Saturday, September 22, 2012

Arianna Huffington's Third World America 7

In my latest reading of Third World America: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream, Arianna Huffington discusses ways that the government can create or facilitate the creation of jobs: establishing jobs to refurbish parks (among other things), tax credits for small businesses, attracting foreign talent to the United States, setting up banks to encourage green energy, etc.

What I particularly liked in my latest reading, however, was Arianna's discussion of what private individuals can do to prevent the U.S. from becoming Third World America.  For one, she says that people should put their money in their local community banks or credit unions rather than big banks.  She refers to a movement that she and others launched (Move Your Money) that did precisely that.  One way to stand against banks that are too big to fail is, well, to put you money in smaller banks!  Moreover, Arianna states that many credit unions do not aim to "maximize short-term profits" for the reason that they are not owned by shareholders, and so they tend to avoid "risky subprime loans", "offer lower fees and higher interest rates on savings", and hold home mortgages themselves rather than slicing them up for Wall Street (pages 203-204).

Second, Arianna mentions HelloWallet.com, a company that gives affordable financial advice.  It helps people to save and steers them toward mortgages and credit cards with good rates----so that you're not signing a mortgage or agreeing to a credit card that looks good at first, before the rates are significantly jacked up!  As Arianna notes, because HelloWallet is independent of banks, users of its services are getting "unbiased guidance", with the result that banks can be held accountable as people make informed decisions.

I am more of a liberal nowadays, but one reason that I became a conservative years ago is that I preferred private ways to deal with problems over big government.  Now, I'm not for the government sitting back and letting nature run its course, but I still think it's cool when the private sector works to make things better.  In my opinion, making things better should be something that all of us try to do----in the public and also the private sectors.

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