Tag Archive: economics

A Right Bunch Of Bankers

There has of late been a great deal for those on the genuine left to feel somewhat smug about, provided of course you aren’t a Bollinger Bolshevik with an offshore bank account.  If it weren’t enough that the capitalist system seems quite content on eating itself, were it not for the continuing interventionist attitudes of governments in bailing it out.  (Funny though I seem to recall this sort of practice was rather frowned upon by many of the same people who are now coming for handouts when they looked at Eastern Europe and the Developing World.   I believe they stated that it was proof that the “socialist” economic model could not work.) Let us hope the World Bank and IMF are not quite so buccaneer in their terms and conditions when lending money to these countries now.

I like a large proportion of the population owe a fairly large sum of money to the banks, I do not have a mortgage and therefore a house to show for it as many do, nor do I have any savings unless I should be able to reclaim the £6,500 my bank has charged me in fees over the last five years.  Thus my enthusiasm to pay for the negligent greed of a bunch of pinstripe-suited idiots without a chin between the lot of them is somewhat mooted.  I always thought there was something of a caveat in the financial system in that the values can go up as well as down, that’s kind of the point with speculation, if there’s no prospect of down then there isn’t really a great deal to speculate on.

That the banks and their illuminati should be allowed to use tax payers money to shore up their problems is bad enough, that they should not have to pay back the profane dividends, bonuses and pension plans that they have liberally awarded themselves is yet worse, but the fact that the same government so intent on pouring money into the financial institutions as it did to Iraq should attempt to tell us that there is no money for welfare, no money for education, no money for public sector employees to be paid even at the rate of inflation is perhaps the bitterest pill to swallow.

I have never had a problem with income tax, in fact I have always made it quite clear that I think all taxation should be means-tested in the classic Marxist fashion of “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”  I have therefore had no problems with any party’s manifesto pledge that talks about tax rises to pay for essential public services as these services should be paid in this fashion.  However to have spent the last 11 years under a Labour government where the public transportation system is a shambles, the NHS is progressively privatised by the back door, the welfare system is unfair and people are told to look out for the benefit cheats and asylum seekers and illegal immigrants as a smokescreen to distract from them seeing the fact that the pittance that is offered to a great many people is not enough to live off and is quite simply an embarrassment in a so-called civilised society.

There is clearly now a hegemony of the neo-liberal and neo-conservative agendas such that we have lost sight of the priorities of our taxation income.  This money is paid so that the government can provide public services for the good of the population as a whole.  Whichever way you look at it the banks are not and never will be run as a public service and therefore have no right to receive any of this money.  My criticisms may be dismissed due to my politics the same way as when the minimum wage was brought in I had little time for the businesses that claimed they could not survive if they were forced to pay employees a basic wage, a wage that was in itself a sum equivalent to £144 gross for a 40 hour week – hardly the stuff dreams are made of.

To my mind if the banks cannot themselves navigate the system they effectively prop up then they must be allowed to go to the wall as this is the free market, and yes I do find it a tad uncomfortable to be in the situation of agreeing with the most traditionally right-wing free marketeers!  What I find a great deal more uncomfortable is to hear a spokesman for the banks on the news today talk about how he felt that the banks’ current system of self-regulation had been successful and should remain, this smacks at best of the head in the sand theory and at worst that flagrant disregard for the facts and a concept of the consequences of decisions in offices on those in the real world that we have sadly come to expect from the banks.

What has not been discussed is just what this means for the future of the sector and for our tax money.  What safeguards are going to be put into place to ensure this does not happen again, and should not these be worked out before we start handing over billions?  And when we have handed over the family silver as it were are we to expect it back at some stage?  Will we get good rates of interest on this “loan”, are we lending at a high rate of interest to these credit risk institutions the way they have for many years been allowed to exploit the less well off?  Can we send the boys round if they do not pay, can we charge an administration fee, an arrangement fee and debit interest if they default on any of the terms and conditions?

More importantly can I now go to the Bank Of England with my financial documents and state that since financial confidence is low in me at the moment I need money to bail myself out, after all I have children to support, they can’t afford to let me go to the wall!

Song Of The Day ~ Stereolab – Ping Pong

I read Danne the Infidel’s entry on Communism and it got me to thinking that there are perhaps a great deal of people who if they scratch the surface have never sought to deconstruct the morass of all the propaganist bollocks we have been fed from the height of the Cold War onwards about Communism and what are described as “Communist countries.” Even to the point of Communism now benefitting from people using Kazaa to download mp3s. Thank you guys, I don’t know exactly what you’re doing for the cause but if it helps Communism then cheers anyway! I am genuinely no expert on Communism nor the 3 countries below per sé, but being fairly political, not to mention priding myself on being something of a difficult bastard I do try where possible to get know some stuff from outside the box of what is the usual peddled party line. I was always rather fascinated with East Germany and Russia from the mid 80s onwards and took whatever opportunity to study as such. Much of what I have found has done nothing more complicated than the expounding of some rather obvious myths. I hope it may be of use and perhaps if I’m lucky spark further debate.

Danne cites the examples of China, Cuba and Venezuela as his 3 countries to observe and how there is the paradox of China being tolerated by some whilst others are lambasted for purportedly having the same ideological system. The fact is of course that they do not have the same ideological system at all.

Of course China is not really a Commmunist country by any definition but it is a country with huge economic potential because of the bigest internal market in the world, much of which has remained largely untapped by Western companies until very recently. As a result of this latent economic energy China is not only a very lucrative market for the West but also one that they are very scared of. After all if they don’t get in early enough not only will they miss out on the chance to make huge sums of money but they may also find themselves marginalised by stronger forces from within China itself. The US has not made China its most favoured trading nation because it wishes to help the Chinese people but like all the US policies because it is good for the US.

