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Wednesday, 15 October 2008

This finance thang

I can only speak for myself, here in the UK, but it would be interesting to know how others feel elsewhere. I make no claims to be an economics expert - I am just an ordinary person trying to survive in a country which seems to be going, rather rapidly, to the wall. My problem at the moment is this financial bail out of private companies, viz the banks, which is being called 'nationalisation'.

This is MY money being spent as a taxpayer, and although figures differ substantially, if you take the lowest one of £37billion, it is still way more than the figures to give every single home and premises in the UK all singing, all dancing FTTH, just to bail out 3 companies - RBS, the HBOS Group, and Lloyds TSB.

Between them, these 3 companies appear to have been responsible for driving thousands and thousands of normal British citizens into debt with bank charges. None of the other banks are immune from responsibility for this either, and there are staggering amounts of money which have been claimed back through the courts and out of court settlements, and many millions more yet to be claimed.

So, to me, as one of those claimants, who was driven to near penury by these companies, and still am, I feel more than just a tad dischuffed (read: bloody fuming!) that our money is being spent on sorting out a mess which a combination of corporate greed, mismanagement, and probably short-sighted stupidity has brought upon themselves.

Especially when that money could be spent on FTTH instead, and used to give approx 20+million premises (ie homes) the chance of becoming business premises. The opportunities FTTH could bring are enormous. As the numbers of jobless rise, it seems to me that each and every citizen in this country could potentially create their own business in the knowledge economy if they just had half a chance to engage in it. So, for the sake of 3, we sacrifice the chance of millions of new businesses. Many maybe would fail, but we could at least give them the chance.....

Not only has this Government failed (and continues to fail, judging by my children's current IT lessons at school) to educate the British populace so they are cybersavvy and able to operate online to the same level as many other countries' nationals are, but there are also an alarming number of 'disconnecteds' still. And it is likely to remain that way whilst there is a policy of allowing the 'competitive marketplace' to drive how and when we are connected to anything approaching a next gen network. (And I stand by my belief that FTTC is definitely not 'next gen').

The short-term gain of bailing out the banks is likely to be completely overwhelmed by the approaching pension crisis (which seems totally unavoidable in my lifetime - unless I die very young). Yet, the housing and mortgage problems appear to have been solved in a single action of ceasing to allow people to borrow any more than 90% of the value of a property during this latest economic 'downturn', and the misery that some are now suffering as they struggle to pay their mortgages could have been avoided entirely had that been adopted far earlier. Or the banks, in their greed, had not been allowed to lend people MORE than the value of their homes.

Similarly, the inevitable cock up that bailing the banks out is likely to turn into without firing all those responsible for it, making them pay up out of their over-inflated pensions and bonuses for the mess, and insisting that there is a major paradigm shift in how the banking and finance world operates, is likely, in the end, to lead to yet more suffering for the ordinary person. We, as the electorate and tax payers are hardly likely to see some fantastic payback from allowing the government to spend our money in this way.

And certainly not the payback we could have seen if this money had been spent on boosting the economy with future-proof communications, rather than bolstering an ailing economy (ie the financial services which appears, to an outsider, to be built on sand, 1s and 0s and greed). Were half the people who I know on benefits able to escape the ridiculous and disheartening downward spiral that our benefits system creates, and set up home-based businesses using the wide variety of knowledge and experience each of them possesses, the UK economy could actually see a turnaround.

In the meantime, most of us will, it seems, just have to sit back and watch the Post Offices close (they were losing small change compared to the banks), drown our sorrows at home as the pubs shut (3 this week in our remote rural area alone), that is if we can find a village shop still open to buy the booze from, and pray like hell we can get ourselves and our kids out of this country before the shit really hits the fan.

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