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Our Financial Freedom 

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 involves 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, has 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 course and trajectory of our country’s economic public policy as never before.

Every day community banks like yours—where 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!

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