Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Draw up the charge sheet!

If you were drawing up an indictment of those responsible for the present Great Crash, it would embrace more than just a few bankers delivering a well-rehearsed “sorry” before a committee of tame MPs as they did yesterday. Those in the dock would have to include governments like New Labour, corporate executives, those who run the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) and the so-called regulators who turned a blind eye as global capitalism gorged itself on fantasy finance.

These are the people and organisations who between them promoted the expansion of an unsustainable system that is collapsing before our eyes. Today’s figures showing unemployment close to 2 million do not tell half the story. They exclude the current avalanche of job losses and the many who do not register. Unemployment in the UK is now increasing twice as fast as the average across Europe.

Here is some evidence for the charge sheet.

Take the prime minister, Gordon Brown. In June 2007 he told bankers that he had “been able year by year to record how the City of London has risen by your efforts, ingenuity and creativity to become a new world leader”. and that the City’s “remarkable achievements” marked “an era that history will record as the beginning of a new golden age for the City of London”.

As to the New Labour government as a whole, since 1997 it has introduced the lowest corporation tax of any major economy, privatised large areas of public services and retained the most draconian anti-union laws in Europe. Anyone who served in these governments has to be indicted for their contribution to the Great Crash.

The WTO, IMF and WB are responsible for promoting a globalisation that has been entirely corporate-driven, based on deregulation, the enforced destruction/selling off of public services, investment in cheap labour areas and the expansion of the capitalist market economic model into every part of the globe. All those in charge of these organisations should be indicted too.

Transnational corporations (TNCs), propelled by the need to grow profits year on year, expanded production by borrowing vast sums from the banks, setting in motion the world of fantasy finance. They also ravaged the earth’s resources and are largely responsible for the acceleration of climate change. The chief executives and directors of the TNCs should also find themselves on the charge sheet.

Bankers, hedge funds, derivatives speculators et al. With an economy based on corporate and personal debt, they naturally turned this to their advantage. Debt became credit and vice versa. Untold riches were made by packaging up bundles of debt and selling them on. Money begat money in a fantasy world that seemed to defy economic laws where value is only created by the blood, sweat of tears of people actually making something useful.

The leaders of the financial sector need to be charged with bloodsucking! They could be joined by their friends in the so-called Financial Services Authority, which was warned of the present catastrophe by a whistleblower but did nothing about it.

If you think this charge sheet is drastic, remember that a senior writer in the Financial Times urged society recently to shoot the bankers without ceremony. At least my way they’ll get a trial! And when the former masters of the universe and their political cronies are sent off for a very long period of rehabilitation before their possible reintegration into society, they’ll leave room for us to establish a saner, more rational, more democratic, more sustainable society and economy based on providing for real need.

Paul Feldman
AWTW communications editor

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