I wanted to put some ideas out there about various aspects of our everyday lives, aspects that maybe we take for granted, but which could disintegrate before our eyes, or render us helpless to determine our own destiny. I hope to make this a mini series of questions about currently topical subjects to provoke thought around alternatives and what the World might look like, when you are stood looking back at the box!
The first 'what if' that occurred to me, has been the eerily quite aftermath of the Cypriot bail out! There are many ways that you could look at this, but in a basic form, didn't the Cypriot Government steal money from savers to leverage more borrowing from the EU banking stability fund (i.e. Germany, Austria, Sweden Finland etc.). When you look at it in this way, it all seems a bit imperialist rather than a cosy democracy!
Is Cyprus now any better off? Well not really it's limping along with several holes below the waterline, no one really wants to invest, expenditure will continue to creep back up again. either as benefits increase or attempted growth measures. In the meantime, tax revenues continue to stagnate or fall and eventually this beautiful island will find the economic buffers again! I would suggest that when this happens, a second round of account dipping will not be an option!
The 'what if' comes in two parts, they take the form of; what if it happened to us and what if we weren't prepared to sit idly by and accept it?
In the case of Cyprus the statements were all well prepared and rehearsed, because the governments and the bankers have the figures in front of them a long time before we do. We were told that the Cypriot economy was small and vulnerable to the global recession, that they had a burgeoning bureaucracy and that they had failed to move with the economic drumbeat, which is all pretty well true, as it is of many established democracies! We were also told lots of those horrible rich Russians were hiding their money in accounts there and that it would serve them right (but not as nasty as Mubarak and some other despotic leaders to whom, we pander for their wedge!). So in essence, they were pretty poor excuses for stealing money from the vast majority of honest, hard working and law abiding citizens!
As I said, Cyprus in not alone in this particular basket, Ireland is still there, more or less flat lining, as is Spain, Portugal and probably Italy too. We can't be sure about Belgium, because no one seems to have been in charge for some time and Slovenia has just asked if it can try the basket for size as well! In each case, all of these countries have sworn that they will not do the same as happened in Cyprus, but now that it has happened and a precedent has been set, hands up all those who believe them!
If you've got your hand up, you may be excused, you probably don 't need the money or you are already a politician!
And so, the second part of the question, are you prepared to step outside of the comfort zone? Rather than wait for things to get worse and for politicians to mess up and greedy banks to start snatching money that isn't theirs (as opposed to just inventing it against a future that can't pay), why not be a little pre-emptive?
There's never been a better time, with interest rates that low that saving is relatively pointless and banks piling on spurious charges to keep up their income! What if everyone started to pull their money out of all the large banks and place it in safes or small local building societies.
Banks have made it so convenient to spend money, one of the ways they get us to rack up debt in the name of growth, however in doing so we are totally losing control of OUR money! You know, the stuff that you work 40 hours for every week. What happens if they turn off the terminals and the ATM's, it might be your money, but you can't have it!!
Once you have regained control of your money, you will probably say to yourself, Hmmm, I a bit open to fraud, robbery and this is less convenient (which at this moment is true, but doesn't stop a lot of our population from still dealing in cash). You are somehow made to feel like a Luddite if you use real money, almost as if it is socially unacceptable, I wonder why?
Once enough of us have control of our money, there's a deal to be done! With the Internet at our disposal, why not set up as your own personal bank and/or form co-operatives with your friends? This is already happening with the likes of Paypal and EBAY, but it could be so much more, if were open, legally founded and operated for the benefit of you, as opposed to greedy fat cat CEO's and shareholders.
What of the banks? Well would you care, if you didn't need one?!! They only support their rich friends and dodgy politicians, so it might even help clean up our democracy, double bubble, and its mine all mine (although I might put some of it to a socially just use)!