We’re rapidly converging on an historic moment in linguistics: where a euphemism (in this case the cockney rhyming slang) becomes ruder than the word that it signifies. Yes, give it a couple of weeks and I think that the term ‘merchant banker’ will actually be considered a more offensive label than “wanker”. After all, we’re all fond of a little quality time with ourselves now and again (well, not now, obviously, I can’t type very quickly one-handed…) but only a select few get to jerk off the financial institutions of the whole world.
Bob Diamond isn’t doing himself a lot of favours; his nervous smirk outside the hearing was that of a schoolboy exiting the head’s office having got off without the six of the best that he richly deserved. Let’s be fair, though – the one part of his statement that we should examine carefully is that it wasn’t *all* his fault. Don’t worry, gentle reader, I’m still of the opinion that he should be reduced to paupery and sent to share a tiny, dank cell with a petrifying, eighteen stone, tattooed man who calls him “Sweet Louise”.
Whatever details emerge, no matter which banks are implicated, or get off the hook or pass the buck, this scandal should serve to demonstrate to all but the most blinkered of conservative thinker (so we can write off the readership of the Daily Mail, for openers…) that our financial institutions are corrupt. Even the Economist is willing to admit that this is a matter of global significance. No shit, Sherlock. As pointed out in some of the less right-leaning press, these little tweaks have a vast effect on the world financially: I mean, I wouldn’t say no to 0.1% of 800 trillion dollars. Incidentally, on a sidebar – those people who’ve been writing in to the ‘Have your say, you cretin’ section of the papers and BBC website suggesting that the money spent on the Large Hadron Collider was wasted when it turns out the Higgs boson can’t be made into designer jewellery: what sort of value do you call the billions that have been pumped into banks – i.e. – given straight to criminals, as it turns out? Restoring confidence in the economy by giving money to banks is like restoring confidence in justice by sending the police round to nick your phone and give it to a hoodie.
Back to the Economist, though, who are bravely suggesting that some sort of banking reform is in order, perhaps some way of making it a little bit harder for bankers to fiddle it. Cracking idea, Grommit, except that if you leave let’s say, a diamond, in the middle of a room full of criminals, sellotaping it to the table isn’t going to keep it there that long. Perhaps Christ was right and we should simply drive the moneylenders from the temple.
As many, such as my friend and second favourite percussionist* have pointed out, a financial system based on debt is simply not workable. Paying off debt with debt is like opening the portholes of a sinking boat to let the water out. The Economist’s suggestions for reforming the banking system – in fact, every suggestion that you’re going to see in the mainstream media (hint – are they all owned by [a] – rich people or [b] – regular people with the interests of others at heart?) for reforming the banks is going to be like trying to improve custom at a restaurant by changing the wine list while the place is on fire.
The banks aren’t even the problem – reforming them is treating a symptom instead of the disease (and the treatments being suggested are like homeopathy anyway – basically a confidence trick to get more money from the gullible). The problem is that the super-wealthy have bought power.
The purpose of a government, of electing public servants is that they should serve the interests of the public. Not aid the rich and powerful in manipulating the public to their own ends. Hard work, ingenuity and honesty should confer an individual with a chance to improve their lot, not to be held back by those with inherited privilege and no scruples. The current parliament is absurd: a debating club for public schoolboys. Until that changes, the corporations, the banks and the white collar crims will have their hands in your pockets until it’s time to steal your trousers. They’re all wankers. Cast aside the diamond, folks, kneel before the current administration and you’ll be getting a pearl necklace either way…
* I know what you’re thinking. All the others 😉