17 January 2009

No, no, no

Margaret Thatcher was not a politician whose reputation was built on her facility to produce a well-turned phrase. She was famous for employing armies of speech writers and taking elocution lessons. Recent politicial shenanigans have forced me to borrow one of her least eloquent quotations and, indeed, have filled me with the sort of rage that must have propelled the intransigent termagant through 20 years of destructive policy-making.

How can it be that we have seemingly taken on the chin decades of servitude to pay for the banking bailout? I have lost count of the dizzying sums involved (if anybody knows where these are handily calculated please drop me a line) but when I last looked it was already enough to keep my putative grandchildren on the capitalist treadmill long into their dotage.

The people we are dealing with here are wideboys and sharks. They are the kind of people who, when given and inch, will take a mile. So we should not be surprised that having pulled this scam so spectacularly in the autumn they are now coming back for another go in the new year.

When it comes to the executives and shareholders of Barclays and RBS, and those who trade in their shares, we are talking about people who are in the habit of living off the work of others. In a recession, of course, when the economy is shrinking and money is tight, they cannot extract value using the traditional methods. They need to bully and defraud the government and taxpayers.

The tactic appears to be for stock-traders to target particular financial institutions and drive down their share price. Those controlling large numbers of shares, working with short sellers, can provoke massive downward movements in company values. The media creates a shock-horror story headlining the 'inevitability' of more public money; the politicians dutifully oblige.

The phrase 'public money' feels safe, almost positive, and is a cover for the fact that money is now being extorted from us and our descendants to be sent directly to bank directors and shareholders. This was originally billed as an unpalatable emergency measure - it now appears to have become routine. The phrase 'impotent rage' seems to sum up how I feel. Any suggestions as to means for making this rage potent would be welcome.

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