Put your money where your values are – without spending it

Here the latest idea on dealing with one of the most intractable remaining problems of the recession – unemployment. One of the problems with getting people back to work is that the banks aren’t lending to businesses, especially small businesses. Small businesses are really where it’s at in this increasingly decentralized, flexible, entrepreneurial economy. There are lots of people out there with ideas – but a lot of them require start-up money. Lending to businesses basically dried up when the larger credit market evaporated, and this was one of the things that the TARP stimulus money was designed to do – free up credit. However, the big banks had other ideas, and they still haven’t loosened the purse-strings.

All this makes it hard for your average small business, who is already getting hit hard by less business, rising fuel and raw materials costs, and health care costs. Most of them need loans as a matter of course, to expand, buy materials in advance of a job, or whatever. They just can’t get loans right now, which means a lot of good ideas, and hiring opportunities, go unfunded.

Now you may ask, what does this have to do with you? You’re not a bank, or a small business, so what can you do? Lots, it turns out. Remember, this is OUR money they’re choosing to lend or not lend. And banks have different ideas of how to go about being a bank. Local community banks and savings & loans are a lot more likely to lend to community businesses and also be involved in charitable activities, both of which are important. The big national and transnational banks seem to be mostly engaged in figuring out how to charge us more fees to make back what they lost due to their own financial recklessness, and now they’re lobbying for even more deregulation. There’s a difference, and which type of bank you choose to put your money in matters.

Send a message to the big banks – take your money and put it in a fiscally sound local bank where it can do some good in the community, get businesses going and get people back to work. You can read a lot more about this idea here, in a movement called Move Your Money: A New Year’s Resolution. And if you’re in the Christmas spirit, you can watch a fun video based on It’s a Wonderful Life, which is strangely apropos. There’s even a little box where you can type in your zip code and get a list of the highly fiscally sound local banks and savings & loans in your area, taking the guess-work out of choosing one.

Wouldn’t it be great if collectively we can send a real message to BofA, Citibank, etc., in the only language they really understand?


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