Original Proposal

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Original Proposal

Post by johnkarls »

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
From: ReadingLiberally-SaltLake@johnkarls.com
To: ReadingLiberallyEmailList@johnkarls.com
Bcc: The Approximately 150 Recipients of Our Weekly E-mail
Subject: How The Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and The Threat To Democracy – July 13
Date: Sat, June 18, 2016
Time: 4:23 am MDT – 5:26 am MDT (due to 100/hour limit)

Dear Friends,

Our next meeting is Wednesday evening July 13 at the Salt Lake Public Library (210 East 400 South).

NB: For those who like to avoid having to Skype during vacations, our future meeting dates are:

Wed Aug 10
Wed Sep 14
Wed Oct 19 (Oct 12 is Yom Kippur)
Wed Nov 16 (to maintain our minimum 4-week gap)
Wed Dec 14


Originally proposed by Ted Gurney, long-time regular attendee and retired U/U Biology Professor -- How The Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy (Harvard University Press 10/6/2015 - $22.98 + shipping or $17.49 Kindle from Amazon.com – 336 pages).

The United States has two separate banking systems today―one serving the well-to-do and another exploiting everyone else. How the Other Half Banks contributes to the growing conversation on American inequality by highlighting one of its prime causes: unequal credit. Mehrsa Baradaran examines how a significant portion of the population, deserted by banks, is forced to wander through a Wild West of payday lenders and check-cashing services to cover emergency expenses and pay for necessities―all thanks to deregulation that began in the 1970s and continues decades later.

In an age of corporate megabanks with trillions of dollars in assets, it is easy to forget that America’s banking system was originally created as a public service. Banks have always relied on credit from the federal government, provided on favorable terms so that they could issue low-interest loans. But as banks grew in size and political influence, they shed their social contract with the American people, demanding to be treated as a private industry free from any public-serving responsibility. They abandoned less profitable, low-income customers in favor of wealthier clients and high-yield investments. Fringe lenders stepped in to fill the void. This two-tier banking system has become even more unequal since the 2008 financial crisis.

Baradaran proposes a solution: reenlisting the U.S. Post Office in its historic function of providing bank services. The post office played an important but largely forgotten role in the creation of American democracy, and it could be deployed again to level the field of financial opportunity.


Mehrsa Baradaran joined the University of Georgia Law faculty in the fall of 2012. She currently serves as a J. Alton Hosch Associate Professor teaching Contracts and Banking Law.

She came to UGA from Brigham Young University, where she taught banking regulation, property and administrative law. During her time there, she was named the 1L (first-year law courses) Professor of the Year by the Student Bar Association.

Her scholarship includes the book How the Other Half Banks with the Harvard University Press and "Regulation by Hypothetical" in the Vanderbilt Law Review, "It's Time for Postal Banking" in the Harvard Law Review Forum, "Banking and the Social Contract" in the Notre Dame Law Review, "How the Poor Got Cut Out of Banking" in the Emory Law Journal, "Reconsidering the Separation of Banking and Commerce" in the George Washington Law Review and "The ILC and the Reconstruction of U.S. Banking" in the SMU Law Review.

Baradaran's book How the Other Half Banks has received significant media coverage and has been featured in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Slate, American Banker, and other national and international news and radio outlets.

Previously, Baradaran was an Academic Research Fellow at the New York University School of Law and practiced law in the financial institutions group in the NYC office of Davis, Polk & Wardwell, one of the largest worldwide law firms.

She earned her bachelor's degree cum laude from Brigham Young University and her law degree cum laude from NYU, where she served as a member of the New York University Law Review.


