I very much believe that countries that are in general considered democracies get the leaders they deserve. We, the people after all were clever or stupid enough (not) to vote for them.
Yesterday I saw a very informative and entertaining documentary by Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye and reoccurring Mr. Witty at Have I Got News for You. The man who so could’ve been my favourite uncle. In another life time perhaps. In this documentary called When Bankers Were Good Hislop investigates the attitudes and philanthropy of Victorian bankers as the bankers of our day are mainly considered immoral, greedy bastards. At the very end Hislop poses the question if we in our time get the bankers we deserve, just like our politicians.’ Stop right there!’ I hear you say. ‘Did I vote for that scum to rob me of my spending power, my job, my life savings, my economy? Nay, Madam, I did not’. Maybe so.
In the early decades of the last century the government started building the welfare state so the more-needy could depend on the state rather than the goodwill of wealthy folk for their survival. Much later the Iron Lady hit the scene and introduced us to her own ism. She sold large parts of the state to the private sector, cut back regulations considerably and quite a few who had their eyes on the ball did very well indeed in financial terms. Consumerism and materialism became concepts for the masses – looking back Madonna’s Material Girl was most certainly a sign of the times, but I guess you had to be there- and greed became good. Maggie went, the noughties came with cheap credit so we could spend some more. Most of us did good. Some of us did extremely well. Some moody farts started whining that all this was not sustainable. That all this confidence was based on air and this air bubble would burst leaving us with the hangover from hell. But no one likes a party pooper so those people got either ridiculed or fired from their job. Then 2008 came, the bubble did indeed burst and things turned ugly and are still not looking too funky. Banks collapsed, got bailed-out, people lost their job, their house, their life savings and/or started to feel the big squeeze. The people blamed the bankers, the bankers blamed the regulators and then some blamed the people for buying into that cheap credit b*llocks in the first place. If bankers had ethics and a sense of shame like their Victorian counter parts, then the crash of 2008 would probably never have happened. If consumers had a sense of economic responsibility and not spend money they wouldn’t have and save up for the larger purchases in life like people in Victorian times then we wouldn’t have been able to create that air bubble in the first place let alone blow it up. But then commerce has been very good at selling us stuff we actually don’t need. The greedy, immoral banker has been able to sell us aircastles, get us drunk on cheap credit so we couldn’t think straight. The bankers were not obstructed by regulators who were or were not put in place by governments, who welcomed the bastards with open arms and pampered them with low tax rates. Governments we, the people, put into to power. Democracy might not be working and you might have been a thrifty consumer all along. If the power lies with the people then we the people as consumers, voters, employees, employers and shareholders should vote with our feet. We can change bank accounts, which is really not as difficult as perceived, we can vote for any party except the big two and half. We can refuse to work in the banking sector, we can choose to find our funding elsewhere. We can choose to say no at the next shareholders’ meeting to bankers’ pay increase. Yes we can. But we don’t. So perhaps we, the people, do indeed get the bankers we deserve.
Catch it while you can
top image: fsteurope.com