Monday 19 January 2009

Here we go again

Today the Government announces yet another 'rescue' package. What is announces to is billions (yes, billions) more pounds of tax payers money being tipped into the seemingly bottomless pit that is the UK economy. This time the measures will let banks 'insure' against expected bad debts, give the Bank of England the opportunity to buy stakes in companies across all sectors of the economy, give Northern Rock (already the beneficiary of one of these rescue packages) more time to repay their loans and finally allow the Government to increase their stake in RBS by another 12%.

The idea is that if the banks want to insure against the bad debts they have to make legally binding commitments to start lending money again. Let's hope it works shall we, and let's not worry just now about balancing the books down the line.

The problem, at the end of the day, I'm afraid must come in part (a large part) from the consumer society in which we live and the 'must have' attitudes that are so common nowadays. Why are there bad debts? Setting aside the problems which have arisen in the current financial climate, why were there the original bad debts (which pretty much started this whole mess)? Because people borrowed money that they couldn't afford to repay.

I've been watching a series on the BBC called 'Around the World in 80 Faiths'. An Anglican Vicar is travelling the world and 'taking the religious temperature of the planet'. We've done 30 of 80 so far. It has been quite interesting. What struck me particularly this week was at the end of the programme he visited some Kalahari bushmen. I watched them going about their daily lives (women picking leaves and berries and men hunting) as they had done for thousands of years. I wondered if their lives were any less enriched lacking as they did the modern appliances we all take for granted. Probably not, was the conclusion that I came to - as most of the things that they don't have they probably aren't even aware are missing from their lives.

That is the problem with consumerism. If you know it is out there then you have to have it, don't you?