The banking crisis has been rumbling on for years, and trillions have gone into a global system that is no longer fit for purpose. The manipulation of the Libor rate is just the latest of many examples of unacceptable behaviour. Vince Cable, writing in last weeks Observer condemned the “incompetence, corruption and greed…endemic in British banking”. Adair Turner, chair of the Financial Services Authority has said that “The public are justifiably angry.” Too right we are! Ever since the beginning of this crisis I’ve been arguing that failing banks should be allowed to collapse: propping them up just creates ‘moral hazard’ and the encouragement of more reckless, stupid and greedy behaviour.
The top echelons of government, corporations and the banks often act to protect their collective self-interest, as the Occupy protest movement said; it is the 1% against the 99%. They have the power, but we have the numbers. It is up to us to get organised. It is time to put our money where our mouth is. It is time to disinvest from all those banks, corporations and political parties that we find most vexatious and to seek-out better alternatives.
The ethical banking sector is growing. Many of us have transferred funds to the Coop and Triodos banks, the Ecology Building Society, and others. Last week we had the AGM of the Leominster Solar Coop where we raised £150,000 from 94 investors to build the region’s first community owned renewable energy project. If we can get many thousand more such projects built over the coming years it’ll reduce carbon emissions while providing a meaningful alternative for those of us with a bit of money to invest. It will also get us into the habit of getting organised and using our resources in the ways that we believe to be right. All of which will help strengthen community cohesion and resilience. It will also help in some small way to redistribute political and economic power. Good news all round.