Roving General Assembly Friday 13th July 2012. Return to Liverpool St. Station
Event: General Assembly
Location: Liverpool St. Station. Opposite Bishopsgate Police Station.
Weather: Dry. Friday night and lots of people about.
Date: Friday 13th July 2012
Facilitator: Mike G.
Starts: 1915 hours
Hosted by the EEE and Economics Working Group.
GA Fri 13 July ‘12 east forecourt Liverpool St Station 7.15 start as rain ceases
Minutes (– Literal account is available on livestream – thanks Obi)
Mike G Introduces
The Olympics is a temporary Tax Haven – Olympic Park all tax free. £2.5B will leave the country
Joe (Unite Union & Waltham Forest Trades Council). Her nearest Occupy activity is at Layton Marshes. “Defend the Right to Protest” – respect for the journey the Occupy Movement has taken, challenging the whole priorities of the system. Postcard Caption – ‘If you give a man a gun he can rob a bank. Give him a bank he can rob the world.’ Occupy challenges a system which prioritises greed & profit; it challenges injustice. No main political party addresses the neo-liberal agenda which sees the NHS, Schools, Old Peoples’ Homes etc. as opportunities to make a profit – Diamond & Cameron have this in common. Note Balfour Beaty & employers at the Shard – lowering wages by 30% – we’re not all in it together. Cameron, Merkel Sarcosy effectively created a tax on multiculturalism – blame foreigners for economic stress like le Pen. Occupy & the Trade Union Movement are about internationalism. People around the world are against austerity – so much ties us together. Must act together in so many ways. 20th Oct TUC March for a Government that works.
Mike G 1% opposing reform of House of Lords Of 775 peers 124 are on the payroll of financial services Companies – about 20%. Most of these companies borrow & are in toxic debt.
Clive – I’ve worked in city for about 30 years. In last 10 years been exploring the causes of crises. What most don’t understand is the role of Debt in our society. Anthropologist David Graeber author of, ‘Debt the 1st 5000 years’. Debt predates money, a very curious thing – puts people under an obligation. The Tiv in Nigeria like it, in moderation. So possible positive role – but also negative role. See, ‘Interest and Inflation free money’ by Prof .Margrit Kennedy 1995 (free PDF on net – ed). We all pay interest e.g. large proportion of your railway ticket is paying interest. So for the average German even 30 years ago the average rate was 50% of everything bought. Interest treats diff people differently. The top 10% receive from interest twice what they pay – the bottom 80% is the opposite way round – and they pay the top rates. For the top 0.01% they get 2000 times more from interest payments than they pay out.
Only the principle amount of the loan is created as money. Where does the interest come from? Interest is created as debt. The system relies on ever increasing debt. UK public debt has just passed £1T. Public debt accumulating is driving the crisis. We are creating a downward spiral by creating more bank debt. Nations create and get guarantees from the European Central Bank etc who in turn guarantee (loan to) their banks who can then buy government debt. Implausible circularity.
If really want to change the world you must address the problem of debt an interest. Note LIBOR & the sub prime crisis. It started from the ’87 Wall St Crash (quickly lists several following). These cries will not go away. If we pay down all the debt the money goes away!
Potential to go back to double digit rates of interest. Think about it.
Bystander – What do we do?
Mike G LIBOR is the basis of all nearly interest rates. The crisis was discovered by the Americans not the Brits. Of the £290M fine so far only £59M paid to UK authorities £230M to the US. Diamond refused to answer the Treasury Committee properly; a Senate Committee will be tougher.
Murdoch’s testimony – over 80 – amnesia?, not son. Unfortunate people not realised how being robbed. More & more. (words missed –ed) Bankers and financiers are not geniuses. If they were any good as criminals they wouldn’t get caught. Serious Farce Office as Private Eye calls them (Serious Fraud Office) are inadequate, feeble record, virtually no on charged over economic crisis scandals.
Peter D Executive pay and bonuses. Diamond was getting paid £17M a year . Davis of Xstrata £70M.
