30 October 2011
Calls for a radical rethink of the political and economic system from the “HBOS whistleblower”, Paul Moore, could not have come at a more appropriate time.
Moore — who was personally fired by HBOS chief executive Sir James Crosby in November 2004 after seeking to warn the bank’s board that its sales-mad culture, excessive risk-taking, and weak controls jeopardized not just the bank itself but also the wider financial system — makes his call as the global Occupy movement gains traction and as the decade known to former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan as the “Great Moderation” has been re-named “The decade Wall Street [and the City of London] went insane”
Moore believes that, rather than seek a return to the narrow neo-liberalism which has proved so destructive, we should seek a new way of living in which ‘being’ and ‘feeling’ have as much prominence as ‘having’ and ‘doing’.
Moore quotes Colorado-based author Ken Wilbur, who has sought to expose the selfishness and egotism of the “baby boomer” generation. In his 2001 book A Brief History of Everything, Wilbur said humanity must come up with an alternative “integral vision for business, politics, science and spirituality” strong enough to counterbalance the so-called big three – the “I”, the “We” and the “It””.
Here are Moore’s [edited] thoughts:-
“The reason the economy is in such a mess is because we have been living in a culture of “me, more, now” driven by secularism leading to materialism and consumerism and excusing moral relativism. Economics, despite loud protestations to the contrary, is often conducted without ethics. Greed and the love of money have taken over.
“The love of money and self now seems to be at the centre of everything we do. We (and I include myself in this) have become addicted to greed, pride, vanity, envy and excessive consumption. And the mass media paints this way of living – which is all about ‘having’ and ‘doing’ not ‘being’ and ‘feeling’ – as the only way to find freedom, peace and well-being. The credit card advert sums it up “take the waiting out of the wanting”, as does the cosmetics company advert that uses line “Because you’re worth it”.
“We still measure everything by the Holy Grail of GDP (money and growth) which Robert F. Kennedy once described as “measuring everything except what makes life worth living”…. I sometimes think we should re-name it “G Me P”!
“Far from being about freedom, the addictions to “me, more, now” lead to psychological slavery and must be abolished just as physical slavery was in the 19th century. Far from leading to well-being they lead to ill-being and an insatiable craving for more stuff.
“Economics without ethics leads to where we are now – at the culmination of a borrow to grow strategy that has turned out to be a giant Ponzi scheme which has mortgaged our children’s futures so we can live it up in the present and in a world in which, after 400 years of capitalism, the richest 1% of the planet own 40% of everything leaving only 1% for the poorest half.
“The $64,000 question is how do we get from the mess we are now in to a new paradigm about money, markets and economics that avoids both the pitfalls of communism and further unbridled capitalism? All I know is that when profit becomes the exclusive goal, it ultimately risks encouraging people to use improper means to obtain it, destroying the wealth of the majority for the benefit of the few and therefore creating poverty.”