The real deep-seated cause of Brexit and what to do about it
By Robert Woodward: The banking industry – ‘financial services’ as they like to call it is still playing the same old sorry song and the democratic West is paying the price – none more so than Britain.
The banks continue to mistreat trapped customers as if they needed none of them whilst their executives pocket bonuses based on how successful their crimes pay off. Banks in the western world are still being fined left, right and centre, year in – year out for their continual egregious and illegal behaviour. It’s business as usual for them.
The fines they get are considered nothing more than the cost of doing business – a bit like a transactional tax. But for the rest of us, the banks have caused the entire democratic world to shift its political position as disillusionment with government-imposed austerity continues to cause an immense sense of injustice. It is that injustice that people have had enough of.
The banks have a lot to answer for. From rip off fees and widespread inappropriate treatment of customers – and that’s when they are being nice – to theft, corruption and money laundering for gangsters, gun-runners, despots, traffickers and more. You name it – if it’s a crime the banks have profited from it. Trillions of untaxed money sit in off-shore centres. In fact, it was estimated back in 2012 that over $32 trillion has evaded any tax contribution to the nations where they extract their wealth through the services of the banks and their army of facilitators. You can only imagine how much that has grown since then.
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Their crimes are so great that ten years after the collapse of the banking industry, saved by what can only be described as the biggest exercise in global socialism in history, when taxpayers ended up saving their rotten carcases, the result has seen the beginning of the end of the greatest political movement ever – social democracy.
For the seven decades that followed the last world war, social democracy has brought all sorts of benefits. Correctly managing the elements of capitalism and socialism, whilst containing their extremes has been hugely successful. But it has failed in recent years – neoliberal capitalism, espoused by Thatcher and Raegan got out of control due to deregulation.
That failure led to the peak greed, demonstrated no better than the collapse of the bankers’ bets gone wrong in 2008.
Governments all over the Western world, including Britain’s own, concluded that the only way of saving them was to apply ‘austerity’ – in other words, to reduce the money being spent on the neediest and most vulnerable and working up from there. Poverty in all its forms steadily increased. The middle classes are now shrinking faster than ever before as more and more are forced onto the welfare state – itself being dismantled.
Austerity is the ideological face of institutional discrimination and injustice and in this, the banks have caused unbelievable damage to the fabric of the democratic world.
The rise of the far-right is, without doubt, the result of public anger over austerity. Citizens all over America and Europe are rising up against a political system that has failed them. And although they have been failed, it was the banks that caused the problem in the first place and the governments that failed to act against their crimes.
Populists like Farage, Trump, LePen and their ilk simply capitalise on these very real worries and fears. They always bring on a scapegoat, like immigrants and people swallow it hook, line and sinker as they desperately seek for someone to solve their dissolving life chances.
The injustice of bankers making billions from casino operations that went wrong is still an open festering wound a decade later. And how many of them went to prison or even lost their jobs? Almost none.
And when it comes to injustice, here are a few (of many) examples of why the general public is becoming more and more hostile to the status quo in Britain.
- Eighty people a month die after being declared fit for work (and therefore not eligible for certain state benefits) by the current government (source).
- Thousands of women are forced into survival sex to pay for food and shelter (source).
- The government spent £120m fighting appeals for people rightly able to claim benefits – and lost nearly three-quarters of their cases (source).
- 1.6 million people needed to use food banks in Britain last year alone (source).
- 120,000 unnecessary deaths linked to ‘economic murder’ (source).
- The planned destruction of the welfare state (source).
There are many individual cases that brings these stories of social injustice to light – such as the man with a broken back who killed himself after being found ‘fit for work’ by a government department (source) or the 55-year-old homeless woman caught on CCTV begging for money outside a shop in Llandudno who was then jailed for six weeks (source).
Then more widely, there’s the housing crisis, the health crisis, the NHS staff crisis, the social care crisis, the homelessness crisis, the pensions crisis, the savings crisis – in fact, the crisis of daily life for four million adults who work for a living but can’t afford to live. Then there’s 1 in 4 children who live in poverty – on target to be 2 in 4 in a decade – the list of social collapse is never-ending. And all of it is in the name of austerity as delivered by a government, who, as a result of their handling of the nation are now disintegrating at every level imaginable.
Britain is in this mess because of a failure to deliver basic social justice at its source. The social contract has been broken. It is a dramatic failure of the highest order for a British government.
Witnessing some of the wealthiest people pay nothing to the societies where they made their money is damaging – but having the owners of social media organisations rub that salt deeply into those wounds of those suffering the most by the technologies that made them billionaires just makes it very much worse. It’s a depressing cycle.
If you can be sent to prison for having no money to buy food and begging outside a store, then there is no sense of real justice left. Farage, Trump and co – have not said they can fix these problems – but they are part of that problem in the first place if you care to look where they made their own money.
Is it any wonder then, that the British, weary of the destruction brought to them, their families and communities that they would now vote for a ‘strongman’ an authoritarian to actually do something to save them from the misery they experience.
In Britain, we would do well to impose this sense of social justice – and start by rounding up the architects of market manipulation, drug and terror finance money laundering operations, foreign exchange rate manipulation, interest rate rigging, pensions scandals, mortgage scams and the like and throwing them in prison having confiscated their ill-gotten gains and handed them back to the treasury. This is what happens to anyone else caught in fraud cases that go to court.
When that’s done, moving onto to cleaning up Britain’s dire, antiquated political system that is barely now a democracy – no longer fit for the 21st century or the people it is supposed to serve should be next. Then, and only then would a sense of social justice start to emerge and we can get back to considering how Britain should prepare itself for the challenges of being a proper country in a rapidly changing world environment and not wasting energy on the ideas of fantasists with aspirations of an empire long gone.
Robert Woodward is an investigative journalist and contributing editor to TruePublica