On Banker Bashing

I’m not an apologist for bankers, but whenever I hear people on the radio, or read people in the press, blaming all the world’s woes on them, it really gets on my nerves.

Blaming bankers for making too much money is like blaming lions for killing and eating other animals.

Expressing surprise at such behaviour is naive at best, ignorant at worst. It’s like admitting that you have absolutely no idea how the world works, or that you frankly couldn’t be arsed to pay attention to anything that didn’t directly involve you.

Bankers, particularly investment bankers, are part and parcel of the current economic system. They exist because of it, and insofar as they are regulated at all, they are regulated by it.

Most of us, most of the time, are complicit in keeping that system going because we like the good things it does for us, and conveniently forget about the bad things it does to other people. We are as responsible as anyone for the regulation regime, because we’re not prepared to support the kind of people who want to put a tighter regime in place - or accept whatever consequence might come back to affect us.

I’m not saying that the system is good, but unless you’ve been actively campaigning for a different system, it’s terribly complacent to blame other people for the mess we’re in right now.

If you don’t like it, it’s up to you, as much as anyone else, to do something about it.

I’m not saying that you can take on the banks individually, but when the next election comes round, vote for a party that offers a sensible alternative (for whatever value of “sensible” appeals to you).

In the meantime, if you’re lucky enough to have some, move your money into (slightly more) ethical banks, if you can find them. If you’re lucky enough to have substantial savings, invest them in ethical companies.

We need to take collective responsibility for this stuff, and we need to have a sophisticated understanding of how the world works.

It’s not good enough to just look around for easy scapegoats. That’s lazy, and a dangerously simplistic way of looking at the world - and it’s that sort of thing, as much as the behaviour of bankers, that I think is wrong with it.