Take Google as an example, a company founded on the ethos of “Don’t do evil,” a company that has stood up for the anonimity of its users in the face of the US government, the same company that has cow-towed to the Chinese government when it came a-calling to campaign for the continuation of the Great Firewall of China and the consequent censorship of non-expedient material.

Cuba is a very different example, Cuba does not have vast economic wealth, but it is a constant thorn in the Americans side because it is right on their doorstep and doesn’t tow the line. A country and a Presidente who has resisted attempts to oust him for many decades is an embarrassment for the US, like the small kid that’s too fast for the bully to catch up with. Cuba is also an example of how outside of the global capitalist system and burdened by repressive illegal sanctions imposed by the US and despite grinding poverty it is possible to create a world-class health system for all citizens. After all America the richest country in the world doesn’t have that. However Cuba is not a Communist country nor Castro a Communist leader. One must bear in mind that the revolution which removed the pro-US dictator Fulgencio Batista was led principally by an alliance of Communists such as Ché Guevarra and included groups such as Castro and his supporters rather than being made up solely from them. In fact the US approach is summed up by Robert Lovett, member of the Eisenhower’s Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities who said in response to a debate which had drawn no clear conclusion as to whether Castro was a Communist, “Well it really doesn’t matter, does it? He acts like one.” The US is scared by Cuba because their system has survived so long and whilst flawed is certainly no more flawed than the US’ system itself. Castro’s seizure of power in fact owes a great deal to the US because it was the wholesale exploitation of Cuban resources, especially sugar, by US businesses that made the overthrow of Batista both possible and popular. Castro in fact visited the US after coming to power but the Whitehouse refused to meet or acknowledge him. The Soviet Union on the other hand was considerably more cordial and Castro was given a warm reception. Small wonder that in such a climate Fidel chooses to favour co-operation with the latter rather than the former.

It is not only an economic blockade that the US has imposed illegally on Cuba, the news blackout has been perhaps more effective certainly from a pan-global perspective. Let us think back to the Cuban Missile Crisis, an illuminative example when you consider that the common misconception is that US actions and diplomacy averted the degeneration of US-Soviet relations into a third world war. In fact the truth is less palatable to the US administration concerned and subsequent incumbants, far better to continue the propaganda machine and make Kennedy out to be the hero. The reason, we are generally given in the West, was that in response to Soviet aggression and the placement of nuclear warheads in Cuba the Kennedy administration managed to persuade Nikita Krushchev to back down. This convenient interpretation of events neglects to mention the US act of massive military stationing on the Russian backdoor across the Eastern frontier of West Germany not to mention missiles in US airbases in Italy and Turkey aimed at Russian targets. Only with the Soviet missiles stationed in Cuba in 1962 would the balance in fact be redressed and US cities brought into the potential firing line of any nuclear strike. Kennedy is cited as having made the Soviets turn back their ships and this is deemed to be a climb-down by the Soviets due to Kennedy’s strong actions. There are many events at the time which do not support this version of history such as the fact that far from the complete averting of military operations Kennedy allowed USAF planes to fly low over Cuba to see if a response could be provoked, it was Castro’s decision to consult with Krushchev and Krushchev’s decision to insist that no retalitory action was to be taken that proved to be crucial in avoiding any escalation of the conflict. From the US perspective Krushchev did abandon the plans for the nuclear base on Cuba but it is mentioned far less that in return Krushchev negociated the withdrawl of US nuclear weapns from Turkey.

Chavez and Venezuela is another different example because Chavez does not rule entirely by dictat, he has, for the Americans at least, the rather irritating habit of winning elections, they hate that, it is tantamount to them being played at their own game. Venezuela is double trouble for the US for the following reasons: Firstly oil, the black gold rears it head again and we all know what the US will do for that end, Iraq is testament to that. The second is that the US is very sceptical of the Central and South America region because it has proven to be something of a bete-noir for decades and persistently elects left-wing anti-US interventionist governments which the US then has to get rid of. Chavez is the latest in a long line of illustrious Latin American leaders that have stood against the US and its interests in favour of the people they have been elected to represent. Chavez is against the Washington consensus and openly states he is anti-imperialist. Those slippery Hispanics, how dare they take this democracy game so bloody literally!

Most of Chavez’s detractors are the external industrialists who are hardly excelling in helping Latin America’s empoverished in the many countries where they are still welcomed, the other group is the Venezuelan upper and middle classes, who again have something of a poor record when one bears in mind the parlous state of Venezuelan healthcare, education and food provision before Chavez’s election in 1998. Rather like the media blackout on Castro and the Cuban regime objective information about Chavez isn’t especially easy to find from conventional news sources and the US press in particular are vitriolic in their condemnation of the Chavez regime and quick to publicise the criticism from any of his detractors but not so ready to acknowledge that he might have some support. You can find an article here by a guy working for the BBC in Venezuela who details just how selective media coverage has been.

The moral of the story, I don’t know, all that’s red is not Communism, timeo Americanos et dona ferentes, Yanqui press is lies all lies. Take your pick really, I don’t think I need to try to impress upon people to take what they read with a strong pinch of salt no matter what source it comes from but don’t be surprised to find that so much of what you’ve heard and read may not quite be what it purported to be.

Song Of The Day ~ The Von Bondies – Tell Me What You See