Friday, October 10, 2008

Is the credit crunch the new bird flu?

Remember avian influenza? The global pandemic which began somewhere in Asia, was spreading to Europe, reached the UK in Norfolk, and was supposed to be the greatest cataclysm since the black death which would claim millions of victims? It was an issue of national security: veterinary surgeons were urgently interviewed, doctors and hospitals were placed on emergency alert, governments were producing medical supplies for millions of people, and the outlook was , to say the least, bleak and depressing.

And then the media discovered a distraction – was it the departure of Tony Blair? – and the moment bird flu left our screens and departed the headlines, everyone forgot about it. And millions did not die, and entire continents were not decimated, and nothing much happened except Bernard Matthews had a very lean year.

Cranmer has this feeling over the ‘credit crunch’. Yes, certainly there is some sort of global financial phenomenon going on. A few banks are collapsing, recession looms, house prices are falling, and governments are spewing out billions in bailouts just as they were mass producing Tamiflu (and where has all that been stashed?). Oh, and Iceland is bankrupt, but who really cares about a lump of volcanic rock with half the population of your average shire? Zimbabwe has been bankrupt for decades, yet the global economy has continued merrily rolling along.

We have been here before, and we recovered through application, effort, ingenuity and free enterprise which enabled economies to once again thrive and people to feel financially secure. And doubtless we shall be here again, for 'boom and bust' is as natural to capitalism as 'snap, crackle and pop' is to rice krispies. It is only when they are soaked and soggy that they lose their life and vibrancy; and it is only when capitalism is drenched in regulation and artificially controlled through state intervention that it ceases to function as God intended.

But the media love a crisis. In fact, they love a crisis as much as the EU, for each and every day the crisis endures, the only source of information is the media, and the only solution, according to the EU, is more EU. While the media see sales and viewing figures soar, our masters in Brussels pontificate from the political pulpits of the continent the false gospel that nation states are impotent, and salvation is to be found in a Europe-wide coordinated response which only a European government can solve. And so we need the Lisbon Treaty, and we need it as urgently as Bernard Matthews needs Tamiflu. And if we delay, there will not only be a shortage of turkeys for Christmas, but Christmas itself may be cancelled because Santa banked in Iceland. And he had shares in Hamleys. And Hamleys banked with Northern Rock, but has just moved its billions to Ireland, or Germany – anywhere which guarantees every deposited euro without limit – for these countries now have the safest banks in the world. So Santa is moving to Dublin, or Berlin, and exchanging reindeer for leprechauns, or Volkswagons, for the only hope he has of meeting all of his service and supply commitments over the next eight weeks is with state aid. Santa has been nationalised.

All the credit crunch needs is a vaccine. And this is quite simply a good dose of Thatcherite common sense. It is not so much that markets must be unregulated – for there is no such thing as a totally ‘free’ market – but capitalism must be permitted to sift and sort according to natural law. The antidote to the crisis is not state intervention or other Socialist ‘remedies’, for these will only draw out and delay the inevitable. There is pain in surgery, but life has its trials and tribulations. Since a collapse and major realignment are inevitable, it is much better to get it over and done with in a short, sharp shock rather than a long and drawn out affair which only contributes to the ‘creative destruction’ of capitalism.

Banks have become the British Leyland of the 21st century. Just as billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money could not sustain the inefficiencies of the nationalised companies of the 70s, so the boards of directors and shareholders of these bloated banks should be left to suffer the consequences of their actions or forced to choke on the fruits of their bad decisions. They made their enseamed bed; now they must stew in their corruption. Shifting the debt from the private sector to the public sector does not make the debt disappear. It simply postpones the humiliation of going cap in hand to the World Bank as inflation and unemployment soar, which seems to be how all Labour governments end.

But the left-dominated media is instilling into the hearts and minds of the undiscerning majority that the credit crunch is caused by greed, the cause of greed is capitalism, and the causes of capitalism are the evil right wing and the selfish nation state. Thus the only solution is some nebulous third-way ‘multilateral network for a new global economy’, as the President of the World Bank demands. Even Iceland is said to be pondering the advantages of re-joining the EU.

