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Capitalist Morals Needed

May 9th, 2010

The financial crisis in Greece has lead to the expectation that the vultures are circling ready to make fortunes the like not seen since George Soros socked it to the bank of England on Black Wednesday in 1992. The vultures are not expected to show any mercy to the thousands who will lose jobs and houses and pensions in the sure to come feeding frenzy. And when they are done, it is expected that they will turn their eyes to other prey in Europe including the UK.

The hunters in this scenario are finance people, money people who are speculating on the outcome of the Greek crisis. This is what our business in the ‘Western world’ has become, a bunch of money men, bankers, no production just the shifting of money. These are the very same people who are responsible for the lovely budget deficit that our new Government, who ever it is, has to recover from us in increased taxation.

There has been some recognition in the quarters that matter, that we need to manage the immorality that appears to be seeping though our business system with suggestion of laws and rules to manage money men’s behaviour both in The USA and the UK. It’s even suggested by no less than by a cross-party commission that bankers could be forced to pledge to behave ethically – just as doctors take the Hippocratic Oath.

The banks continually show their distain for their customers (examples BBC News - Nationwide to restrict small cash counter withdrawals and BBC News - Banks criticised by FSA over customer complaints) constantly pretending to be serving them better, but they are not the only suspects in the rotten smell of Western capitalism.

In his article, Modern capitalism is at a moral dead end. And the bosses are to blame, Will Hutton quoted Richard Lambert, the director-general of the CBI, who said that today’s CEOs are people who, for the first time in history, have become seriously rich as mere officers of their companies rather than risking any money of their own. In their search for short term gains, everything is game and most at risk, is the employees closely followed by the squeezing of suppliers and all this contributing to a spiralling and growing global poverty that does not bode well for the future of the planet.

Our society’s obsession with money is to blame. We pressure our pension funds and our savings providers to perform better. We demand lower taxes and lower costs of borrowing and we ask for cheaper prices in our supermarkets and furniture shops and our clothes shops. Fairness has nothing to do with it as long as “I’m alright Jack”. This translates into funds pressurising corporations to look for short term returns, corporations run by short termist leaders that try to get ‘alright’ as quickly as possible because they know, just like all the other corporate employees, the long term forecast of employment is not good!

Yes, folks, we empower these people giving them our money to screw us. All the while they use smoke and mirrors to show us how well we are doing at the same time skimming the cream so that if they found themselves like many of us will no doubt do, unemployed, they will have a couple of million pounds/dollars to tide them over.

We are all capitalists, selling our labour for cash, hopefully more than enough for our needs, so we can invest in our future; our saving, our investments and our pensions from which we expect some kind of ‘profit’. If we can get by by spending less in the meantime that is paying less for stuff, all the better.

We need to put some brakes on. We need to determine what an obscene return on investment is, is 100% profit actually moral? Who got screwed to be able to produce such an exceptional performance? How can companies, year after year, increase profits, there being a limited supply of customers and money? How can it be justified that I can pay 10p for a banana that has been grown thousands of miles away, hand harvested and transported to my local supermarket? Why isn’t the farmer that produced that banana doing well from such trade?

We all need to examine our morals or it will all end in tears!

My biggest hope is that the Third World countries, especially in Africa, learn lessons and not follow this madness; they stand to gain so much more in the future because I fear we will not learn the lesson until it is too late.

In the meantime, I’m alright Jack.

[First published on my NotTheNews blog on specified date]