Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the UK published an op-ed in yesterday’s Telegraph about the current financial crisis. He attempted to soothe the fears of Her Majesty’s subjects with the usual boilerplate and bromides…
Actually, this stuff would need a mass injection of originality to rise even to the level of cliché. Consider the first paragraph:
Like most of you, I have come from a family that values hard work and that brought me up to take responsibility and appreciate the importance of enterprise. For generations my father’s family worked the land as farmers and many Browns still do. So it’s hardly surprising that I believe in markets, competition and rewarding creativity and effort.
If you’re like me, your eyelids started to droop and you began to snore halfway through the second sentence. However, I recommend that you drink a strong cup of coffee, tape your eyelids open, and continue to hack your way through the dense undergrowth of the PM’s prose.
A little further along you’ll find this:
And while action is now being taken to rectify the financial weaknesses of our banks and institutions, we must now also act decisively to uphold and apply the fundamental values which can shape a stronger economy and fair society of the future.
This is not something that can be guaranteed by more and more intrusive regulation — it is about upholding three key ethics in public policy and across the public arena.
OK, this is good. Even though this is a Labour government, it’s opposed to more intrusive regulation. That’s a nice change. How refreshing.
But what is Mr. Brown’s proposed solution?
– – – – – – – – –
Markets work best when underpinned by an ethic of fairness. The institutions of the market place need to be founded on the ethic of stewardship. And this new interdependent global economy cannot work for the world’s people without an ethic of cooperation.
Firstly, the ethic of fairness means we reward hard work, thrift, enterprise, effort and responsible risk taking, but refuse to condone or reward irresponsible or excessive risk taking. We celebrate those who profit from creativity and hard work but not those who make reckless gambles with other people’s money.
Oh-oh. Now it’s getting a little dodgy: an ethic of fairness… an ethic of cooperation… responsible risk taking…
He’s got a lot of brass talking about ethics, coming from one of the most ethically-challenged governments in the entire history of British parliamentary democracy.
And how about “those who make reckless gambles with other people’s money”? Who might those chaps be, eh? Some bloated plutocrats in the City, perchance?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer never played any funny games with other people’s money, did he?
But we’ll let all that slide. We’ll forgive and forget. Mr. Brown wants to help all those poor proles hurt by the profligacy of the greedy sots who run the world’s major financial institutions.
So how is he going to do it?
That’s why, for example, a new Financial Services Authority code of conduct will make long-term success the basis for bonuses in the future.
A new Financial Services Authority, with a code of contact. Which will somehow operate without more intrusive regulation.
What’s Newspeak for “gimme a break”?
So somehow we’ve managed to returned to the standard Labour tag line: the Government Is Here To Take Care Of You.
Fairness means that in these tougher and difficult times where there is a risk of hard-working families being hit by unemployment originating in global forces well beyond our shores, we have a duty to act with urgency. So we are extending our new deal for jobs.
Where there is a threat to enterprising small businesses — the lifeblood of our national prosperity — we must be there to help with new support in accessing credit. Where people make the effort to save for a home of their own, we must do what we can to assist by getting the housing market moving again.
Secondly, the ethic of stewardship must restore to all financial institutions their public purpose. All boards need to proceed on the basis the best companies do already: that when people start a new business or save up for a wedding or for Christmas they are investing not just their cash in the bank but also their hopes and dreams.
Quite simply: banks are unique because they are stewards of the people’s money. That’s why we have acted not just to stabilise the banking system, but to ensure that financing is passed on in turn to small businesses and families who want to get on with ordinary life in these extraordinary times: banks doing what banks were built to do and the best banks have always done.
Let’s get this straight: a devastating financial crisis caused by massive government intervention and corruption at the highest levels of public administration is to be solved by…
More government intervention!
More action at the highest levels of public administration!
Why does this not fill me with confidence for the future fiscal well-being of the average Briton?
Interestingly enough, the British public is not necessarily buying such a load of codswallop this time around. Make sure you read the comments below the Prime Minister’s screed; they are vastly entertaining. Many of them are not fit to reproduce on a family site like this one, but they are well worth reading.
My personal favorite is this one:
Brown, you need to read the post from mike williams in Bangkok on October 18, 2008 7:41 AM. After you’ve read it call for the manservant to bring in your revolver.
Why don’t you, for once in your miserable life, do the honourable thing.
Posted by I loathe thieving socialist scum on October 18, 2008 7:14 PM
But treat yourself and read them all. There’s nothing quite like the fine art of British invective.
All this makes me wonder: if the current British government can bring its citizens to this level of seething outrage, how much more will they take? Why hasn’t there already been a revolution?
Hat tip: Gaia.