Daily archives: December 5, 2009

Pity He Wasn’t A Banker

“It’s hard to put into words how bad I feel right now. I’m in my 40s now and I’ve been at Corus since I left school. I’m a single parent with a daughter at university and one at home. Of course they are worried – and so are thousands of other families. I fear the future. I’ve got a mortgage to pay and I’m worried that I’ll end up losing my home.”

Michael Shepherd


Had he been a banker, of course, he would keep his job, benefiting from 150 billion pounds of taxpayers’ moner actually paid out and the surety of a further 700 billion that the taxpayer has “agreed” to stump up to underwrite his job if necessary. If he were a banker, he would still get his multi-million pound bonus and his daughters’ lives would be gilded.

I am typing this on a keyboard which was not made by a banker. It rests on a desk which was not built by a banker. I am sitting on a chair which was not made by a banker, which rests on floor tiles not made by bankers, resting on a concrete and steel reinforced floor not built by bankers in a house of similar construction. I have to hand a sausage sandwich – the pigs were not reared by bankers and the wheat was not grown by bankers, and a cup of coffee – the beans were not grown by bankers, the milk was not from banker raised cattle, the water was not purified by a banker, the sugar cane was not cut by a banker. The clay was not dug by a banker nor the kiln fired by a banker. None of it was brought to this spot and assembled or constructed by a banker.

Bankers act as middlemen for the finanical transactions that enable people working with real goods to process the flows of payment. They also enable corporate entities to gamble, most of those gambles coming down to a bet on the future value of real goods. For this they get a cut.

Fair enough. But as a simple man, it is hard for me to understand how these enabling middlemen are infinitely superior to the people actually doing things in the real economy, to the extent that the middlemen may never be allowed to fail. It also looks pretty plain that, if they failed and went bust because they were no good, new paople would step in to do the same job, as they have for thousands of years.

There is no rationale beyond power, influence and a corrupt political system that sees hundreds of billions of pounds from ordinary families pumped in to keep failed bankers very rich, whereas not even the 0.0003% (that tiny fraction is 50 million pounds) of the bank bailout money paid out so far, can be spared to keep Corus going on Teeside through the downturn.

Nobody in Whitehall will give a second’s thought to Mr Shepherd’s daughters. Their dad is only a steelworker. It’s not like they’re bankers or anything.

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