Friday, 23 October 2009

The Bean-Shoots of Recovery

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.


  1. So that's the catch with the new Halifax overdraft scam. I remember that when Sky so called porn channels started they always used to quote you how much it cost per day... "Only 99p a day" they would scream at you on their preview slots. Hmm... not bad I thought... and supposedly you could see the real action when you had subcribed to TVXX... Well... what a bloody disappointment it was. And was it good value? Well, it would have been if you wanted to watch the stuff every night... but in practice of course I didn't and in effect it actually cost about £15 per hour of viewing. Where was I? Oh yes... the Halifax scam... hmm... time to move banks methinks.

  2. Yep - I've shifted my millions from the Halifax to a bank which has yet to disgrace itself, though it is bound to in the not so distant future, I fear.

    Like I say, I REALLY do not mind them raiding my piggy-bank, but when they try and shaft young students, or the really poor - just for the sake of keeping investors happy, at the same time as giving two fingers to the government who have given them 48 BILLION of public money to help small business and old-aged savers - then I'm afraid there is only one word for them.

    They are absolute, fucking cunts.

  3. I really ought to qualify the last comment. For a start, 'absolute, fucking cunts' is three words, and for that I sincerely apologise.

    Secondly, the real iniquity of the defence of the bonus system, is that it relates not just to the fat cats on the upper management level, but to the poor, innocent tellers as well - some of whom I have dealt with for over 20 years, since I first opened an account with Halifax.

    The tellers may only be paid around £14000 a year, and the bonus system is used for them also, so that they can bring their wages up to a reasonable level, commensurate with their age, length of service and general use to the company. This in itself is an absolute disgrace, and has more to do with 'tipping' of waiters than a fair wage for a good job done. The upper management (who change with the wind) justify the bonus system on these grounds, as if their 6 figure ones bear any relation to the minions that they have absolutely no contact with at all, and I feel genuinely sorry for those on the floor of the bank. They are good, hard working people who are forced to try to sell you unwanted insurance, purely in order to hit targets set by the cunts who control our lives and finances.

  4. UPDATE: I received a 'letter' from the Halifax, saying that they did not give a toss about the new overdraft charges - or words to that effect, and NOW I know why they have been so unforthcoming about commenting on their new, innovative scheme in public:

    Not only did they keep the small matter of a £60 billion pound, private loan a little quiet in order to receive a further £48 billion from the government, they were also awaiting the decision from the High Court which today ruled that a cap on the overdraft charges made by the Department of Trade and Industry, is unlawful, and millions of pounds of unreasonable charges levied on the poorer of their customers will not - as previously thought - have to be repaid by them.


    Is there no limit to the depths that these institutions will sink in order to save their stinking skins?


    Today, on R4 news, it was announced that the board of RBS were considering resigning in protest at the proposal to cap their bonus's, and they will not be the only bank to threaten to do this.

    So it is true: They would rather see the British economy completely destroyed than suffer a slight downturn in their luxurious life-styles.