It’s sad to think that “let the buyer beware” should apply to credit unions, which so many progressives conscientiously choose over Wall Street–operated banks, but recent news bears out that warning: when a North Carolina credit union declared that credit unions should lead the way in transparency and made public its CAMEL rating (a metric of its health), the National Credit Union Association immediately took steps to prevent members from getting that information. How disappointing.

Historically, the co-op model has offered a workplace theory far superior to capitalism. Not driven by the profit motive, co-ops ought to be worker-empowering, democratic, healthier, less expensive, and more responsive to employee and community needs—valuable traits during this period of capitalist meltdown.

At this economic moment, as I found myself wondering whether I should get seriously involved in a co-op again, I began to investigate a few in...

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