Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Greed

March 23rd, 2011

Greed isn’t good. But it is the reason why social systems based on the equality of the individual simply never work out. Falter and fail. Falling victim to a deeply rooted human trait. And, whilst the West pursues prudence, struggling to recover from earlier excesses, the material world is flourishing Down Under. For now.

Every opportunity taken to make a quick buck. Nothing free. Everything costs. Inclusive rapidly fading from the Australian lexicon. And the consumer pays. Reluctantly maybe. But it makes no difference. Recent floods and cyclones seen by some simply as a convenient justification for further price hikes. Not simply passing on genuine, unavoidable, additional cost. Extra profit as well. Boundaries between opportunity and exploitation blurred.

For now at least, the country seems as awash with money as precipitation in Queensland. But it can’t rain forever. Even here. Dry season looms. And so for the economy. Shades of the UK. A few years before the financial downturn. If people here do sense the inevitable, no one wants to talk about it. To peer into the precipice. Preferring instead to make the most of it while they can. It’ll all end in tears. Always does.

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From afar

October 4th, 2010

He spoke excellent English. His was a fast growing economy, but what of mine, he enquired? Chinese television painted a fairly grim picture. So I sought to explain….

“Something has to be done. There at least seems to be general agreement on this point. But as for what that something is, well, that’s the first stumbling block. Most blame the previous administration racking up a huge deficit. So big they’ve had to divide it into chunks. For example, there’s what they now call the structural bit. The part that never goes away, unless you repay it. Some advocate doing just that, as you might were it your own credit card. Others argue spending more is the solution. You hope they haven’t got cards.

Even those who agree the debt should be repaid are divided on how quickly to do it. Those who argue for prompt repayment suggest it shows the markets we’re still credit worthy. So, presumably, we could borrow lots more money, and start all over again. Others are pushing for more gradual repayments, but as they were largely the ones that got us in the situation in the first place nobody’s listening to them.

A motley crowd of characters, claiming to represent the ordinary man, have sought to fill the vacuum. They seem to agree the problem’s someone else’s fault. Bankers mostly. Certainly not theirs. And whatever is to be done about it, that’s fine provided nothing actually changes. Pay, conditions, working practices, the usual stuff. It’s starting to look like a Greek tragedy…

They’d been the odd bold utterance from a senior public servant, a few politicians. Suggesting there might actually be some inefficiencies in the system. To be rooted out. Only to retract or diminish, offer profuse apologies, a day or so later.”

He looked baffled. And quite unimpressed. How could your Government let this happen? Time to return to the road I thought. Didn’t want to get bogged down in quantitative easing. Or fiscal stimulus. Not before lunch.

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