18 October, 2009 Dear friends of this blog. Its been a hectic autumn, and so have to apologise twice: first, for failing to post regularly, and second, for a string of posts to follow that I hope will not cause irritation….I am catching up.
My excuse is that I have been in America for a couple of weeks, and what an eye-opener that was. There, awareness of the causes and culprits behind the crisis of economic failure is much more widespread and openly debated, and much better understood than it is here in the UK. There the debate is now led by individuals like Michael Moore and his new movie and Arianna Huffington’s HuffPost. Both clearly identify the finance sector’s (and Goldman Sachs’s) responsibility for the suffering of millions of unemployed (without healthcare) and homeless Americans, as well as those who have lost investments whose businesses have gone bust, or whose pensions have evaporated. ..
There the battle lines have been clearly drawn between Wall St. and Main St. Between the American People and Wall St. Banks. And in the United States people are mobilising…see this planned event: “Showdown in Chicago: Put People First.”
Here in the UK the debate majors on government debt, and the responsibility of Big Government for the crisis…..The battle is between Whitehall and taxpayers, with the finance sector’s role almost obliterated. (The honourable exceptions are the Daily Mail and the Financial Times, both of which chose to make both the Goldman and JP Morgan results front page news this last week….The other papers were far too engrossed in the sordid details of MPs’ gardening and cleaning expenses….! PS do we think this expenses scandal is a conspiracy to distract attention from the City of London? Or are we just paranoid?)
There (in America) they are planning a Showdown in Chicago, with strong, informed debate about the financial crisis. (See the carefully crafted briefings on e.g. JP Morgan on the site.) Here in the UK there is no comparable event. To be fair to the Brits, there appears to be much greater awareness here of the threat of climate change – than there is in America. As a result we are organising a big event in December – ‘ The Wave’ in which we hope tens of thousands will all dress up in blue, and wave at whatever TV cameras and photographers happen to be out on that day….and then we will go home – confident that our politicians will have heard our plea for action on poisonous emissions at Copenhagen.
Its as if we and the Americans live on different planets.
I am always humbled by the reminder that after the 1929 Crash, the United States turned towards progressive politicians – notably FDR – while Europe turned towards fascism.
There is a warning to us Europeans in that history.