An important voice..... [Baradaran’s] excellent new book, How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation and the Threat to Democracy describes how, for decades, big banks have shed their social contract with the American public and transformed themselves into modern monstrosities which serve corporations and the wealthy and exploit or avoid the less affluent members of our society. Setting the stage with this historical context, Baradaran makes a compelling case for a postal banking system which would greatly benefit millions of struggling ‘unbanked’ Americans.
- Ralph Nader - Huffington Post 2015-11-13

The title of [Baradaran’s] lean, angry book echoes the photojournalism of Jacob Riis, whose 1890 work on the slums of New York, How the Other Half Lives, spurred a housing reform movement..... In a society built on credit as a means to wealth, low-income families deserve a much better deal, Baradaran argues. People do not opt for expensive products because they do not know any better, or are somehow reckless or irresponsible. They do so because they have no choice. And that is a national embarrassment.
- Ben McLannahan - Financial Times 2015-11-13

Baradaran argues persuasively that the banking industry, fattened on public subsidies (including too-big-to-fail bailouts), owes low-income families a better deal..... How the Other Half Banks is well researched and clearly written… The bankers who fully understand the system are heavily invested in it. Books like this are written for the rest of us.
- Nancy Folbre - New York Times Book Review 2015-10-06

Mehrsa Baradaran’s terrific book, How the Other Half Banks, argues that we could and should ask banks to serve the poor and working class once again. In particular, post office banks (with storefronts and websites both) could provide those missing banking services: a place to park cash, earn interest and take out small amount loans… The idea is not hers originally, but she seizes and expands on the idea brilliantly and at great length. In particular, she advances the case for postal banking by reviewing the country’s earlier experience with postal banks, and by linking that experience to the modern problem of missing services for the poor and working class… One can appreciate why the policy world has come to Baradaran for her expertise, and this book will constitute a central contribution to the debate… I will recommend this book to all who are interested in structural racism..... Baradaran demonstrates how the post-deregulation restructuring of banking has disproportionately impacted communities of color, and how postal banking and other public options might bring them back into the fold once more. Baradaran’s revival of postal banking, and her description of the disappearance of services in the wake of deregulation, is fresh and engaging, and I highly recommend [the] book for all who are interested in the structure of inequality.
- Daria Roithmayr - JOTWELL 2015-10-02

Steadily shedding low-profit clients, American banks flourished during three decades of deregulation, but, when the crunch came last decade, the U.S. government―spouting we-are-all-in-this-together rhetoric―rushed to their rescue. In good times, banks are free-market players. In bad times, they have all the comforts of state agents. The author’s emphasis is not on curtailing megabanks’ privileges -- a reader could get the impression she thinks that case too obvious for lengthy exposition -- but on providing secure, low-cost credit for those who need it most. Her back-to-the-future solution is postal banking. Although the idea sounds terribly old-fashioned -- it hasn’t been seen in the U.S. since the 1960s -- more than 50 nations, including Japan and Germany, maintain a vibrant postal-bank system, a pillar of their strong savings cultures.
- Brian Bethune - Maclean’s 2015-10-26

Baradaran charges that nearly half of the American population has been deprived of access to financial services at a fair price thanks to financial deregulation..... A comprehensive addition to the ongoing discussions of both inequality and the financial system.
- Kirkus Reviews 2015-08-01

Important and comprehensive…How the Other Half Banks is a fascinating read, and Baradaran has done a masterful job of turning what could be incredibly dry material into a well-paced, accessible chronicle of how the consumer financial services industry has changed since the beginning of the republic. She traces the history of the relationship between the banking industry and the nation, and shows how banks have gained more power, leaving the less well-off excluded and exploited..... How the Other Half Banks tells an important story, one in which we have allowed the profit motives of banks to trump the public interest. Baradaran is right to take a pragmatic approach to these issues, as it seems unlikely that there is sufficient political will to renegotiate the social contract between banks and government so that it once again favors the public.
- Lisa J. Servon - American Prospect 2016-02-03


In accordance with our quorum-policy revision of 6/12/2013, instead of waiting until the last week before each monthly meeting to request RSVP's and canceling if we do not have our minimum quorum of six, RSVP's are requested in our first-of-the-monthly-cycle weekly e-mail.

Those who have RSVP’d will be informed immediately when we reach six so they can proceed to read the materials with assurance a discussion will take place.

If there are not six RSVP's by 11:59 pm next Friday, then next week's weekly e-mail will announce that the 7/13/2016 meeting is cancelled.


Non-Utah-residents (and residents who are out of town) are invited to participate in our meeting via Skype.

If you would like to do so, please press your reply button and type “request participation via Skype” and we will contact you to make appropriate arrangements.


We hope to see all of you on July 13th.

Your friend,

John K.

PS -- To un-subscribe, please press "reply" and type "deletion requested."

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