Mark Steel: The bankers should bail themselves out
Thirty years we've had, of unfathomably wealthy bankers and dealers being justified as part of the free market.
So they boasted: "I've just got my summer bonus and spent part of it on a small African nation which I burnt down for a laugh," or went to restaurants that charged a thousand pounds for meals such as "asparagus boiled in panda's tears" or bought cars that ran on liquified diamonds, and it was all proof we lived in a free society in which we were paid what we were worth and couldn't rely on state handouts. Then the minute their scam falls apart, they're straight on to the Government squealing "Can we have a free state handout please, our bank's gone bust." They're like spoilt students who go back to their Dad for more money because they've blown a year's allowance in one week. But this soppy government will go "You already had fifty billion quid, what have you done with that? Well alright, here's another fifty billion we were saving for kidney machines, but this time be careful."
It's so obscene you get comments such as the one yesterday that went "The money men have made fools of us. In the years of their dominance they insisted the markets were the highest judges and must be left to rule. Now the markets are signalling their downfall, they're running sobbing to governments and taxpayers, begging for our money."
And that piece of class-hatred came from Max Hastings in the Daily Mail. Because the explanation for the current crash from people like that is they were right to demand an unregulated free market, as society could only be run efficiently if the world's finances were put in the hands of these bankers. But then it turned out these bankers were more interested in their private wealth than in the good of society as a whole – and fair's fair, no one could possibly have anticipated that.
So, as Gordon Brown has become so friendly with Thatcher, maybe he can put her to use. He should tell her she's about to make a speech at the Conservative conference, but fill the room with city executives, who'll be told "You can't go on paying yourselves more than you earn. We can't allow those who can't stand on their own two feet to sponge off the state."
Then they should all be sent down the job centre. At first they'll complain "There's nothing for me in there. I trained for two whole hours to get my qualifications as a parasite and there's no parasite jobs going at the moment anywhere." Then, just as people who claimed benefits when they were working have to pay the money back, all the bonuses they received for boosting their company's shares will have to be returned, now the shares are worthless. And if they haven't got it they should be herded into a new social category called "pension slaves", in which they spend the rest of their lives doing errands for all the people whose pensions they've ruined.
Instead the politicians and businessmen will all join together in saying: "It seems that everything we've been saying for 30 years has turned out to be shite. In these circumstances, it is imperative that those people who became immensely rich out of creating this shite should be compensated heavily. It is also of great importance than we pay no attention to anyone who warned us this was bound to end in shite, as the only people trustworthy to get us out of it are those that put us in it. Carry on everyone."
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