Published: Sunday 9 December 2012
Scottish independence is now on the table.

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and the Bank of Scotland have been pillars of Scotland’s economy and culture for over three centuries.  So when the RBS was nationalized by the London-based UK government following the 2008 banking crisis, and the Bank of Scotland was acquired by the London-based Lloyds Bank, it came as a shock to the Scots.  They no longer owned their oldest and most venerable banks.

Another surprise turn of events was the triumph of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in the 2011 Scottish parliamentary election.  Scotland is still part of the United Kingdom, but it has had its own parliament since 1999, similar to U.S. states.  The SNP has rallied around the call for independence from the UK since its founding in 1934, but it was a minority party until the 2011 victory, which gave it an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament. 

Scottish independence is now on the table.  A bill has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament with the intention of holding a referendum on the issue in 2014.  

Arguments in favor of independence include that it will allow the Scottish people to make decisions for Scotland themselves, on such contentious issues as having nuclear weapons in their seas and being part of NATO.  They can also directly access the profits from the North Sea oil off Scotland’s coast.   

Arguments against independence include that Scotland's levels of public spending (which are higher than in the rest of the UK) would be difficult to sustain without raising taxes.  North Sea oil revenues will eventually decline. 

One way budgetary problems might be relieved would be for Scotland to have its own publicly-owned bank, one that served the interests of the Scottish people.  True economic sovereignty means having control over the national currency, credit and ...

Published: Thursday 24 May 2012
We can’t do much to stop the massive too-big-to-fail banks, they’ve got the power, especially at the federal level. But we can quietly set up an alternative model, and that’s what is happening on various local fronts.

 

According to both the Mayan and Hindu calendars, 2012 (or something very close) marks the transition from an age of darkness, violence and greed to one of enlightenment, justice, and peace.  It’s hard to see that change just yet in the events relayed in the major media, but a shift does seem to be happening behind the scenes; and this is particularly true in the once-boring world of banking.

In the dark age of Kali Yuga, money rules; and it is through banks that the moneyed interests have gotten their power.  Banking in an age of greed is fraught with usury, fraud, and gaming the system for private ends.  But there is another way to do banking, the neighborly approach of George Bailey in the classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  Rather than feeding off the community, banking can feed the community and local economy.

Today the massive too-big-to-fail banks are hardly doing George Bailey-style loans at all.  They are not interested in community lending.  They are doing their own proprietary trading—trading for their own accounts—which generally means speculating against local interests.  They engage in high-frequency program trading that creams profits off the top of stock market ...

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