No. Continent-wide action and regulation has not brought the solution, and neither will world government. The solutions are found within the sovereign powers of the nation state: each must do as it sees fit, and be freely judged at the ballot box. Some governments will succeed, and some won't. Some financial institutions will go to the wall, and some won’t. Some people’s homes will be repossessed, and some won’t. Some companies will call in the receivers, and some won’t. Some people will lose their jobs, and some won’t. It is not the law of the jungle, but the natural law in a liberal democracy of a healthily functioning market. The rich man in his castle and the poor man at his gate must both live or die by the choices they make. Insulating either or both from the consequences of the exercising of their free will not only creates moral hazard; it sustains the left-wing mantra that the State is the comforter, the protector, and the ultimate source of salvation; it perpetuates the myth that the State has supplanted the Word of John’s Gospel - that all things are made by it, and without it was not anything made which was made.

Or perhaps we simply need a general election, or a war, or the return of bird flu. And then everyone will forget about the credit crunch, for the BBC and The Guardian will once again dictate the prayer lists of the nation’s faithful.

18 Comments:

Blogger Lanarion said...

Your Grace,

Your article draws some interesting parallels and in terms of media spotlight interest, spot on. You also correctly see the problems of belief in the state a-la-left wing politics. However, whilst media fear of bird flu was apparent, it must be said that it was for the most part justified. H5N1 bird flu is a more potent strain than the Spanish flu that killed an estimated 100 million world-wide - remembering that world population was vastly reduced - around 1/3 of the population of Europe. Suffice to say that it is not a pleasant pestilence, and it will *eventually* come to fruition - the 'flu viruses are mutating and every time they do are rolling the dice. Eventually they will get 3 sixes.

10 October 2008 at 10:19  
Anonymous Charles Darwin said...

Your Grace, prudent people are quite right to be alarmed by avian flu. The media are equally wrong to be alarmist about it.

A little after your corporeal time, the Black Death killed a third of the poplation of Europe and precipitated acollapse in the economy and society that not even our Prime Minister has yet been able to manage.

The 1918/19 pandemic had a very low fatality rate (estimated at 2% of those infected), yet killed 20-40 million people. On the mercifully rare occasions H5N1 does infect humans 60-70% of those infected die.

Scientists postulate that if H5N1 does mutate to become more infections to humans, that it might lose some of its lethality in the process. And indeed it might not. It might not mutate to become readily transmissible bewen nfect humans. As epidemiologists will tell you, it is not a matter of if the next flu pandemic will occur but when. It might not be H5N1, but somewhere in the human or animal population a flu virus will inevitably become infections to humans on a pandemic scale.

I am sure you would not wish this on your communicants.

10 October 2008 at 10:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is the ordinary folk that are suffering because of this banking crisis, not the fat cats. the saherholders are taxpayers and pension fund holders. I pity those people whose retirement is just around the corner. After all their hard work, they're seeing their pensions wiped out.
- Damo Mackerel

10 October 2008 at 11:06  
Blogger Dave said...

Your Grace,

the western world's government needs a bogey man to keep the proles in line.
It used to be the Commies, Reds under the bed, then it was Alkie Ada and now it's the credit crunch.
Western society cannot function without an element of fear and uncertainty. Just look at the advertising on TV, which preys on our insecurities.
Some bogeymen are more personal to us than others. The possible threat to our savings is closer to home than a possible terrorist threat that has allowed the government to pass draconian laws that affect our liberty.
The rulers of the earth rule us by keeping us scared, in chains and now poor.
Christians should look in the Bible where it says about our enemy not being flesh & blood etc

10 October 2008 at 11:17  
Blogger El Fouche said...

"it is only when capitalism is drenched in regulation and artificially controlled through state intervention that it ceases to function as God intended."

I trust your Grace is using a rehtorical flourish here, rather than being literal. To ascribe modern Cpatialism to God is somewhat Idolaterous - to suggest tha the Almighty ordained a phenomenon of late Western Enlightenment thinking, and that its rules are divinely inspired seems hard to justify.

However, the danger of governments always bailing out those institutions that fail in these circumstances is that everyone assume that this will always be the case, and recklessness abounds.

One wonders how much real help there will be for those who not only loose savings, but livelihoods, homes and even families as a result of this collapse. And what of the world's truly poor, in countries like Zimababwe that you dismiss with a rhetorical flourish, but where even today there is plea to help bail out literally millions who will starve in the coming months? Should these all be left to suffer the consequences of a crisis not of their own making?

I am reminded of Deuteronomy 15:11 - it is down to all of us to help one another, and with that I agree with you wholeheartedly Your Grace - it is not up to Government per se to help out those who suffer the consequences of the actions of financial institutions. It is my responsibility and yours.

