tis Conference season:
"Countries that were once democracies are becoming plutocracies; plutocracies are becoming oligarchies; oligarchies are becoming kleptocracies."
"Strangely, one of the best evocations of this long-gone system is Goldfinger, the James Bond book. The film of the same name has a slightly different plot, but they both feature an attempt to undermine the west’s financial system by interfering with its gold reserves. “Gold and currencies backed by gold are the foundations of our international credit,” a Bank of England official named Colonel Smithers explains to 007..."
"THE Government announced its crackdown on the gambling industry in May by slashing the stakes on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals from £100 every 20 seconds to just £2. That was their intention but there is a lot of confusion around when this is going to happen. It is widely anticipated that millions of pounds will be spent on these machines in the time the Government takes to implement its promises.
The setting up of its legislative review also does little to tackle the harmful effects of online gambling which is becoming an epidemic. To me, it does not make sense to have such incoherent legislation. We are simply taking the addiction off the high street and sending it online.
GambleAware, a charity which raises awareness of gambling addiction, said that 370,000 young people aged 11 to 16 gamble each week and that 25,000 of them are classified as problem gamblers. Adam Bradford: My father went to prison because of his gambling addiction With the sharp increase in online advertising and social media tactics used by gambling firms, it is no wonder that people like me are increasingly worried for the next generation. Four years ago, my dad was caught in the grip of a gambling addiction. He went to jail after stealing over £50,000 from his employers and had kept his ordeal secret from the family. We only knew there was a problem when it was revealed that he was on his way to prison.
He racked up hundreds of thousands of debt in the background, even remortgaging our family home to keep the whole facade rolling. Stories like his are seldom heard.
Since our ordeal, we started a national campaign to raise awareness of the addiction and for it to be treated as a mental health problem like drug and alcohol addiction. Gambling activity does, after all, affect the endorphin in your brain like cocaine does, according to University of Cambridge research. What I never expected in running this campaign was for the less educated public to shout back at us so loudly. Of course, running a campaign you expect a certain level of feedback and reaction. We have received horrific abuse. From people wishing me and my dad dead to those calling for him to be sent back to prison.
We are raising awareness of a serious condition. The Gambling Commission’s most recent statistics suggest that over 500,000 people are problem gamblers in the UK, but of course this information is not complete in my opinion. Many hide their addiction, like my dad did, and even do not realise they have a problem until it is too late.
Tom Watson MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, calls gambling addiction ‘Britain’s hidden crisis’ and has stood up against Labour’s previous policy of virtually deregulating gambling in the 2005 Gambling Act. The Government’s recent review includes a recommendation for Public Health England to look into the health effects of gambling and for online gambling regulation and advertising to be reviewed.
It is promising rhetoric but what we need is action. Firm, fast action which will stop lives from being ruined and kill this social blight. A compulsory levy should be further strengthened so that the adequate amount of treatment and support can be delivered to both gambling addicts and the families who their addiction affects.
There was no support available for our family, besides self-help groups. It is estimated that problem gambling costs the country over £1.2bn a year, according to a study from GambleAware and the Institute of Public Policy Research think-tank. Craig Thorley, research fellow, from the IPPR, said that problem gambling is a hidden addiction. IPPR’s research shows the scale of the challenge for Britain’s public services for the first time.
This should be a wake-up call to the Government. We need a robust strategy to deal with this issue, just like we’ve had for other public health issues such as alcoholism. What we do not need is brave campaigners, who are telling their stories to influence meaningful policy, lambasted and insulted because of their work to make a genuine difference to the lives of many."
Bach, Bark & Bite ...
"The villain Auric Goldfinger’s cunning scheme is to own pawnbrokers all over Britain, buy up gold jewellery and trinkets from ordinary Brits in need of a bit of cash, then melt them down into plates, attach the plates to his Rolls-Royce, drive them to Switzerland, reprocess them and fly them to India. By doing so, Goldfinger will not only undermine the British currency and economy, but also earn profits he could use to fund communists and other miscreants. Hundreds of Bank of England employees are engaged in trying to stop this kind of scam from happening, Smithers tells 007, but Goldfinger is too clever for them. He has secretly become Britain’s richest man, and has £5m-worth of gold bars sitting in the vaults of a bank in the Bahamas.
“We are asking you to bring Mr Goldfinger to book, Mr Bond, and get that gold back,” says Smithers. “You know about the currency crisis and the high Bank rate? Of course. Well, England needs that gold, badly – and the quicker the better.”
By modern standards, Goldfinger wasn’t doing anything wrong, apart perhaps from dodging some taxes. He was buying up gold at a price people were prepared to pay for it, then selling it in another market, where people were prepared to pay more. It was his money. It was his gold. So what was the problem? He was oiling the wheels of commerce, efficiently allocating capital where it could best be used, no?..."
"By the 1960s, perhaps 5% of all the money in Europe lay under Switzerland’s steel mattresses. For the City’s most ambitious financiers, this was tantalising: there was all this money squirrelled away, doing nothing much, and it was exactly what they needed in their quest to start selling bonds again. As Warburg saw it, if he could somehow access the money, package it up and lend it, he would be in business. Surely, Warburg thought, he could persuade the people who were paying Swiss bankers to look after their money that they would rather earn an income from it by buying his bonds? And surely he could persuade European companies that they would rather borrow this money from him and avoid paying the steep fees demanded in New York?...
"Time after time, countries have chased after the business they have lost offshore (as the US did by abolishing the regulations the banks were dodging when they moved to London), thus making the onshore world ever more similar to the offshore piratical world that Warburg’s bankers created."
The Shorts are out?
"Come January, we will get another update of how much more of the world’s wealth these oligarchs have taken for themselves: the only surprise will be the precise volume of their new acquisition, and how little they have left for the rest of us. But we shouldn’t wait until then to grasp the urgency of the situation.
We need to act now to shine a light on their wealth, on the dark matter whose gravitational power is bending the fabric of our societies. We may have been ignoring Moneyland, but its nomad citizens have not been ignoring us. If we wish to take back control of our economies, and our democracies, we need to act now. Every day that we wait, more money is stacked against us."