ICBA: Fine Points


This month 236 years ago, our Founding
Fathers set in motion our country's radically ingenious American experiment. No
other social or political revolution has done more to spread freedom,
opportunity and prosperity.

As our country continues its slow recovery
from the recent financial and economic debacle, we shouldn't lose sight of, or
forget to tell others about, how essential community banks are to sustaining America's
great economic promise. Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton and the other founders
understood that personal political freedom and individual economic liberty are
intertwined. Each helps ensure the other. That remains as true today as in
1776.

The
roots of our diversified community banking system-a dynamic system unmatched by
any other country's for its resiliency-extend back to our nation's earliest days.
By backing hard work, initiative and ingenuity, community banks remain the most
widely accessible gateways to the American economic dream. By their very missions and operational models, community banks most
efficiently and safely deploy our country's collective economic capital. Turning local
deposits into fertile funding for local small businesses and households,
community banks provide vital support to the backyard inventors and startup
entrepreneurs that fuel our nation's economy. Community banks are this nation's
primary small-business lenders, and small businesses generate more than 70
percent of all new jobs, often in new industries with bright futures.

True
freedom stems from having a viable chance to achieve one's own financial
goals, to control one's own economic destiny, to succeed based on one's own talent,
effort or ideas. Whether a dream involves a candle-making shop or a software
development firm, those opportunities remain the most accessible and alive at
community banks.

Today's sharp policy debates in Washington
and on this year's campaign trails reflect the decisions Americans face in
recalibrating the role of government in the aftermath of the Wall Street
financial crisis. In part because of your efforts and ICBA's, the dangers of
financial overconcentration and unstable too-big-to-fail institutions also
figure prominently in that debate. So, too, does the discussion of what is
appropriate and sensible regulation for community banks and small businesses.

America is listening. Most people recognize
that our country's economic recovery depends significantly on the ability of
small businesses to grow and create more jobs. As community bankers, your
firsthand work and experience as responsible stewards of our Main Street
economies have never been more relevant and important. Your views can influence
the direction and trajectory of our country's economic public policy as never
before.

Every
day community banks like yours-where direct accountability
still drives common-sense decisions-continue to fulfill America's founding
ideals of economic liberty and opportunity for all. Never forget that's what you
do, and what, together, we are working to pass along to future generations.

Happy
Independence Day!