I've been waking up at about 4.30 am the last few nights and feeling mild pangs of anxiety and dread. This is unusual for me, as I am a natural optimist - normally too optimistic for my own good.
I've managed - I think - to locate from where these negative emotions are springing from, and it seems to be all about the 'recession'. The media is full of cautious reports that signs of a bottoming-out are being spotted; I have enough work to see most people through about a year (in terms of income) and I don't have a luxurious life-style; I am enjoying all of my other pastimes and persuits (despite the lack of edible fungi) and I have made plans which will only come to fruition a year from now. The trouble is, the clocks go back this weekend, and Nick Griffin was on 'Question Time' last night.
The thing with monetary recessions is not so much to do with actual cash (there was never any real cash to start with anyway), but more about the fact that scum always rises to the surface, and it's extremely difficult to filter it out. Thing thing I most detest about the people who have exploited the system which has allowed this crash to happen is not so much about the way they have taken other peoples hard-earned money away from them, it is that they have - in doing so - damaged society and our cultural development so badly, that it will never be properly repaired in my life-time. This is why they are social scum, not because they've snitched a few quid from the piggy bank.
It doesn't matter how soon the banks take to recover and return to their old selves (not that they have ever shown the slightest hint of remorse to date), the downward trend in social and cultural values and traditions has only just begun, and the bankers and managers do not give the slightest toss, just so long as their bonuses are protected along with the share-holder's dividends. The 'wealth-creators', as Thatcher erroneously dubbed them.
Although I found it mildly irritating that - prior to this crash - I could only receive a maximum of about 4% on any pitiful savings I might have had, and be charged about 28% on any pitiful amount I borrowed, I just thought 'oh well, that's the way it works'. Now they have the perfect opportunity to turn the tables and give us 1/2 % on the contents of our piggy banks, and continue to up the interest rates on borrowing, at the same time as stubbornly refusing to use public money to help struggling but potentially successful small businesses, despite being commanded to do so by Gordon Brown - the lackey that they put in place in the form of Tony Blair, who spent about a year going around the world, licking the backsides of big businessmen prior to election.
Banks used to charge about £30 to send you a letter saying that you had exceeded your overdraft limit by £1, and slap another fee on top of that, bringing the total up to about £60 per £1 transgression. They reluctantly stopped doing quite that recently, and now charge £12 per letter (plus fees) - that being the maximum recommended penalty. That's what they call 'self regulation', as it was never mandatory, but only fought with a few test-cases in court. They reckoned that it was cheaper to only charge £12 in the first place, rather than going to the expense of fighting every claim in the future. But guess what? They've found other ways of milking the poor.
I received a letter from my bank the other day saying that 'to make life simple for me', I would be charged a flat rate of £1 per day on an overdraft of £600. That's £365 per year by my calculation, if I find myself in straightened circumstances due to their greed and ineptitude. That's an interest rate of almost 60% per annum (also by my calculation, which is way out - it's more like 100's %. There has just been a 'Money Box' program highlighting this outrageous move by the Halifax and encouraging people to move their account), and that's before they start charging you for any private debt-collectors they have bought in to come around knocking at your door and eyeing up the furniture.
There's going to have to be quite a few golden handshakes over the next couple of decades before we can expect to see any funding for that little arts centre in the East-End, I think.