Indirect and Direct Messages…

It was only as I went out of the door of a local building society that I began to realise that I might have been given at least one powerful message through changes that had been made there!

The changes? Now there was a permanent mini-food bank, a collection bucket for the local food bank and a prominent collecting box for the “Samaritans.”

Previously, every banking place I had ever used only ever had items and notices, etc., to do with direct economics. For the first time, items to do with other aspects of life were there too. No longer was finance being kept separate from ordinary, everyday life, in practice if not in explicit theory. My “bank” was now dealing with socio-economics and so facilitating life-money questions and comments!

Does a bank collecting food and money for local people, in an area with high house prices, especially for sea views, suggests that something may be amiss with our policies for the circulation of money?

The growth of food banks is concrete evidence that some of us are starving.

Are starvation and malnutrition structural parts of current socio-economic policies and practices?

A “yes” answer leads us to question what could be done about it. Some might answer, “Nothing!” Others might answer, “Charity.”

A “no” answer results in the need to seek and apply ways to change our current economic policies so that we do not have starvation etc. as a permanent part of our society.

Answers may depend upon perceptions of “The Market”. Does it function efficiently with minimal to nil government involvement? For whom is it “efficient”?

America has record high stock-market results. “In 2016, over 40 million of 320 million Americans were classed as food insecure, meaning they don’t have enough food for an active and healthy life.” This indicates that the market is not currently efficient for at least 12.5% of America’s people and so needs more democratic intervention. Is this really surprising?

The “Market” is managed by wealth. Wealth correlates most highly with power. The greater your wealth, the greater your power, and vice versa.

Unless there is democratic governmental involvement, the current “positive feed-back”, whereby the most powerful people accumulate ever more income producing assets, will continue and likely accelerate. Thus their control of the “Market” and, therefore, on the systems of society likewise increases.

Similarly, the creation of money using bonds and the like, in the currently dominating environment of economic theory and practice, will not tolerate the provision of government funds for robust infrastructures and decent, enabling provision for the economically weak and not yet so weak.

Perhaps, as you put something in a food bank or a coin or two into the begging bowl of a homeless person, you might reflect upon this report from The Resolution Foundation. It tells us that, overall, succeeding generations are getting poorer, which is a massive reversal of the previous pattern.

This change to generational impoverishment coincides with the increased power of those who benefit from current “Market” economic theory and practice.

Unless there is a stable and democratically equitable distribution of wealth, will hardship for far too many increase and democracy decrease?

* Steve Trevathan is chairperson of Lyme Regis and Marshwood Vale Liberal Democrats.

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4 Comments

  • As someone involved in running a food bank, that is a very timely message, Steve – one Liberal Democrats should pay serious attention to – as they should to the latest BBC News headline : “Patients, dying in hospital corridors’ By Nick Triggle Health correspondent 1 hour ago’.

    They should also pay heed to the latest Joseph Rowntree Foundation Report on Poverty in the UK, 2017 published last month.

    “UK Poverty 2017 | JRF – Joseph Rowntree Foundation ttps://www.jrf.org.uk/report/uk-poverty-2017 4 Dec 2017

    This report, which was produced in-house by the JRF Analysis Unit for the first time, examines poverty rates in the UK, and looks at how figures have changed over the past two decades.

    Sadly, three hours after your article was posted, I notice that I am your first responder – though there is much preoccupation on another matter.

    If Liberal Democrats fail to tackle the growing issues of inequality and poverty with relevant policies then they will not be heard – and they will not be seen to have any relevance in modern politics.

  • I’m guessing most of the reason why there is only one comment is that few people click to post “yup, aghh.” I note though that this was a building society – perhaps they feel they can do this while the banks are still feeling a little awkward about 2007/8.

    Those “high house prices” in the Steve’s area are part of the cause of the effect seen in that building society: high house prices reflect a lack of supply, causing homelessness, and are passed on in high rents, putting the squeeze on low-paid people and so forth. There is an obvious fix for this… but accepted political wisdom is that it would make “we’ve decided to put Nick Clegg in charge of student funding reform and to give Tim Farron the equalities brief” look like populism.

  • In my food bank experience, building society staff have been great at organising a grant from their branch Charity fund and personally joining in a street collections (Three cheers for the good old mutual Skipton).

    On a wider point, please note we also get massive support from the different Christian denominations in the County.

  • Steve Trevethan 12th Jan '18 - 6:57am

    Thank you for the comments!
    Can no one refute the above analysis of the”Market” which shows it to be currently partial and run for the benefit of the wealthy and powerful?
    If this “Market Control” is the reality, what questions does it raise?

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