Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Whadda We Want – stability, predictability, inequality reduction

While we prepare for the various political and financial crisis to end we should be waving the demand banners – Whadda We Want? Some of us hope for a broad progressive approach to life on this planet, but a fascist outcome is not unknown from these sort of crisis points.

Whadda progressives want?
  • Social and economic stability for a start. Perhaps not the ‘Ward Cleaver’ American brand of stability; replete as it was with destructive racist and other divisive views. There must be a brand of stability which does not require a weaker target of attack, particularly when we have greedy bastards to attack.

  • The second wish is for some form of social/economic equality. I’m not thinking of some unrealistic (surrealistic) dream where we are all equal, more a NIMBY approach without the robber barons in charge. Ok, that sounds like a form of benign apartheid, which might be a factor in clawing back some ‘humanity’ in our cultures.

None of that fits pithily on a hand penned placard, and would probably lead to another round of moronic book burning given that two longish paras now seem to constitute a book. It would make a dreadfully complex chant at the next march, but I have not yet reduced them to slogans of less than three words.

Selling a different mindset seems to me an important factor in crafting our new future. Mutualisation sums up the needed thinking to a degree, we are all essentially shareholders in our particular national economies – we need to act like it. The problem, of course, is finding the acceptable level of personal responsibility, the point where most people can actually understand the dynamics involved.

Under neo-liberalism most citizens have become de facto players in the markets, which is not a particularly fair way prepare for old age. If the professional players can’t figure the markets then what chance for the rest of us? But we do have a stake in our economies and not understanding the basics proves costly.

Australia is well versed in the concept of Mutualisation through our network of credit unions and building societies, the pillars of the non-banking back sector if you like. My great great grandfather actually helped establish some of these organisations back when Tasmania was still known as Van Diemen's Land. The idea of a quasi bank owned by its customers has survived well here.

I recall, many years ago, approaching my credit union for a desperate loan. The manager called me in, looked over his glasses, and asked: “You wrote this application, are you going to tell me, as a member of this credit union, we should take this risk?” The answer was fairly obvious. We should be understanding and doing the same things with our country.

Sure, once I got over the rejection, negotiating with creditors wasn’t easy or comfortable. I had over extended and had to work my way out of it. That probably brings us to a third essential reform, a recognition of personal responsibility. But that personal responsibility must be evident throughout the whole of society, not just the grafters in to lower 90%.


D.K. Raed said...

I guess I don't understand "mutualization" (see I had to americanize the spelling & I still don't get it). I get that we are all shareholders in our national economy, but draw the line at becoming a shareholder of Wall Street, which more and more seems to be valued on rumors and lies. As an investor, I wouldn't know how to find the true worth of a corporation when its shareprice is 100's of times its P/E ratio.

Hey, good on your gr-gr-grandah! And so sorry about your loan rejection. Many yrs ago, I went w/a friend to help him apply for one of those instant cash loans, which I knew he didn't qualify for. Somehow he thought my being there would sway things in his favor. I can still see the loan officer looking at the application, then looking at me & asking if I was going to co-sign. As I twitched my head slightly left/right (hoping my friend couldn't detect), the mgr made the appropriate head nod & rejected the app. He was correct to do so ... my friend was almost bankrupt.

Cart said...

Maybe I need Lindsay to explain mutualisation in a way you would recognise it.
But we are talking about those assets notionally owned by the 'people' - those people ruled for etc.

I accepted the loan refusal with a good deal of realistic understanding. It might have made immediate sense, though I doubt it. I expect taking the harder road was more beneficial in the end.

lindsaylobe said...

I started out commentating but it grew to the extent I decided on a post.
See my next post-Banking on the community
Best wishes