Why we need postal banking

Introducing the Political Eh-conomy Radio podcast, a new podcast on economic issues in Canada and beyond. The inaugural episode tackles postal banking: why cut valuable services and jobs at Canada Post when it is instead possible to create financial services run by the post office, at the same ensuring the Post’s future sustainability? Canada Post put it best in its secret report: postal banking is a “win-win” – unless of course your aim is to dismantle public services and set the stage for privatization.

Interviews include John Anderson, author of the CCPA report, Why Canada Needs Postal Banking, George Floresco, Vice-President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and David Bush, who is among those spearheading community organizing to stop the cuts at Canada Post.

For those who don’t have time to listen, here is a short excerpt with my concluding thoughts on the role of postal banking in breaching a conversation about socializing finance:

The push to institute postal banking can be part of a broader campaign that focuses on the importance and value of public services. Postal banking can not only sustain and expand the vital public service that is the post office, it is also a thread in a wider conversation about the role of finance in the economy. If banking can be run as a public service by the post office, why not place even more of the financial sector under public, democratic control?

As a society we have decided to make a large number of resources public. In some ways of course the dollars flowing through the economy are very different from the power flowing through our electricity grids or the medicines flowing through IV tubes. And yes there are a host of technical issues that would have to ironed out in order to make finance public. These, however, are not the stumbling blocks. There is a political argument to be made that finance is a resource, like healthcare or education, that is too valuable to be left to the market.

The financial crisis that began in 2008 and whose damaging effects we continue to see worldwide has reminded us about the crucial and potentially destructive role of finance in the modern economy. Rather than using it to inflate bubbles, extend unaffordability in housing and transfer wealth to the already rich, imagine if we used finance to fund socially-useful projects. Desperately-needed infrastructure, such as housing, transit and clean energy sounds like a far better funding goal than ploughing more money into overstuffed corporate cash accounts or the alphabet soup of modern financial instruments.

Credit is a resource. The question is how and on what grounds we distribute this key resource so necessary for the economy to function. Postal banking has the potential to open the way to this and a host of other crucial questions.

Finally, here is a comprehensive list of links to materials discussed in the podcast:

  1. John Anderson’s report for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Why Canada Needs Postal Banking
  2. United States Postal Service report on postal banking, Providing Non-Bank Financial Services for the Underserved
  3. Canadian Union of Postal Workers and their micro-site on postal banking
  4. Blacklock’s expose on the secret Canada Post report and an article on this by Ethan Cox in the National Post
  5. Support Postal Workers

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I hope to make this a regular bi-weekly podcast, mostly focusing on a single issue per episode, though this format is liable to change. Episodes will also be airing locally on Vancouver’s Co-op Radio as part of W2 Media Mornings. Media Mornings is broadcast every day of the week between 7 and 8am and Political Eh-conomy Radio will make appearances on the Friday show.

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