Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bare-faced gall

"“Our worst fears have been surpassed,” Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said in the parliament in Dublin yesterday. “Irish banking made appalling lending decisions that will cost the taxpayer dearly for years to come.”" Garnered from Mike Shedlock's blog

I laughed/coughed out when I read that quote. The criminals are again to be bailed out by the tax payer, and without remotely contemplating prosecution! FFS! This has warped beyond the other side of funny, hurtled across bizarre, skidded over surreal and has thudded down somewhere sick, fetid, putrid and indigestible. The proper words to describe the situation don't actually exist. Maybe future generations will look back at this and come up with something appropriate. I hope we make it that far.


Edwardo said...

It's the single best marker of how thoroughly rotten the entire western system of governance has become that there are no investigations or prosecutions, let alone convictions. Having said that, I don't know which group enrages me more, the "authorities" or the citizenry who seem, in the aggregate, unmoved to action. One gets the government one deserves.

Toby said...

We are the system. We make it, day by day, year by year. The divisions we set up to understand its workings, the sectors and other components like "government" and "market," do have a (limited) use, but also serve to keep us in "us and them" mode. This mode is millennia old and will take a lot of breaking down. The Internet is our best chance of affecting deep change, or at least of sowing the right seeds. This is going to take time though, and I can't see it being a smooth process either.

There's a poster of at Naked Capitalism discussing the MMT thread who holds those who maxed out their credit cards responsible for their actions, such that they should have known better than to buy stuff they could not afford. We do not have a system that socialises people in a way that allows such responsible thinking. It breeds pliable sheep, manipulatable consumers, without whom we would have no growth. We get the government we deserve, yes, but the whole thing is systemic, including the education system, the adverstising, and all propaganda. Politicians, consumers, businessmen, the intelligentsia, central bankers, all grow up in the same system, stew in the same soup, albeit at different levels and schools, neighbourhoods etc, but it's the same system in the end. It has to change before things can begin to improve, and it can only start locally, with each one of us wanting something new.

Martin said...

Toby, what do you think, MMT seems to me at this point to be a bridge into the resource based economy, if for no other reason than the emphasis on an ecological management of money. A democratically arrived value by a population keenly aware of ecology, rather than a value controlled by carefully selected and delicately corrupted economists, bankers, wizards.

It's strange that the MMT discussion is still in the wilderness with the rest of us, since the fiat currencies have been around for some time now.

Toby said...

Hi Martin,

I'm looking into MMT and will post my thoughts on it in due course. I'm still with my inlaws and have a very painful case of sinusitis, so it's been a horrible easter break.

In brief, what appeals to me about MMT is that it sees money for what it is, an enabler of economic activitiy. It recognises that we need not go into debt to create money, which is good. That's not a new idea of course, Lincoln tried it to varying degrees of success with colonial scrip. I think Philadelphia had the best system, releasing into their economy an amount of non-debt money equal to the percentage charged on the debt-money. Quite neat.

Problems are that credit works as before, meaning private money-creating institutions will vacuum money out of the economy via interest as now, and I think inflation would be tricky for smaller countries. Then there's technological employment, which is not addressed by MMT at all, which seeks 100% employment. However, something as simple as reducing the work-week could deal with that issue. And then of course there's corruption, a beast we will always have with us while we have money, upsetting our plans in unforseeable ways.

On the whole I think MMT makes a lot of sense, and would be a very useful tool for transitioning away from monetary systems. It sees humans as being in charge of money, and not the other way around. That's a very good thing in my view.

Debra said...

I agree with you, Toby, we ARE the system.
And as I'm saying in my saloon, we make systems that have the.. disadvantages of their advantages and the advantages of their disadvantages.
WE made the ATM machines that encourage people to think that money grows in ATM machines in order to encourage people to max out their credit cards to feed an economic system built on endless consumption..
WHO are we going to punish for that one ??
Corruption has always been around.
Check out.. Mr Smith Goes to Washington, for example, just for our country.
The INTERESTING question is.. why do we all of a sudden get so up tight about it ?
Why do we reach a breaking point ?
Could it be because when the system is being good to us, then we are happy buying our new cars, our plasma TV's, doing our thing, but.. when the system STOPS being good to us, we START looking around for a bad guy to blame ?
This viewpoint is a little cynical, but on the punishment gig, I'm rather cynical.
I don't like the punishment gig.
The U.S. of A has been overdoing the punishment gig for quite some time now.

Toby said...

Hi Debra,

A book by John McMurtry might offer an interesting and useful angle on your question as to why, even though we are the system, we get so riled and sickened by it: The Cancer Stage of Capitalism, though written in the late '90s is a must read in my opinion. Our system has become rapacious to the point of destruction of the life-host which supports it, and is blind to this fact, as a cancer is.

To my mind you can only have corruption when you have society structured around some scarcity-based monetary system. The people of St Kilda , as presented in "St Kilda, Island an the Edge of the World" lived money- and crime-free for centuries, right up until the early 1900s. Indeed it was the introduction of money into their society which did them in.