Friday, 3 September 2010

How 'Good' is Britain?

Quoting Aristotle, and following on from my last post, the following question is now partially answered ...

Aristotle said ...  "The trade of the petty usurer is hated with most reason: it makes a profit from currency itself, instead of making it from the process which currency was meant to serve. Their common characteristic is obviously their sordid avarice*"

And this week Robert Peston, one of the few in the BBC bold enough to question what is going on, this week highlighted the "Valueless Banking Boom", following figures released by the Bank of International Settlement, which show global foreign exchange turnover rose 20% to $4trn per day on average (yes, that's each single day) in April 2010 compared with April 2007.

"A sum equivalent to the entire output of the global economy is traded around once a fortnight on currency markets ... and what's more, London's portion of this business has increased even faster, by 25%, so UK based banks' share of forex business is a market-leading 37%.

As for over-the-counter interest rate derivatives (transactions that are largely bets on the direction of interest rates), these rose 24% globally to $2.1 trn ... and Britain's share of these trades was a striking 46%, up from 44% in 2007.

Many might well dispute that the great banking meltdown of 2008 happened because of this explosive growth in financial trading - but the trading certainly didn't prevent the crash.  It is clear that bankers are being allowed to continue to gamble unabated, without the fundamental problem being addressed (i.e. bankers' gambling being separated completely from ordinary citizens' savings).

And there is a massive disconnect between a global economy that has less than doubled in size over 12 years and - on the other hand - OTC derivative transactions that have increased eight fold while foreign exchange transactions have almost trebled in value. What's more, as I've pointed out before, the global economy was growing quite as fast in the 1960s when much of this financial business barely existed.  

So those (like me) who can't see the point of all these financial trades may have a point - unless, that is, you believe the enrichment of financial traders and hedge fund managers is a social good in itself.

Which is why, some would say, it's slightly odd that when no less an authority than the chairman of the Financial Services Authority, Lord Turner, questions the social utility of much activity in financial markets, and also suggests that it might be no bad thing to levy a tiny Tobin tax on all this frenetic trading in electrons, well it's curious that the chancellor of the exchequer (who could use a bob or two) doesn't lick his chops and demand a bit of that."

Well it's clear that immorality/corruption runs deep, and at present with whatever 'colour' of Government is in Power (n.b. ironically the last Government arguably lead the way to this path of immorality - 'led' by politicians who hid behind supposed religious beliefs), and none of them are going to challenge anything that serves their own vested interests ... even when it's clearly at the expense of everyone elses'. 

From a society (and moral point) of view, separating gambling from traditional banking is a 'no-brainer', but current leaders continue to choose not to do this.  From a society and moral point of view, restricting (and taxing) trading/gambling, and investing resources into activities that add real value (the reason for currency) is also paramount, but current leaders choose not to do this either.  Clearly the hidden hand of 'power' exerts major influence on those seen to be in 'power' (e.g. Politicians) and only truly honorable, respectful, courageous and strong 'leaders' will resist this and do what is right ... and the current set of Politicians are rapidly proving they have none of these qualities (particularly the first, and arguably the most important, two).

My previous reference to the article below explains/expands on this point ...

"Introducing tighter regulations for bankers or politicians does not raise their level of maturity, morality or their ethics, it just limits what they can get away with. No, it is the type of people, the Ethnocentrics themselves, that have to go. Worldcentric people by definition and by their nature would not have abused the old regulations, let alone need new ones. Anyone below Worldcentric on the “chart” should not be selected or elected into positions of leadership in politics or big corporations, not just banks. Fewer people would fit the bill and that would limit our choice, and so it should.

The second of the two issues was the failure of commentators to seriously question the capitalist economic system that has proved to be so fragile and unjust. It has brought wealth to half the world while the rest starve; it thrives on excess consumption and the inevitable emissions, and it seriously retards the evolutionary development of individuals and cultures. Bankers and politicians alike strive to prop up the old failing system which they abused, because they know no better.

However there is also a groundswell of more conscious or ‘worldcentric’ people who will no longer tolerate the old order and they will become ever more vociferous until the ethnocentric majority of politicians are discredited, ousted and replaced. Some commentators will reread if not resurrect Karl Marx, but the way is forward not backwards. A new economic order is essential, one that puts people and planet before profit".

To answer the question we need to go back to Aristotle ... noting we are recognised as the nation leading the way in profiteering from currency, instead of making it from the process which currency was meant to serve. 

The immorality of such action is clear, and those who conspire to allow this to happen are not 'Good People' and need to be challenged ... and it will take 'Good People' to join together to do this**

... so "How Good is Britain?" ... well the evidence suggests not good I'm afraid ... and in the future ... well we shall see (i.e. will "Good" people do nothing, and be complicit in evil). 

And as I also referred to in my last post, Aristotle referred to the 'Evil of Ignorance' ... IMHO Apathy (i.e. Type 2 Ignoromics***) can be referred to as 'evil' (as it is both complicit with and an accessory to evil), but Ignorance (Type 1 Ignoromics***) is arguably less so (as it is neither complicit with nor an accessory to).

* Avarice - Extreme greed for wealth or material gain.
*** Ignoromics = People are either effectively ignorant of the situation (Type 1 - Ignorance) or not prepared to take responsibility to make sure it changes for the better (Type 2 - Apathy).