the current crisis.

I have been trying to express my views on the current financial crisis – the one that surfaced in 2007/8 and is still going on – in a single page.

This is my latest attempt to do so.

 transparency: a declaration about the continuing crisis

Transparency is the natural disinfectant that today’s corrupt capitalism needs. Markets aren’t working, but it’s because they are broken, not because markets don’t work. All over the world people buy and sell stuff in markets. And when it works well, capitalism delivers, as capitalism has delivered us the technology which will allow us to control it.

Today’s markets have been corrupted by breaking promises. A whole string of promises that could never be kept and should never have been made are now being broken. Promises that the baby-boomers could have as long and as wealthy a retirement as their parents. Promises that pensions would be worth saving for, promises that poor people would repay impossible mortgages. Promises made by politicians in exchange for our votes. Promises wrapped up in secrets and lies, tied into knots by lawyers for brokers and dealers who have stolen and snorted away the money they promised to look after for us and for our heirs and our parents.

Governments are entangled by loans, bonds, taxes, debt and deficits into a system corrupted by secrets, lies and broken promises. As is each of us with overdrafts and student loans, our savings, mortgages and pensions, taxes and benefits. Yes, Mr Cameron, we are all in this together: tangled in a mess where all we can see is that the more promises the powerful break the richer they become.

We know that untangling the mess will not be painless or easy, but it will be easier if we can see what threads lead where. Let the light in.

We are not against capitalism; we are against corrupt and broken capitalism. We want capitalism to keep on producing the brilliant stuff, the stuff that’s made when brilliant people work passionately together, the technical stuff that could help us to sort out this and all the other messes we’ve got ourselves into and all the other cool creative stuff that capitalism at its best can make.

“Sunshine is the best disinfectant” said the learned judge, so let the sun shine on capitalism’s dark corners and shady conspiracies.

No more secret deals. Let no contract bind unless it is published for everyone to see. Let no court enforce any agreement made or held in secret. Open the government’s books for us to read, to see how our government is spending our money, so every government ledger and every official document is searchable by Google – and by all its competitors.

And what applies to government must also apply to companies – but not to individuals.

As individuals, we have a human right to privacy.

Human rights matter: they are to protect individuals from the excesses of groups like companies and governments.

The most pressing change is to contract law: henceforth, we the people of the world will witness every contract made. If it isn’t published, it isn’t binding. No more secret deals.

Then we change company law. Every shareholder should have a right to know exactly what a company is doing with his or her money at any time. For public companies, whose shares anyone can own, this will mean that the books must be online and searchable. Not just an annual report, nine months after the fact, but the bank balance this instant.

The phrase “commercial in confidence” implies a conspiracy; a conspiracy that should be unlawful.

When we can see everything that they do, they will not be able to lie to us.

Then it will be our responsibility to sort out the mess.


2 comments so far

  1. n8chz on

    It never hurts to remind people that privacy≠secrecy. One pertains to individuals and the other to institutions. They are two entirely different animals.

  2. Quotebag #59 | In defense of anagorism on

    […] “The phrase ‘commercial in confidence’ implies a conspiracy; a conspiracy that should be unlawful.”—ejoftheweb […]

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