Saturday, December 12, 2009

Clean Hands

So this week, the British government announced a tax on bankers bonuses. The bankers are not happy, ofcourse. After all, the bankers have worked hard to play with other people’s money and get rich. Why should the bankers be punished for others mistakes? It is not the bankers problem that the government lent billions of dollars to banks to bail them out. As far as the bankers are concerned, their hands are clean.

The entire financial problem is not the bankers fault but caused by the general public. Yup, it is the general public that have ruined things. How? By two ways:

1) Giving banks their money
2) Borrowing too much from banks

The public duly give their money to banks. Why? Because it is “better” than keeping it under a mattress. The banks turn around and give the people close to 0% interest on their deposited money (sorry, 0.01% is as good as zero). On top of that, banks charge people fees for accessing their own money. So what do the people do in return? Nothing!!! They still keep their money in the banks. Stupid people. The banks then have no choice but to take reckless risks with the people’s money. When the banks run into trouble, they do not have to worry because the government will rush in to save the day and use taxpayers money to keep the banks on their feet. Hooray!!

People are supposed to be smart about their money. If they go to a bank for a $100,000 loan and the bank in turn approves them for a $500,000 loan, the people should know better than to accept the money. Who is to blame here? These people for accepting the money or the banks for approving their loans? The people ofcourse!! The banks seriously do not have time to do proper checks on each person’s financial history and only lend the correct money to each person. If the banks did that, then they would be crushing these people’s “American dream”. The banks don’t want to be the bad guys but want to be liked by the people. Moreover, how can the bankers ever have time to treat each customer like an individual. For that, the bankers would have atleast 8 hours a day. Seriously! How can bankers be expected to work 8 hours like those average miserable non-banker public. Yuck! Bankers should not have to come into work before 10 am and they have to leave by 4 pm.

The bankers hands are clean.


They do not have to get their hands dirty by building a bridge or operating on a patient. No sir! A few clicks of the keyboard and playing with other people’s money is not a dirty job. It is the cleanest job there is.

Moreover, since when was it bad to make money? I mean, even Hollywood heaps praises on characters who are greedy such as Gordon Gekko (Wall Street) and Daniel Plainview (There Will be Blood). Does Hollywood ever give a trophy to a character who plays a slacker? Nope. Modern society has been built using loans and human progress has been fueled by money. So why is being greedy bad all of a sudden?

In a year or two, this “greed is bad” phase will pass. The banks are not going anywhere after all. Where else will people put their money? The bankers will always be rich and their hands will always be clean.

Noe: image from Francesco Rosi's brilliant film Le Mani sulla città (Hands on the City)

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