The two reasons I started this blog and began this quest to opt out of ‘normal’ life was the MP’s expenses scandal and the banking crisis. I’m very aware though that none of my blog posts have been about these issues. Part of the reason for this is that such issues anger me and I’m tired of being angry. I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that it’s easier to play the system rather than fight it. It makes for a less stressful life!
The Banking Crisis a few years on
It’s clear that little has changed since the banking crisis. Taxpayers money helped bail them out and in return they have just spat in our faces. The huge bonus culture continues. Despite all time low Bank of England interest rates, borrowing rates have shot up meaning even larger profit margins. Small businesses who have always made a profit cannot get a bank loan for new projects and may fail as a result. At the time the banking crisis hit we were told by our politicians that they would seek to split the banks up into safe retail banks and risky investment banks. Has it happened? No of course not! If you’ve not already seen it, watch the movie called ‘Inside Job’ to see just how little has changed since the banking crisis.
Before Margaret Thatcher privatised everything we already owned and sold it back to us, most of us did not own shares. For many our mortgages and savings were held in a building society…….remember them? What was wrong with building societies exactly? They seemed to work really well in my opinion. Sure the bosses of these building societies did not have the same fat salaries that the banking bosses did, and maybe this collective greed resulted in their demise. The building society bosses wanted to become banks and award themselves fat bonuses but they needed us to agree so they bribed us and of course we voted for short term gain as we always seem to do!
The people I feel most sorry for in this banking crisis are those pensioners who retired just after the crash when their pension value was slashed. How is it fair that someone who has worked hard all their life is affected so much by bad luck and timing? I have no objection to people gambling with their own money but how do those of us who want no part of it untangle ourselves from these bastard institutions? There are things we can do and should be doing.
The Banking Crisis – What can we do?
I’m no financial expert and would welcome suggestions and comments on what ordinary people can do to fight back against this banking crisis. I do feel we should take action though and not rely on our politicians to do it. The British are not good at taking action, we like to complain about things but don’t actually get off our collective arses and do something about it. One of the things I did after the banking crisis was change banks. I used to be with Lloyds TSB who treated me badly after the crash. Banks like these don’t care about the customer, they only care about the shareholders. I don’t own shares in Lloyds TSB so I decided to vote with my feet and instead opened an account with The Co-operative Bank. You have no idea what a difference I’ve noticed! I rarely need to call my bank but when I do I speak to someone in the UK and not in an Indian call centre. How is it that The Co-operative Bank can afford UK call centre staff but Lloyds TSB can’t? How much did we the taxpayer have to spend to bail out The Co-operative Bank? See where I’m coming from? If more of us voted with our feet these evil banks would have to either change their ways or go out of business.
Another thing I would like to see is teaching of the financial markets in every school in the country. My own education was pretty standard. I took academic options and actually enjoyed mathematics but I cannot remember the last time I needed to know about quadratic equations. Since our futures are so dependent on the state of the markets does it not make sense that we should at least have some idea how they work and perhaps then take greater control over our own destiny? Could it be perhaps that the current curriculum is devised to churn out the next generation of cannon fodder for soulless, dead end office jobs? Perhaps those in power don’t want to arm the plebs with too much knowledge!
I’m not saying my way of opting out of the current system is right for everyone. The banking crisis has happened and is still with us. If we want change we will have to make it happen. Changing goverments won’t do it. By taking more responsibility ourselves we might just be able to protect ourselves better the next time a banking crisis hits.