The fabric of Britain as we know it is being ripped apart. So much is changing, almost behind our backs, we haven't got time to notice what is happening to us. And it is happening fast.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Numbers to add up

So let's have a look at what these billions and trillions really mean. Most of us deal in singles and tens, or hundreds and thousands if we're well off. The billions & trillions of George Osborne's world tend not to register with us, except as "a lot".

One million hours ago was Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Long-distance telephone was in use.

One billion hours ago, people (homo sapiens) first walked the earth..

One trillion hours ago, South America was still joined to Africa; mammals began to appear.

One trillion is the amount of pounds we gave to British banks.

That's how much they cocked it up. That's how much Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, thinks we should just forget about and move on ... meanwhile, encouraging us to blame one another and take the punishment.

Barclays chief Bob Diamond - he of the £11.5m pay package - has been saying for the past year that "The time for remorse is over". Our Chancellor, it seems, agrees that multi-millionaires have no need to be sorry while we, the voters who pay his salary, should feel very remorseful. So much so, he's going to make damn sure we do ...

Click to see all
I tried making a chart to show the difference but a trillion is so huge, the other numbers didn't show up; not even the billion. Somebody's done a neat graphic representation here, using $100 notes for size.

The Bank of England put the bailout bill at £1trillion in 2009. There have been further bailouts since then. It's even more now.

£1trn. is £19,608 per UK adult (at 51m. in 2011). That's how much you gave.

Well played, Mr Diamond!
[pic: Daily Mail]
I want to clarify that I don't question the need for this bailout. I think it was a stopgap measure, but that's beside the point. Our economies at present depend on the banking system to 'create' wealth and, since nobody had their eye on the ball at the time, we'd little choice but to keep it in the air after some clumsy fool dropped it.

What I do mind, very much, is being told that I - and my neighbours, my elderly mum, the nephew going debt-ridden to university next year, the niece with a new baby, friends with disabilities and disabled children, the newly redundant and the families in my doctor's waiting room ... being told that WE cost too much and WE are greedy.

I resent being asked to give up the securities our parents fought so hard for, and which we have PAID for. Purely because our governors are blindsided by the wealthy.

Andrew Haldane, of the Bank Of England, said in February 2011 that the cost of the credit insurance we have collectively provided to our banks is worth £100bn a year. He bases this on 2009 figures so, with the way insurance premiums go, it would be worth at least £115bn now. That's roughly the entire cost of the NHS and half the welfare bill.

I mind that this premium is still unpaid, unasked-for and taken completely for granted. This year the big four banks will announce  profits of £24bn. That's not counting the billions of pounds paid in bonuses and bloated pay packages. HSBC will also announce an imminent move to Hong Kong, thus ensuring they'll never have to pay us back.

Recovery of unpaid mega-taxes would generate £95bn for our economy. All the banks, Vodafone, Philip Green and his 'Top Shop' group of companies, Boots, drinks giant Diageo and Tesco are among the worst offenders.  They made their money out of us - and now we're being asked to pay all over again.

Articles worth reading:
There Is An Alternative [PCS]
The Government's Line [UKuncut]
Targets [UKuncut] - These pages explain why they have chosen certain companies for attention.

What can I do?

If you're up for personal action, join UKuncut. Some of their protests are very imaginative and quite funny - it's worth finding their videos on YouTube.

Complain to HMRC by writing a letter online at 38degrees.
Join a Union.  Representing millions of ordinary people, they can and do make a difference.

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  1. It's worth mentioning how the bankers put their bonuses together. They're allowed to bring forward purely hypothetical future earnings and treat them as if they were real monies earned in the current year and grant themselves huge bonuses accordingly. As is so much with banking, this is a scam and should never have been made legal. So far as I'm aware there are no plans to end this practice nor is there any discussion about it.

  2. That is a really brilliant post, enabling me to visualise the numbers in a way I have never done before.

    The anger at the banks would be less if they had at least shown some thanks for it, rather than taking it and going back to business and boni as normal.

    I had never heard of that before. Can you explain about that, or point me in the direction of an article?

  3. Fantastic post. I struggle with understanding all the fiscal figures etc but that has clarified it beautifully.

    Bill, do you mean if I was in banking I could say potentially I'll earn a million next year so this year I'll take 10% of that plus my salary as a bonus? Surely not.

  4. Bertha, I've just looked up what Bill said about bonuses and it's true!!!

    I'm going to do another post about this (hopefully with Bill's help) but, according to the weird laws of banking, by saying "I will earn a million next year" they 'create' that million and so deserve the bonus ...

    ... Yep. The industry our economies depend on operates much like Wonderland. Mad hatters everywhere.

    Meanwhile, we simply have to stop those gutless clowns in Westminster feeding the insanity.

    Have a look at the New Economics Foundation and Positive Economics.

  5. Thanks Frothing. I clicked through to Bill's blog and was immersed in the Economics through the Ages post. It was fascinating.


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