathered some realistic wisdom from outside of his own swollen brain.

RFord's picture
RFord 7 years 32 weeks ago
#15

Tom, makes a good argument. Many people in my area, (the Memphis area) cash their checks at the liquor stores, for a fee or for free if you buy a bottle, because they don't have bank accounts. There are many of the fast cash pay day loan places they go to also. Even if they go to their boss's bank, they have a hard time cashing their paycheck because they don't have an account there or have insufficient ID. I believe the post office could help millions of people cash their checks but for a small fee because the fee is needed to pay for the service. I don't believe the post office should loan money though. I do believe there is a big problem with credit in this county. It started with the company store then credit cards and now lenders offer consolidation loans to make even more money from people who are drowning in debt. The payday loan places are preditory lenders who prey on poor and desperate people with interest rates similar to the interest rates of the mafia. They also cash checks for a percentage of the checks. The post office could take some of the bite away from these loan sharks.

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 7 years 32 weeks ago
#16

To save the post office, you must first rally public support. Like the public protest that forced the FCC to have a change of heart on net neutrality, public pressure must be focused on saving this great institution, too.

The biggest problem the post office faces is it's own success. It stands for all the things that wealth interest in the US hates - Socialism, Unionism, Public benefit and especially Democracy...

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 32 weeks ago
#17

Payday loan or check cashing companies are border line criminal. Here in Canada they where charging fees in excess of 60%, with all the hidden fees. Most provinces have put a limit on interest amounts anywhere from 17 to 23 percent. They prayed on people with social problems. It was long over due.

When I go to US but all I see is banks everywhere. With internet banking most people never step into a bank here. Is Thom saying that post offices are more accessible then banks down there. That's had to believe.

Canada's post office is doing really well. It started its own courier service and put small private post office branches everywhere from 7-11s to Safeway. They also put in super boxes in all new neighbourhoods instead of door to door. We have never had Saturday delivery, who can't wait until Monday?

RLTOWNSLEY's picture
RLTOWNSLEY 7 years 32 weeks ago
#18

A replay of the 1950s - 60s when most cashed their checks at the grocery store, not many credit cards and no debit cards in those years . Many stores charged a small fee for this service to cover their costs but they didn't want to hit the average person too hard because they were hoping that they would take the money and buy their weekly groceries while in the store. Utility pay stations and Money Orders were also available and those services still exist today in many stores. When average workers can't even afford the banking fees to maintain a checking account much less the $40 + to order a small quantity of personal checks, the red flags should be flying !

Willie W's picture
Willie W 7 years 32 weeks ago
#19

Walmart's getting into banking. Everyone seems able to get to a Walmart.

upperrnaz12348's picture
upperrnaz12348 7 years 32 weeks ago
#20

Heck, In Israel, and likely in other countries the post office offers banking service, but don't quote me about the other nations. You not only can have bank account, but pay your utility bills, transfer your title when you sell your car, buy a debit card, a SIM card, and if you need a cell-phone, you can get one for a decent price at low monthly payments. You can make a loan from the postal bank through their connections with one commercial banks.

Yeah, they offer a web site where you don't even have to go to the post office, go to the website, follow the directions, and bingo, it's paid in full.

Funny, too the government privatized it, and the new owners figured they had to make money or else they'd go broke. They did and they make money. You can even buy foreign currency without a commission, and debit cards in foreign currency, too. Did I forget envelopes and packaging materials, faxes, send applications for passports (local)

It's a full service post office. Right, business can send mass mailings, and they will assist them in the effort, saving them the cost of hiring out people to distribute it. So it's junk mail, but it's a way of the post office to make money.

I think the trouble in the States is that anything that has the tag of government is treated by the neo-Cons as the enemy, and in the meantime whatever infrastructure is left is falling apart so even the neo-Cons are hurtin'. It must be they have so much money, they have to "find new and more interesting ways" of spending it.

upperrnaz12348's picture
upperrnaz12348 7 years 32 weeks ago
#21

Heck, In Israel, and likely in other countries the post office offers banking service, but don't quote me about the other nations. You not only can have bank account, but pay your utility bills, transfer your title when you sell your car, buy a debit card, a SIM card, and if you need a cell-phone, you can get one for a decent price at low monthly payments. You can make a loan from the postal bank through their connections with one commercial banks.

Yeah, they offer a web site where you don't even have to go to the post office, go to the website, follow the directions, and bingo, it's paid in full.

Funny, too the government privatized it, and the new owners figured they had to make money or else they'd go broke. They did and they make money. You can even buy foreign currency without a commission, and debit cards in foreign currency, too. Did I forget envelopes and packaging materials, faxes, send applications for passports (local)

It's a full service post office. Right, business can send mass mailings, and they will assist them in the effort, saving them the cost of hiring out people to distribute it. So it's junk mail, but it's a way of the post office to make money.

I think the trouble in the States is that anything that has the tag of government is treated by the neo-Cons as the enemy, and in the meantime whatever infrastructure is left is falling apart so even the neo-Cons are hurtin'. It must be they have so much money, they have to "find new and more interesting ways" of spending it.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 32 weeks ago
#22

data-boy, government will always do it better than private business. It'll take the profit motive out and it'll be pure public service. The Post Office is already a great example of that. The way it is now they (banks) are just looking for suckers and weak victims.

sandlewould's picture
sandlewould 7 years 32 weeks ago
#23

PFNELKAK ... you are very welcome!

Dr. Gary Null PhD, Clinical Nutrition, has 2 shows on PRN.FM that are awesome; The Gary Null Show & Progressive Commentary hour. If you go to PRN.FM you can click on the 'shows' link and download the podcasts for free... HOURS of scientific data proving the dangers and lack of efficacy of vaccines... cover-ups at CDC, distorted, buried history of the truth re. Polio virus being found in people all over the world who were asymptomatic and children in the US coming down w/ "Polio" in parts of the country where fruit crops were heavily sprayed w/ arsenic and lead who were not tested for the virus, how the "epidemic" was ending before the vaccine was introduced after the use of these pesticides was curtailed, how it was referred to at the time as an American disease that did not flourish elsewhere in the world...fascinating stuff. etc. Every Doc, public health scientist, etc. needs to know this stuff!!! Last week, he did a 2 part series on this stuff, and "someone" (big pharma?) hacked and deleted his entire website.

sandlewould's picture
sandlewould 7 years 32 weeks ago
#24

Shawno Buzzello

Agreed. Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth does an incredibly good job of proving that the Towers could not collapse symmetrically at free fall without all key supports being taken out systematically from the bottom up. They also document the presence of molten steel and what it would take to keep it molten for days, and at uncovering drastic amounts of evidence of a military grade explosive known as Thermite having been present in samples. That being said, they do not speculate on who was responsible...but one asking questions and using critical thought should not a conspiracy "nut-case" make!

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