Sunday, 10 April 2011

The cows refused to be milked.

I'll hijack an Orwellian metaphor here.

The farmer's house is on fire and his well is empty, the only way he can put out the blaze is by dousing it with the milk from his cows. But the cows know that the farmer enjoys watching old celluloid movies on his home projector, and will sit in his living room gazing at the old movies, his only other source of light is a candle, which he sits atop the open reels of film.

"Why would we give you our milk, when your own stupid actions have caused the fire?" they ask. "It isn't our fault." They refuse to give their milk.

That is exactly what has happened in Iceland where the population have rejected, for a second time, a cunningly worded invitation to bear the fallout of the Icelandic banks and politicians incompetence.

I applaud their actions.

Private banks, egged on by a venal and short-sighted political class, bankrupted themselves in an orgy of lending they could not support and returns on investments they could never meet. Why the hell should the public of Iceland be forced to pay the debts that accrued as a result?

The Icelandic Prime Minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir, is not happy saying that this is the worst option that could have been chosen.

Really? For whom?

Why do you think that your population should pick up the tab for the idiocy of your class? If a private citizen in Iceland makes a stupid decision, who is there to bail them out? No-one, as is right. One has to take responsibility for one's own actions. Unless, that is, you happen to be a politician or a banker. How wonderful it must be to live in a world where every success is yours and yours alone and every failure is down to everyone else.

Apparently, when Landsbanki went under, the British and Dutch governments had to reimburse 400,000 citizens.

Did they? Why?

When you are putting your money into a bank, you are investing in that business, and every business that that bank invests in. How many times are we told if it seems too good to be true, that's probably because it is? This was a Ponzi scheme, the same thing we've seen repeated time and again since the 1920s and people still fall for it. Well, tough luck. Perhaps you'll show a little more thought next time.

The governments can't very well turn round and say that, as all over Europe and North America they were encouraging this behaviour, both from the banks and the individual savers. And having burned their fingers in the house fire, they now expect the cows to surrender their milk.

Politicians would argue that this bank held a good deal of public money from Britain in the vaults. Well, why? Firstly, taxes are not paid for local authorities to stick the funds in a high interest account. I expect the balance to be zero at the end of the financial year, if you've got some left over, then you've taken too much - you obviously didn't need it. If the balance isn't zero, then you reduce the tax burden for the next year. What you do not do is stick it in the bank and then come back for more, especially in light of the fact that levels of council tax went up pretty much every year under Labour.

Secondly, why the hell were you so bloody stupid? I can understand Joe Soap being taken in by slick advertising and glossy leafelets, but why the hell were supposed professionals taken in by this? Again, it was not your money, surely best practice would dictate that if you absolutely have to put your surplus in the bank, you pick the safest, most boring option. Local authorities and County councils should not be in the practice of making a profit, that is not what they are for. Any employee of the corporation that made this decision should be sacked for poor performance. Any elected individual involved should have this brought up at every available opportunity by his/her opponents at election time.

The Icelanders have said no. It looks like it will go to some court or other. Let them make their judgement, Iceland has not surrendered it sovereignty yet, what will these courts do if the Icelandic people refuse to pay if the court orders them to?

This is a very important point. Your government does not own you. Iceland owes no money, Iceland is its people. If it is judged that the government of Iceland owes this money, then declare the government of Iceland bankrupt - it doesn't matter. It has no assets, all those buildings, roads, vehicles, all the trappings of nationhood, they aren't owned by the government of Iceland, they are owned by the people of Iceland, the government is just the management company. If that goes bust, then you just make a new one. I really see no problem with that, for the politicians it would be a disaster, but for the man on the street, what difference does it make?

Go to Belgium and see how terrible life is in a country with no government. You'll not see a difference, honest. Business still runs, kids go to school, you can still get the bus, the streets are still swept. That's the frightening truth for the politicians, we don't actually need them that much. Looks like the Icelanders may be realising that.

More power to them.


According to Nanny Beeb, by voting no, the Icelandics are jeopardising their chance of joining the EU as both the UK and the Netherlands could veto their entry.

What are the chances that the good people of Iceland are well aware of this, and having seen what has gone on in Greece, Ireland and Portugal, have no intention of getting involved? Not a nation it is easy to pull the wool over the eyes of, is it?

I also love this comment:

the British and Dutch governments had to reimburse 400,000 citizens - and Iceland had to decide how to repay that money.
Evidently the people and President of Iceland do not concur with that.

So, if you spank your wages on lottery tickets, I'll stand your losses and then demand that the 'good-causes' reimburse me? Uh-uh, I don't think so. I'd love to see how they'll justify holding the population of a country liable for losses incurred via a private business, which they were silly enough to bail out without checking that the liability existed in the first place.

The perils of making a political decision rather than the right decision.


TheBigYin said...

Great thought provoking post today Snow. Reading about politics leaves me cold and I have to wake myself up as I head towards apathy as the onslaught of their missmanagemant gets a tad tedious these days.

We don't need politicians, they create a need for themselves, not us.

William said...

This has to be the most succinct summing up of the sham that is government I have ever read, and I've nicked it and saved it.
I will commit it to memory and roll it out the next time I am in a 'discussion' with a state employee!

"the government is just the management company. If that goes bust, then you just make a new one."

Paul said...

I would like to tell the Icelanders that they are xenophobic, hateful scum for not wanting to join our beloved, gracious EU.

More power to their elbow - give your politicians hell!

From your best friends in Britain.

I fancy a holiday up there. Anyone find us a quote? I bet that in spite of the high alcohol prices I'd have a roaring time with them.

Viva Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn!

Anonymous said...

Great post. Sums it all up, and true.