Civilizing the Economy A New Economics of Provision

A Dialogue between a Citizen and a Bank: For the People Occupying Wall Street

Posted Oct 3, 2011 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, 1 Comment

Citizen:  So, tell me, why should we allow you to exist in our city?

Bank:  What an odd question.  You need money and I have it?

Citizen: Why do you have the money?

Bank:  Don’t you know the story?  People brought their money to the bank for             safekeeping, and I am using their money as thought it were mine.  After all,  more than likely, they will not ask for their money back, at least not all at the  same time.  This allows me to provide loans to citizens, even like you, so they  can buy the things they want.

Citizen:  So you get the money from the people?

Bank:  Well, some of it.  We also get money by creating it.

Citizen:  How does that work?

Bank:  Here is an example:  the federal government needs more money to pay its bills—for wars and things—so it asks us for money.   The increased government debt becomes an asset for us (they owe us money plus interest), and this asset allows us to loan more money to you and other citizens—at a reasonable interest rate of course.

Citizen:  I don’t understand.  Why should the government pay interest for money             that it asks you to create to pay its bills?  Why not take the money without             interest?

Bank:  If the government did not pay us interest, we would not loan them the             money?

Citizen:  Really, so who is in control her: banks or the government?  In a democracy,     the people should control the money, not the banks.

Banks:  Well, if you really believe in a government by and for the people then you             would be correct, but this kind of democracy has never been tried and would  most likely end in chaos.   The people, after all, are not really trustworthy.

Citizen:  I see.  It seems you belong to a long tradition that believes we should give            priority to property ownership over civic membership and that the elite should rule rather than the people.

Bank:  Of course, if you do not own anything, what do you have at stake in the             economy?  You would be a free rider—a parasite.

Citizen:  OK, I see your perspective.  What if we took another perspective: the             perspective of those who are not owners of wealth?  What would they say about the role of banks in their communities?

Bank:  If they do not have any money to save or a good credit rating, I don’t see how         we could serve them.

Citizen:  The question is not what you can do, but what needs to be done.  In a real            democracy, you should serve all citizens or you would not exist.

One Response to “A Dialogue between a Citizen and a Bank: For the People Occupying Wall Street”

  1. Rumah Dijual says:

    February 14, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    I absolutely love reading this article, the manner of writing is outstanding.This post as usual was instructive, I have had to bookmark your website and subscribe to this feed in googlereader. this site looks impressive.

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Marvin T. Brown, Ph.D teaches business and organizational ethics at the University of San Francisco and Saybrook University in San Francisco.

This book is the culmination of 30 years of teaching and writing on business and society from a communicative perspective. Visit for more information.

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