Thursday, 5 July 2012

Two contrasting sets of facts

!.  According to Tuesday's Guardian (03/07/12)  "the Queen costs every man, woman and child in the UK 52p over the year..." (page 4 of the main section, article by Caroline Davies).  In the same edition  (G2, pp6 to 9) Aditya Chakraborrty tells us: "Each  man, woman and child  in Britain has already handed over £19,271 (to bail out the banks)."  That last figure, by the way, is not   French style nineteen virgule 271 pounds, but nineteen thousand, two hundred and seventy-one pounds, or £84, 792 per family, hard-working or not,  if the "average" is still two adults and 2.4 children.

Whereas the expenditure on the Queen, if otherwise injected into the economy, wouldn't have made much difference, if that almost £20,000 per person had been judiciously fed into the economy with, say, higher unemployment and welfare benefits; rises for the low paid in "care for the elderly" systems, local government and the NHS;  directed into the rebuilding of the infrastructure, development of green technology and mixed housing on brown-field sites;  and loaned for investment to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) via one of the banks that the government actually owns, we should already be soaring out of recession.

Instead the banks remain in, in fact are in even deeper, crisis, and the recession has become "double dip" with few signs of any revival.

2. In last Saturday's Guardian (30/06/12) an article by Jonathan Freedland points out that that 1,292 people were jailed for their part in  last summer's riots, many of them in overnight courts set up especially for the occasion.  How many people have been jailed for their part in the festering banking scandal?  Well, there was Nick Leeson, but that was in a previous crisis.  Any others I may have missed?

On Monday we learned that Mr Marcus Agius, Chairman of the Barclays board, had decided to resign.  Yesterday we learned that he had decided to unresign, and Bob Diamond had  resigned instead.  Let's hope that's not the end of that. I don't recall any rioter being let off by promising to resign from his gang. But so far there have been no courts, overnight or otherwise, convened to deal with the perpetrators of the financial wrong-doing "pour encourager les autres."  Instead the powers that be are still squabbling about whose fault it was, what sort of enquiry to set up, and even if there has been a crime at all.

In this as in so much we are not "all in this together."  Have the authorities demanded of our "cousins" at American Embassy that Bob Diamond's passport be confiscated so he can't skip off to the US and avoid any consequences of his actions, or lack of them?  Have his assets, or at least those not already stashed away in a tax haven,  been  frozen? Have there been any dawn  raids on the houses of the various wheelers and dealers who may have been involved  so that they can be questioned in police custody  and, if necessary, refused bail pending their trials?

 I neither approve of nor even condone shoplifting, , theft, rioting or any other unlawful behaviour, but if the sufferers at the bottom of the pile in our divided and unequal society decided to help themselves to a few of the goodies so flaunted in our rich economy, on the grounds that "if they can get away with it, why shouldn't we?"  I'd understand.

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