Sunday 29 May 2011

Trickle down punishment

Over the last couple of decades, lots of people in the UK chose to live beyond their means.  They borrowed money that didn't really exist from banks on the promise that the boom times would roll and they would find enough money to pay for it all in due course.

They borrowed oodles of cash on credit, as loans mortgages and card debt, and used it to buy houses and cars and electric guitars and designer clothes and holidays in ghastly places and so on and so forth.

And on most of those transactions, the government took a little slice of the pie in tax.

And while this led to a huge explosion in the sale of crap people didn't especially need at markups they couldn't really justify, it was accompanied by a diligent refusal to build enough homes for the people to live in.  So the laws of supply and demand kicked in, and the price of a place to live went up, and up, and up.  Even though they were the same crappy houses they had always been, only a bit older and more tumbledown than when you bought them, so should surely be decaying in value.

And each time one of those homes swapped hands for a pretend amount of money the government took a slice of the pie in tax.  And they did the same with the booming sales of fancy tat.  And the tax revenue blossomed and kept going up, so the government went to the money markets which act like its own equivalent of the nice man at the bank who will fix you a mortgage for 125% of what your house is worth, and the government said: the money's bound to come in, lend us another fiver til payday.

And then one day - about the same time as the iPad made a lot of the consumer tat history by replacing plastic tat with virtual tat - someone in a queue at Northern Rock cried out loud enough: this is bollocks this. Where is all the money you're pretending exists?

And the banks admitted: we don't have it. We were hoping it would come in from these amazing houses that just get better and better the more old and decrepit they get.

And the government admitted: we don't have it. We were relying on the money coming in from all the houses and other crap that the people pretending to have money were pretending was worth a lot.  Because a nice slice of a lot of money is a nice bit of cash, and so long as no-one asked any questions we reckoned we'd probably be OK, or the other lot would be in office by then which is even better as no-one ever asks who was in power when the whole thing began.

And the people said: we don't have it. We were relying on the house prices going up and that the bills would come down over time, even though the bills are all kind of tied to the price of oil which is in general just going to go up and up as it runs out.

The banks said: it wasn't our fault, we had to compete with each other, and no-one was made to take out a loan, they just all chose to because they wanted shiny things.

The government said: it wasn't our fault, we only did what the voters all wanted in their own short-term selfish interest, because getting elected and hang the consequences was in our own short-term selfish interest.

So everyone was humungously fucked.

And as the imaginary money dried up, the government found it had been spending money in advance that it hoped to get in one day, which it would now definitely not get, and had been spending imaginary money that it was getting in that now dried up as the whole emperor's new clothes saga came unstuck.  The money that it needed for all the nice things it wanted to give its voters tomorrow had already been spent yesterday.

And the people divided into three camps.  The first camp said: "we never joined in this whole pretend money stuff, though we did kind of benefit from how the cheap money helped keep down the price of taxis and food and subsidised the council tax".  The second camp said: "we joined in this whole pretend money stuff, and it all seems a bit silly now, but we all got ourselves into this mess so we are all going to have to try and get out of it". And the third camp said: "why should we have to stop having nice things, just because there was never any money to pay for the nice things and the money that ought to be paying for the basics today is money we already spent years ago on having nice things? It's so unfair! We blame the banks and we blame the government and we blame anyone who isn't us because nice things are nice and someone else should have to pay for us having them."

And so we get to where we are now, with a tanked economy that isn't the fault of the bankers or the people or the government or business or the unions, but is the fault of almost everyone collectively as just about all of you joined in the pretence that got us here, and even the few who didn't benefited from some of the upsides.

Yet just as it's always popular to blame bad times on immigrants or The Gays or colour television, there's a massive denial movement going on.

Right at the moment it's manifesting itself in amazing playground bully tactics as people who can't get their heads around fairly simple maths, linear time or cause-and-effect gang up to blockade high street banks.  Not the big investy institutions which every bit as responsible for the mess as the protestors are themselves: no, the high street banks, the ones where you pop in to deposit your wages or ask for a cheque book so you can send your nephew a tenner for Christmas and have less chance of a shifty postie swiping it for themselves.  Where there's a loans clerk who helped the farrago errupt, but also four tellers who help you change your holiday pounds into euros and transfer your savings into your current account when your washing machine blows up.

What's frustrating is the thought that "UK Uncut" - alas a political front for preserving the power base of those who have hogged the money, power and influence for decades - could develop its limited analysis of what's gone wrong. Instead it has either been highjacked by playground bullies, or else that is all it ever contained. 

Stopping people going into their local bank will not change the past.  It won't change much about what happens now.  It can't raise the profile of the whole issue any higher than is already the case - we all know the economy has tanked and that it's particularly broken here where the state is about a trillion in debt and the people are another three trillion in debt and turning it around is going to be hideously painful whoever is given the role.

Stopping people going into their local bank will, however, mean people's wages dont go in, bills don't get paid, and overdrafts run up higher charges.  The government won't get hurt. The banks won't get hurt. Individual people on low pay or no pay will get fucked over.

That's who UK Uncut has decided needs to hurt. The poor, the workers on long hours, the unemployed trying to juggle things to keep their heads above water.

If there was ever any doubt, let's be clear. They are acting solely in the interests of the established order, neutralising our frustrations with fake targets.  Compared to the 1930s they've learned to not blame it on The Jewish Bankers but to blame it on The Bankers. The scapegoating bollocks is exactly the same otherwise in its scapegoatyness and its bollocksmithery.

UKuncut. BNP, UKIP, call it what you will. It's a neofascist ruse and it's sucked in some well-meaning people along with a bunch of spoiled playground bullies who only ever wanted to cause pain for those around them.