10 October 2008 at 14:14  
Blogger Tomrat said...

Your Grace,

Once again I must bring to your attention the work of this blogger in Alaska:

http://nikiraapana.blogspot.com/

She is part of the anti-communitarian league, a group dedicated to fighting communitarianism - this is the concept behind everything that has gone wrong with modern politics and governance and should be brought into the light and its champions brought to heel.

It granddaddy is written about here:

http://lpuk.blogspot.com/2008/10/one-of-most-influential-men-youve-never.html

Well worth a read.

10 October 2008 at 14:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any engineer will tell you that the money market is an unstable system; the only way in which it can be persuaded to run stably is by constant monitoring and correction - like the Eurofighter which is an unstable machine but can be be flown in this way.

10 October 2008 at 15:29  
Anonymous Yokel said...

Do I not remember that Tamiflu has a shelf life, and goes off after a while? If that is so, then the vast amounts produced in yesteryear to enrich the drug company that holds the patent is surely even now at the bottom of a land fill somewhere.

We the people do not need this constant frenzy of one panic after another. But our governments do. After all they have an agenda to follow. They have a prophecy to fulfil. And God has permitted them to do so. Brothers, be strong in the faith of Christ.

10 October 2008 at 16:17  
Blogger Alfred the Ordinary said...

and there I was worrying about Acid Rain.

10 October 2008 at 17:37  
Anonymous oiznop said...

"'boom and bust' is as natural to capitalism as 'snap, crackle and pop' is to rice krispies. It is only when they are soaked and soggy that they lose their life and vibrancy; and it is only when capitalism is drenched in regulation and artificially controlled through state intervention that it ceases to function as God intended."

Brilliant. This should be the Quote of the Day.

10 October 2008 at 18:16  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Interesting. Bird flu, global financial crisis, and World wars seem to go hand in hand, or at least they all seem to happen within very short periods of time. I can see real positive advantages for such a triple whammy to kick in some time soon. It spells doom for many of course, but it also serves as a wake up call for a decadent and sick society (its the culmination of years of slime).

10 October 2008 at 18:23  
Blogger Miss Snuffleupagus said...

Such a clever post. I had completely forgotten about bird flu! I do worry Your Grace that I find I agree with you so often...

10 October 2008 at 18:56  
Anonymous ever and anon said...

Brilliant, Your Grace!

Now I see why we were too stupid to deserve a Referendum - let alone an ELECTION NOW!

You've made all the connections: and they work for me. More so, indeed, after listening to a respected daily talk show on America's NPR. Methought that was very pro-euro-agenda-anti-nation-state: the only solution lying in the euSSR (and the US- "We're all socialists now"). Gordo's 'global solutions' clang like ante-bella - oh these typos: 'bells'.

Meanwhile...back to the Gulag.

10 October 2008 at 20:44  
Anonymous billy said...

I'm still living under the bed waiting for the Millenium Bug to get me, Your Grace.
It hasn't yet but I guess it is still lurking and those it misses will, no doubt, be smitten by the Obesity Epidemic if Alkie Ada, Bovine Spongy Whatsit and Green House Gasses haven't got them.
Am I the last one left? NTW. I'll have another HobNob.

10 October 2008 at 22:19  
Anonymous Early Yorick said...

Good idea, Billy (i.e. the HobNob). Got to be better than the antibiotics they won't let you have for a virus - or anything!

10 October 2008 at 22:34  
Blogger The Black Fingernail said...

This is just original brilliance. I'd pay to read this stuff. You're so right - I've been waiting for an epidemic of bird flu or mad cow disease, or acid rain or the millennium bug or global warming, or the whole world suffering a financial meltdown - the more the authorities keep us in fear the more they can control us and tax us to death. You are a revelation of enlightenment. Thank God you're getting this message out to the ignorant masses.

10 October 2008 at 22:39  
Blogger Holy Smoke said...

What is most amazing is we live in an age of instant communication and information and to think the media is still able to create mass panic is unbelievable ... yet they do. The masses can't be bothered with looking things up or analyzing opinions . That is why they are sold things they can't afford and vote for social idiots. Yes there is a sucker every minute and it is not the job of the wise to always run interference for the lazy. It is said the poor will always be with us. I think included in the definition of poor is those who can't function without someone telling them what to do.

11 October 2008 at 09:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is scaring the financial markets is this - "Lehman Credit-Default Swap Payout Could Climb as High as $365 Billion" from today's Washington Post. This is the tip of a $55 trillion market for these products. If those holding the contracts do not /can not honour them in 2 weeks time then nobody knows how bad it will get. There is no precedent.

11 October 2008 at 09:48  

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