Sunday News Patrol – April 20, 2014

ImageI don’t think many will disagree when I say that we all love Walmart. The retail gigantosaur just announced it will soon be offering a money transfer service called Walmart-2-Walmart. They will be offering financial transfer services from one Walmart store “2” another Walmart store at lower rates than traditional money-sending outfits. Here’s an overview from Slate, in case you didn’t get all the way through that official blog post.

This suddenly makes much more obvious the need for the Post Office to expand into so-called Postal Banking. Everyone knows USPS is struggling (due to a preposterous pension pre-funding problem) and opening up a financial services program could help the USPS and would give millions of poor Americans access to non-predatory financial services. Here’s a piece from The Economist and, if you really want to get into it, an interview from February with journalist David Dayen on the Majority Report. The interview starts about six minutes in, and Dayen makes a very clear case for why we should consider this simple idea, which is, after all, not unprecedented or revolutionary. Many other countries do this. The obvious part now is that instead of allowing Walmart to help the 28% of Americans who are under-served by banks we could do so through the the USPS, which has seven locations for every Walmart store. Plus, the postal service is cool and should be considered a triumph of our society and not a socialist big-government whatever-the-hell.

And here is a talk between Bill Moyers and Paul Krugman on Moyers and Company about the new book Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty. Krugman seems to think this French economist has created a new and very important way of looking at the world’s growing wealth inequality and how it has come to be much discussed and yet poorly understood. Krugman and Moyers also both agree that this is a very well-written and easy to read book, which certainly got me interested in actually reading it.

That’s the Sunday News Patrol.

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