Why when we’re going through this crisis are top people earning so much? False idea we only need competition. Markets don’t set the rate. People do. They look at the average, say £500K add £50K etc. and it annually accelerates. In 1998 the Av CEO FTSE100 pay was £1M by 2010 it was £4.2M, 162 times the national average. When average pay went up 2.5 % in 2010 theirs went up 49%. Need maximum pay linked to the minimum.
Look at John Lewis. Their pay cap works. The CEO gets just 75 times the minimum way. Although he earns 1/3 to ¼ of what he’d get elsewhere he says he prefers their environment.
Another Bystander (Lyn) Maximum wage – lots of ways to manipulate to avoid tax e.g. offshore. Lots of cons. 2 of the biggest banks HSBC & ? try to run it as same kind as commercial & investment – get rid of investment side. (Sorry Lyn, probably garbled this –ed)
Peter D About the complexity of limiting the maximum pay- It’s true, but all it needs is the will. Schemes exist. It is doable, like the Massachusetts formula.
Mike G How to solve it ? Problem of corrupt party political system. To be an MP you have to be selected by a completely opaque process – cuts out people of differing views.
Clive It’s still the Age of American Hegemony. Media effectively controlled by Banks’ lobby control both US parties.. Less apparent in UK but £93M identified in last year political financial lobbying here. So unless we fix the banking and monetary system the politics won’t change. If we really want democracy we the citizens, the 99% must understand. Must change the system fundamentally.
Mike G We don’t have any form of democracy. A chicken sexer couldn’t tell the parties apart – need proportional representation. We have professional career politicians. Once you could say most people entered their party to do good. Peter Walker, the former Conservative MP, was told to make money first because there was none (then) in politics. Labour was supplied by unions only. Now only the oldest have done proper work.
Housing Crisis. Most cannot afford to rent or buy a home – need share.
Chris FD Occupy about asking questions – but must ask the right ones – how about housing – or better still homes? I’m a mild chap but I’m angry I hope you are too. Mervyn King said he couldn’t see why more people weren’t . When I delivered a housing petition to No 10 last week there was a memorial opposite for women who died in the war – they gave us a legacy .We should look after that & make it better still for those who come after. So how have we been doing on housing? Seems boring but it’s at the centre of the economic meltdown. The 3rd most important aspect of human need after food and water. Will the future be known as the dark age of neo-liberalism? – Led by Thatcher & Blair, – beware his return .
For 30 years neglect of housing. Promotion of a debt linked investment culture – making a fast buck. People desperate to get on the ladder – drove the market. Is there anything more sick than the commodification of the 3rd most desperate human need- your home? cf reduced to tents in St Paul’s churchyard. We have seen a sick manipulation of the market. Exploiting a supposedly secure debt to make money from you. But there can be sensible banking. However current result massive uncontrolled debt – aided and abetted by parties of all colours. Toxic Debt. Plug ‘Little Book of Ideas’ explaining this. End game in midst of depression left with an inflated housing market. Government still clings desperately to defunct ideologies & seems to have no idea what to do. There are Benefits limits to so called affordable rents. Sick exploitation – landlords’ greater rights to eviction. Security of tenure is an essential right. Active groups springing up all over London
What to Do? Build 2M homes needed for 5m people. Petition to No 10 for a major ring fenced community housing program , fully socially integrated Could be helped by a genuine Localism ideology with affordable Rents and Security Can this work? 1st needs a change of ideology. To counter Land price inflation with these changes requires various measures. This is the 1st step to putting homes and housing where they belong. Addresses the massive need for activity in our economy.
Joke Reforming the House of Lords a strange choice – the only piece of Govt we have not seen discredited, unlike the House of Commons. The House of Commons needs reforming. Until the day comes when we know it’s worth coming out to cast a vote . Begin to provide a society we’re pleased & proud to live in
Dave D Someone asked, “What should we do?.” Chris’s housing measures are a part of it. End the nonsense that Austerity will fix things. It only reduces demand so there is less economic activity created enabling debt repayments. This is creating a downward spiral. Even some of the debt rating agencies now acknowledge this. As a start you seek to repay debt more slowly. Ironically that will probably make it quicker. And you continue to sustain demand through government spending. Allowing for inflation they can now borrow at a negative interest rate, unlike the other more seriously indebted sectors. More radically you need to look at debt restructuring, write downs and repudiation, following a debt audit commission. Currently the system is choked with nearly all the money being stuck unused at the top – analogy with constipation. We need a real re-re-transfer of wealth, from the top to the rest, to get it circulating again.
