State Bank for California: Invest in California, not Wall Street

In 2011, four years after Ellen Brown wrote Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About Our Money System and How We Can Break Free, the Public Banking Institute, with Brown as the chair, was founded to provide support and leadership for the growing movement which she and her book engendered.

Since then, more than 20 states and many counties and cities are considering creating their own banks. Public banks partner with local, independent banks and credit unions, providing good loans to homeowners, small businesses, and students, while folding the interest back into the local economy, not Wall Street. People are asking, “Why throw money away by paying 5% interest to big banks for loans, while receiving less than 1% in interest from big banks for funds deposited?”

North Dakota is a good example. In 1919 the farmers got tired of losing their farms to out-of-state bankers; so, they created the Bank of North Dakota. Today, 93 years later, North Dakota has a budget surplus instead of a budget deficit, and more community banks per capita than any other state.

Here’s how you can get started establishing a public bank in your area. The steps include researching how public banking works, linking with allies, identifying champions, and finding potential sources of capitalization for the bank.

Research can start at You will find a wealth of information, including FAQs and articles on public banking, a newsletter sign-up, and examples from around the world.

Allies are an important early requirement. Creating and implementing plans together provide great motivation to learn as much as possible in preparation for upcoming meetings and presentations.

Champions will come from many areas: community bankers, elected officials, candidates, and social activists from many related movements. In the process of finding allies, you will discover who is aligned with the big banks. (See related “No Corporate Money” article on reverse.)

Capitalization sources for initial bank reserves are varied and may come from a pool of public funds available for a particular purpose (see example at Use the Internet or public officials to discover funds on the balance sheets of your local jurisdictions that are going unused. Research the idea of using eminent domain in this era of foreclosures.

Keep abreast of the information and opportunities provided by the Public Banking Institute. It is inspiring to be involved with people across the country who, even when they are faced with setbacks and obstacles, are moving ahead on this solution that is both positive and possible.

North Dakota has a publicly owned bank. What city, county, or state will be next?

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