A person I respect — wise, patient and politically savvy — asked me credit unions today. It seems the excesses of the large, national banks, epitomized by their recent collective fee increases, led him to consider a credit union in place of the large national bank that he uses.
I mention this, not to suggest that everyone would join a credit union or that he is cheap or petulant, but to consider how we choose to give over power, in this case financial and social power. These banks are “too big to fail” both in their political power and their hold — as impressive, important institutions — in our own consciences. And so it’s easy for them (at least easier than what you and I) to extract government support, defense from industry and — at the end — profits from customers. But if you remember that there are alternatives to the banks — or Facebook, or particular retailers or even churches — even if the best alternative is “none of the above.” And once you realize you can live without something, you’re in a better position to choose how your money, effort and influence works to what you believe in. A simple thought, but worth repeating. And one of the reasons I buy American-made clothing and don’t eat animals.
For the record, if you live, work, study or worship in the District of Columbia — one of their membership classification — I can recommend Signal Financial Federal Credit Union. And here’s my last blog post on local credit unions, at the beginning (2008) of the current economic crisis. Read it for the comments.