Obi Paradoxes of QE (sorry, not got back to file – ed)
Chris FD Building 200,000 homes a year would create one million over five years. How pay? Well we created £375M QE helping banks I asked Mervin King if we could do that for housing. He replied, “it’s a political question.” It’s a pure economic question. We could also get the money from; uncollected tax, bonds, land value tax, ending tax havens. We Just need the will.
Clive Various money creation systems are possible. In 1694 Bank of England Banks gained monopoly power to create money, for the benefit of a private consortium of banks, & the privately owned Federal Reserve Board in the US does likewise – for the banks. Monetary easing is the Bank of England creating money at interest. Nothing to stop the government creating it as credit and value into the economy. Could create £20B interest free. Would need to create safeguards to avoid property boom. We don’t need to pay interest. Now new ways of creating debt are developed – to provide care to the elderly, turning Student Debt into bank profits. We have to think differently and take banks out of the business of creating money
Mike G We could do QE do it from the bottom (directly to ordinary people) up, eg. With a requirement to spend within 3 months. Perplexing narrative on ‘Sovereign debt problem’. Under Brown’s leadership of the treasury idea it should be no more than 40% GDP so private finance initiative used to hide it more expensively off the books – our sovereign debt is less than Germany, America etc. Most benefit is just the bailing out (subsidy) of the banks – doing it repeatedly Hidden agenda – by attacking welfare, health, pensions it’s aimed at pricing people into work Could be facing an Dickensian future. Implies Workhouses.
Harj Treasury Select Committee enquiry has left out the good questioners on the panel. How do we really find out what has gone on? – Public Judicial Enquiry, International enquiry? (& mentions others)
Mike G We just need the police to do their job. The Serious Farce Office must do their job
We have a problem with regulation.
Dave D Agree with Mike. Implement existing law. Also Financial Times today P18, ‘ Seven ways to clean up our banking ‘ cesspit’.’ Item 2 Heavier penalties & more transparency using data for actual transactions.
Tommy My point’s been covered (I think –ed)
Jonny Brun (missed input –ed)
Clive – The Criminality Libor, Mervyn King declared himself shocked but the flaws are systemic.
Mark The Nation Audit office – Why not use them?
(Lyn?) Radical simplification of UK tax code needed. Now over 11,000 pages so as to allow people to find ways of not paying. Look at the history of the US Dodd Franks regulation .. The financial institutions demanded successive changes and then complained it had got too complicated – complexity allows them to look for opportunities to avoid tax The UK and USA have over 11,000 pages of regulation each while Denmark has only a few hundred pages. (& a principles based, not rules based legislative system – ed)
Mike G Known tax avoidance technically at £120B per annum according to the Tax Justice Network. We should be looking at increasing government income not simply cutting costs.
Matt What would happen if the pound got devalued? If you’ve no money little money in your bank account it would have bugger all effect. If you’ve got millions you know before and you buy assets.
(Fracas & cheering in Weatherspoons across the forecourt. Our police have disappeared.)
Mike G Thank you for being here . (7.36pm)
Shout outs: Tammy Cameron critique, ‘What the Dickens?’ Tue 17th next week Paupers’ Picnic, at Parliament Sq. 2pm. Then to Downing St dressed in rags & banners asking Cameron, “What the Dickens is going on?’
Kris Question were why so many police, about 50, running fast into Weatherspoon’s? Because they has 50 waiting in vans round the corner, for us.
Jonny There are more General Assemblies usually on Sunday 3pm St Paul’s, and other places around 7pm Fridays. Details, locations would be placed on the out OccupyLondon website.
People arrested 21st (31st?) Feb eviction in court next week ,181 Mary Rd .Mon Tue Wed Thurs. Support wanted. Be there.
Obi In 23 mins Global Noise meeting on mumble for mid October international action
Meeting closes 7.41
Tammy Samede Olsx: