Q&A with Take on Wall Street

March 1, 2021

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(This article first appeared in the March/April 2021 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

Since the launch of the Postal Banking campaign, one of our biggest allies has been Take on Wall Street. The organization is a major supporter of postal banking and the APWU’s fight to Save the Post Office. We asked Porter McConnell, Take on Wall Street’s Campaign Director, to discuss the campaign and its goals. Her answers have been lightly edited for space and clarity.

Q. What is Take on Wall Street?

The Take on Wall Street coalition was launched in 2016 by over 60 community organizations, labor unions, consumer activists and faith groups who wanted to build a financial system for white, Black and Brown working families, not the big Wall Street banks. Together we envision a better financial system, we train activists, we cultivate political champions, and if we do our job right, we deliver policy change to restore the financial sector to its rightful place in service of the real economy.

Q. What is “financialization,” and how does it affect the lives of working people?

Finance is the management of money, and “financialization” refers to the increasing power of finance over the economy. The financial sector – Wall Street – finds a way to extract profit from every facet of our lives, our housing, health, education, and even our water.

Letting finance write the rules and dominate the economy has harmed the rest of us, most of all working people. Rather than channeling investments to projects that support jobs, families, and communities, Wall Street company owners, executives and money managers are buying our elected leaders and rigging the rules in their favor in order to extract wealth from people. Wall Street executives extract wealth from all of us, but they especially target Black, Indigenous and other communities of color. Financial executives are trained to take a shortterm “take the money and run” approach, which leads to booms and busts and makes our whole economy more unstable.

Q. What does Take on Wall Street hope to accomplish, and how is the organization going about doing so?

We are trying to re-write the rules to make an economy for working people, not billionaires and big banks. We fight for policy changes to unrig the tax code – stripping out all the loopholes for the rich and corporations that allow them to pay a lower tax rate than postal workers, firefighters, and teachers – and taxing unearned wealth to narrow the wealth gap. Because one in four American households is unbanked or underbanked, we work to expand access to fair banking services through “public options” like postal banking. We push to curb Wall Street’s influence in Washington through campaign finance, voting rights and ethics reforms. We are also fighting to stop in its tracks the privatization of national treasures like the Postal Service.

Q. Why is preserving the public Postal Service important to Take on Wall Street?

We deserve a public Postal Service: it is a right, not a privilege. The Postal Service’s universal service obligation is unique, and it serves as a beacon to other public services. We have seen what happens when places like Colorado Springs, or the state of Kansas, attempt to starve government and make public services like streetlights optional and privately delivered: it means we throw our most vulnerable neighbors under the bus. It means when a brutal winter storm hits Texas, the power company fails to keep people warm, and charges them five figure bills for cold houses. We have to demand better from our elected leaders.

Q. How can APWU members get involved?

We invite APWU members to sign up to our email list to take action on everything from saving the post office, to taxing Wall Street, to getting money out of politics. Just visit takeonwallstreet.org.

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