I love holidays; a time when many are off elsewhere and the news channels need to dig, dig, dig to find people who are willing to sit around and dish. I also love Larry Kudlow; a free market guy whose bombastic presence and jovial nature are still around, despite the holidays on CNBC (and being a guy who wears glasses, I love that Kudlow hasn’t bent to the wills of the 20/20 world and freely wears his specs; even though the glaring off-stage lights sometimes illuminate his whole face). Arianna Huffington is another one of those regulars who just loves to be around whenever CNBC, MSNBC or anyone else will let her. However their presences are divergent; Kudlow is there to open up the forum and make all voices heard while Huffington is there to try and push her agenda (and sell her magazine in the meanwhile).
At the same time that Kudlow is host, he also calls people out; often; when they’re trying to push ideas he disagrees with. So it was with some interest that I watched the CNBC program The Call on New Year’s Eve Day with quasi-socialist Huffington coming in to push her latest issue of The Huffington Post which has the cover story “New Year’s Resolution: Move Your Money to Community Banks.” The cover of this story features Jimmy Stewarts, George Bailey in the center of three images, probably pleading with Mr. Potter to just remember the people. I just watched “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the other day and was reminded, as I am every year this time of the year, about the essential goodness of people. It creates a warm, soft, snuggly spot in my mind and a longing dream in my heart.
After watching the Capra classic, I sat in the dark for just a beat, turned to my beautiful wife, sighed…and then I flicked on the light switch to the real world. I scowled to my computer, paid off an overdraft loan from Chase bank that’s years and years old, grunted about the current financial malaise, and remembered even though I’d like things to be simple and free and easy, they definitely were not. Yes, JP Morgan and Citibank are the scourge of the earth, yes whenever I see that pudgy little jerk, Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis talk about “how times are tough,” he makes me want to throw the TV. Of course. I share that anger and that frustration. Of course.
At the same time, I totally agree with Larry Kudlow that smaller, community banks are not necessarily the answer. Quoting Kudlow to Huffington, “There is no magic bullet.” To take it a step further, I don’t want my community bank to go belly-up, get swallowed by one of the bigger banks and have my too big to fail bank decided for me. Or even worse perhaps to wake up in a Bailey-sub reality and have my community bank tell me they can’t give me my money because they don’t have it.
Arianna Huffington said that if “hundreds of thousands of Americans all do the right thing (and move to community banks) we can stop too big to fail.” Unfortunately for Huffington, in 2010 and forever, it’s that cattle-herd mentality that bad people see, exploit, and take advantage of. If we want to protect ourselves we all need to act in our own individual best interest, lest we all fall down.