Ralph Nader explains how credit unions have weathered the economic armageddon. "They are well-capitalized because of regulation and because they do not have an incentive to go for high-risk, highly leveraged speculation to increase stock values and the value of the bosses' stock options as do the commercial banks," Mr. Nader says. "Credit Unions have no shareholders nor stock nor stock options; they are responsible to their owner-members who are their customers." Further, as a Credit Union National Association economist explains, credit unions, are "portfolio lenders. That means they hold in their portfolios most of the loans they originate instead of selling them to investors, so they care about the financial performance of those loans." All of that must sound very boring to the bold men who've been running roughshod over us for most of this decade. Mr. Nader does sound an alarm, though: credit unions might decide to become more like commercial banks. But that only means their owners -- i.e., us -- need to stay involved in their operation.
Matthew Yglesias takes on the age-old debate over a-state's-job-versus-the-federal-government's job, and suggests that most of the legitimate problems citizens face (starting a business, licensing and zoning) are actually caused by state and local governments. I've argued in the past that state and local governments are better-equipped to handle state and local issues only when the federal government does its job as far as national regulation, but Mr. Yglesias suggests I might not even be right about that. He suggests more citizen involvement in state and local politics would help (or, rather, that our obsession with national politics makes us less able to be effective at lower levels). Plus, his first commenter might be right about Libertarians even though I want to believe better about them.