Label gun to the head.
I’ve tried to develop a rule. A rule about getting angry with people. One that sounds nifty and sensible, but which I find falls over immediately when it comes face to face with a particular group of people. Or my actual moral capacity.
Now, before embarking on my rank banking rant, the real detail of interest here is that, whatever I may think, I evidently feel the need to deploy the phrase ‘group of people’.
Ah, nothing feels better when you’re on your inexplicably high (and presumably wobbly) horse than to herd a group of people together and jab a finger at them repeatedly.
“THERE! THERE they are. THEY. THEM. OVER THERE. LOOK, LOOK AT THEM, all there with their, their… bloody whassnames and their, their… ruddy THINGS. JEER. JEER AT THEM.”
It’s just so much simpler.
Somewhere in the honest light of this, my clever and upright-sounding rule about losing one’s rag with someone clears its throat and meekly says this: that I should, in the heat of disagreement, take care not to label the disagree-ee with my accusations and colourful judgements.
I mean, to me there’s a difference between shouting at someone that they have been acting like something unmentionable, and shouting at someone that they are something unmentionable. Despite the fact that you’ve clearly mentioned it very loudly.
If you’ve gotten to the stage where you really are actually shouting at someone, then you’ve probably already entered the taped-off room labeled Academic Arguments, when it comes to exactly how you’re framing the tense of your abuse as you pick up the chair.
But it’s a detail of internal perspective that seems important, because it may govern how you or I see and therefore treat those around us.
..And then. JUST when you think you have those around you treated jolly well – with a friendly hello in the baker’s (if you’re in the mood), or an occasional Big Issue purchase (if you haven’t already crossed the street because you didn’t want to break a tenner), or an effusive thankyou to a friend who’s just cooked you a free slap-up meal (after moaning before arriving about having to turn out that night) – along come some bloody, ruddy, depraved, soulless, evil, murdering bankers.
Arrived with the sole purpose of upsetting your nice moral equilibrium. The bastards.
Why I’m so hot under the collar about the banking system I have no idea. I can barely work Sage or send the occasional invoice. It’s not like I understand a thing the markets are going on about. And our household and business has fared okay over the last year. I have not a thing to actually complain about.
But really. With so many millions of people across the world in debt up to their receding hairlines because we’ve all been encouraged to keep spending like the dialysis machine will implode if we don’t, the corporate banking sector seems willfully disconnected from the rest of humanity.
Ah. And there. How stealthy is the private human urge to segregate – to create Them and Us. We can so nearly blame The Bankers for segregating themselves. Can’t we? Can’t we?
In a year of calamitous financial cock-ups that bared to all the wildly childish level of responsibility that the current, laxly-regulated global banking culture seems to stimulate, the Clever Chaps At The Top Who We Desperately Need To Retain With Reasonable Incentives – and who incidentally CAUSED the apparent near-collapse of all we pinned our fiscal hopes to – decide to keep paying themselves EXTRA payments on top of their bulging salaries. In the full glare of the media. Of us little people judging them. Jabbing our bony, underfed fingers at them.
They don’t appear to care. Or they really don’t see. Which are sort of the same thing.
Or, I suspect more realistically, none of the people closely involved in this whole tedious drama quite has the courage to challenge things so fundamentally. I’d be nervous. And selfishly so.
I mean, here’s the point: Mercs are like, really comfortable in the back. And nicely soundproofed. You can really feel lulled to slumber in there. I’m not sure I’d want to be woken up. Would you?
I found myself ranting on Twitter this morning in the sort of annoying way that ruins your followers’ feeds with endless repetitions of your tedious icon. For the record, here are those tweets:
I’m not in Davos, just to be clear. Much as the banking heads of Earth implored me to come and tell them again how angry they make us all.
Eloquent as my Davos speech would have been, peppered with colourful oaths and gathering purpleness of face, I fear pearls to swine.
If a group of vulgarly well-paid adults with saturated access to 24hour news media can’t sense the need for SOME symbolic gestures…
ONE year. Just ONE year without bonuses. Everyone in banking – one year. The one where people are losing jobs and businesses are folding.
Is it so hard – to give up one year of EXTRA money? Is solidarity or just seemliness incomprehensible to senior banking culture? Apparently.
Use one year’s bonuses across the banking sector to wipe the debts of others. Go on. Try to get your heads around that. Just ONE year.
“We must retain the brightest talent with disproportionately, offensively large additional payments.” Really? Go on, really?
Banks want to attract and retain soullessness, do they? What else would a clear dependency on bonus cash at any cost do to people?
Sack the top tier of bankers. If they can’t function for a humble year – a year now gone already – without bonus, lose them. Why not?
Well, yes – why not? Have a spring clean. Promote from within. Warn the new guys not to break the banking system this time, but let them have a go. A healthy step up for these chaps could still cost way less than the bloated funds pouring through the coffers of some top individuals at the moment, and they might have a few new ideas. Make the generation above sweat a little. That’s capitalism, baby.
I’m an idiot. Which means I not only do not understand these things, I am also far too comfortable with failure. So, y’know – do not take my advice about anything.
But a wise-sounding wit I used to work with once said something to the effect of this: When a task you’re hopeless at gets taken from you, it’s just a relief, isn’t it?
Ah, how I sit in the studio and soberly ponder this every day.
Don’t strike the Banking Bastards from society. Don’t write them off as humans. Invite them back into the group. Coax them back from There to Here. Relabel their foreheads from Them to Us. Then lower the label gun.
Just, for the love of all that’s sensible, make some of them stop banking.