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Political Mercury

Nov 10, 2011
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Occupy Wall Street boosts rural Iowa main streets

By Douglas Burns

Strong school systems. Rich, black-coffee-colored-soil. Strong sewing in our social fabric.

When we discuss rural Iowa’s advantages, the reasons for our comparative successes, our lower unemployment rates than the prevailing national numbers, these factors come to the fore.

But there’s something else that deserves more attention as a determinative influence on life in rural Iowa: the presence of robust, credible, entirely trustworthy community banks.

Lives in rural Iowa didn’t burst in the housing bubble. We have lenders that do business the time-honored way: sitting across from families and discussing reasonable loans for homes they can actually afford.

We see the impact of our local banks up close and personal. We get it. They do business in an honorable way.

That’s why it’s so encouraging to see the nation’s collective eye now being turned to the benefits of community banks. The protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement have dramatically strengthened the Move Your Money Project — a national grassroots push calling on depositors to switch from Goliath national banks, and the dangerous hubris that goes with them, to our competent and humble community banks.

“Potentially thousands will withdraw their money from the nation’s largest Wall Street banks and move to small community banks and credit unions,” says the website “What started out as just a Facebook event page by Kristen Christian of California, quickly went viral and garnered national media attention.”

Community banks improve America’s communities by funding nearly 60 percent of all small businesses under $1 million and by using local dollars to help families purchase homes, buy cars, finance college and build financial security, according to the Community Bankers of Iowa organization.

Say what you will about the Occupy Wall Street protesters, their tactics and politics, and their often incoherent or indecipherable principles. Not to mention some of those over-the-top antics in Oakland, Calif.

But they are on to something with support of community banks. What Occupy Wall Street and the Move Your Money organizations are advocating is four-square good for rural Iowa.

• • •

In December of 2009 Political Mercury said: “Marco Rubio The Republican to Watch in 2010.”

“If I were a conservative twenty-something political activist, I’d be heading to Palm Beach or Tampa right now and looking for a job with Rubio,” the column said. “Rubio’s got the goods for the national stage, and should he take that U.S. Senate seat, he’ll instantly be in the running as a potential vice presidential running mate for the GOP nominee in 2012.”

Now there’s research to show that Rubio, a U.S. senator from Florida, changes the landscape in his all-important state when added to the Republican ticket, according to a Suffolk University/7NEWS (WSVN-Miami) poll of registered voters in Florida.

Assuming the selection of Rubio in the vice president spot, the Republican presidential nominee would secure 46 percent to President Barack Obama’s 41 percent, with 2 percent voting for an independent candidate and 12 percent undecided. The poll also showed Mitt Romney (25 percent) running neck-and-neck with Herman Cain (24 percent) among registered Republicans in Florida.

• • •

Writing in Rolling Stone magazine, the provocative Matt Taibbi says Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, doesn’t present himself well when tired. In fact, Taibbi writes, Perry can resemble “a funeral director with a hangover.”

• • •

Does “Boss” have the right stuff?

The new Starz television series starring Kelsey Grammer as Chicago Mayor Tom Kane is a layered political drama, that so far, is intriguing. Grammer absolutely devours the role of the big-city boss. Of course, enough real drama plays out in our politics, but the Friday night show is worth catching if for no other reason than to see Grammer and his scene (make that series) stealing star turn. CV

Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who writes for The Carroll Daily Times Herald and offers columns for Cityview.

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