The Agenda

Occupy Entrepreneurship

Several activists associated with the Occupy movement have formed the Occupy Money Cooperative, which aims to offer an array of low-cost financial products, the first of which will be a prepaid bank card. Alissa Quart, writing in The Nation, describes the group’s goals:

The group started meeting soon after the Occupy movement emerged in September 2011, with its first meeting in October. The members of the cooperative wondered: What if they could flip the banking relationship so that clients (in their diction “users”) owned the bank, rather than the other way around? The fall of 2011 was a dark time for the millions of Americans struggling financially, as well as a moment of dawning consciousness about the realities of today’s banking system, which can seem rigged. After all, banks make big bets and ordinary citizens bail them out; clients play by the rules and then banks stick them with a seemingly endless array of hidden fees, many of which fall heaviest on the poorest Americans. As The New York Times reported recently, even mistakes as small as a bounced check or a tiny overdraft “have effectively blacklisted more than a million low-income Americans from the mainstream financial system” due to obscure private databases that are used by major banks.

As a result, millions of Americans are actively excluded from today’s banking system—a problem in a working democracy where citizens should be able to spend or access their own funds cheaply, safely and easily. In 2011, one in twelve American households was “unbanked”—that is, they did not have a bank account, according to a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation survey. Twenty percent of households were “underbanked,” meaning that while they had a bank account, they also relied on pawnshops, payday loans and other means of off-label banking.

And so the Occupy activists are taking advantage of one of the central virtues of a free enterprise economy, which is that groups or individuals are largely free to put innovative business models into practice. The chief barrier to the Occupy Money Cooperative is the high cost of overcoming the regulatory barriers that all small financial institutions face. 


Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

Most Popular


The Book Comey Wanted to Write

Making the click-through worthwhile: the book James Comey had wanted to write, Facebook starts to feel useless to some writers, an infamous D.C. city councilman manages to make everything worse, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign finds its wish granted. What Did James Comey’s First Draft of A Higher ... Read More
Film & TV

Pro-Life Feminist

My paisana at the Human Life Review are hosting an event in NYC on Thursday, May 3, at the Sheen Center (18 Bleeker Street) for the airing of director Jim Hanon’s half-hour documentary, Pro-Life Feminist. After the viewing, he’ll join the trio of castmates -- Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, Aimee Murphy, and ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Good News for Pompeo

Looks like he's in, as he should be. But this fight has been a hint of what life will be like for Trump if the Democrats somehow take the Senate -- they'd refuse to confirm anyone for anything. Read More

What Self-Help Guru Tony Robbins Was Trying to Say

Tony Robbins must have known immediately that he'd made a huge mistake in how he responded to a question about #MeToo. Last month, at one of Robbins's popular, sold-out seminars, audience member Nanine McCool told the self-help guru that she thought he misunderstood the #MeToo movement. You can see the entire ... Read More