Thursday, 7 March 2013

Bankers, bureaucracy and blogs

Tweetdeck is my favourite twitter interface. It presents a cherry-tree of tantalising options, laid out on a continually updating grid. I like to survey my feeds as they scroll across the screen, dipping in and out of the informational foam before magisterially alighting on something promising.

On this occasion, alcohol was the trigger. I'm not drinking for Lent, so when a Guardian article popped up announcing we are all boozing and smoking much less than five years ago, I took the bait.

The article basically confirmed my suspicion that saying we're drinking less than we were five years ago is different from actually drinking less.

I reached the end of the piece, and instead of going back to my feeds, saw a link to a rant by  Simon Jenkins, bashing bankers. A 
couple of weeks ago I wrote about the government's attempts to scupper an EU directive limiting bankers' bonuses to 100% of their salaries. Jenkins tackles the same subject with furious, spluttering incredulity. It's a fine piece of work, but terribly (and possibly knowingly) simplistic. So I dipped into the 600+ comments for the counter-arguments.

Among the dross, some gems. The best broke the situation down into a social problem. It's not the bankers who are to blame: we all are, for buying into a cockeyed winner-takes-all system predicated on greed, consumption and owning stuff. It's a choice, and we went for demented free-market capitalism, rather than... say... morality, helping each other out and trying to leave the place more or less as we found it.

No matter how good the comments below any piece are, I always feel like I'm wallowing in vitriol, but before I clicked out, something shiny caught my eye. One commenter had linked to a hilarious pamphlet published in 2007 by a pair of senior free-market Conservatives. It decried the dead hand of state intervention and pervading evil of regulation thus:

"Government claims that this regulation is all necessary. They seem to believe that without it banks could steal our money, bakers would put nails in our bread, drinks manufacturers would water the beer, pie makers might poison us, and builders would construct houses that fell down when the wind blew. This shows ignorance of how a competitive market works."

As Simon Jenkins points out, the banks have stolen our money, one of the biggest brewing houses on the planet is being sued for allegedly watering its beer and the thought that something in a meat pie may not be what you think it is..? Neigh, never.

Although I was now getting into serious rabbit-hole territory, I couldn't help clicking through to read more. The document was so conveniently ridiculous, I wondered if it might be a spoof. Especially as the site which hosted it was a blog called "Flip Chart Fairytales". Click, click again... and I got a surprise.

Flip Chart Fairytales is not a mad person's fantasy. It's a beautifully thought out, well-constructed blog, concerned with, as it says:

"Business Bullshit, Corporate Crap and other stuff from the World of Work"

I urge you to take a look. Bureaucracy is bad, right? Wrong. Entrepreneurs and small businesses are the future of the economy, right? Wrong.

I love it when someone who can write casually dismembers a whole bunch of sacred horses.  And I love finding this sort of stuff by accident. 


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