Saturday 1489 – 14th January 2012
A more serious post this week.
So each and every one of us in the UK is carrying a huge amount of foreign debt. The figures depend on which website you are looking at but is reckoned to be over £100,000 per person. What does seem to be agreed on is that in the UK it is staggeringly high. ( Similarly in other parts of the world as I’m sure my followers will testify) If you want to read something about this try here or about the recession here ( just a random example of what’s been written )
The blame is all attached to Banks and Governments but is that entirely just? Don’t think for a second I fully understand how the world got itself into this financial mess, as I find it bewildering and these things are always complex but here are some of my rather simplistic thoughts on what I see as part of the problem.
It seems to me that successive UK governments have promised people things which people are not prepared to pay for and have increased borrowing to fund these things as no politician wants to lose elections or popularity do they?
Everyone wants better services but no-one actually wants to pay for them. Costs in the NHS for example continue to rise as more and more expensive treatments become available and everyone wants great services but do people want to pay more tax in order to secure them? Likewise our services for older people have never been worse but do people want to pay more tax to make sure they are better? It appears to me that they don’t.
So why don’t we want to pay ?
I think part of the reason is because we have become a throwaway greedy consumerist society in which individuals perceive they need more and more things; latest phone , latest camera !, bigger and bigger TV, faster and smarter car, holidays every year ( sometimes several times a year) I have known couples who would not get married until they had bought a house, newly carpeted it throughout with all new furniture… We equate happiness with having things now !even though in our hearts we know that does not fulfil us.
Much of what is happening now with credit has a long history which has slowly brought us to this point.
During the war years and post war ( until the end of rationing and beyond) people in the UK largely did without and there was most certainly an ethos of you worked for what you had and you didn’t buy something until you saved up to get it.
When work, money and goods started to become available (arguably partly rebuilding and repairing post war damage) parents wanted their children to have what they hadn’t been able to have during those very lean years. There was a genuine feeling of happiness being able to give your children things as described by some old people I have spoken to about this ( I’m a Social Worker working with older people).
Unfortunately the side effect of this natural over compensating has been the gradual production of a more and more greedy must-have society; not helped by massively over inflated housing costs.
It makes me crazy that few individual members of society seem to want to accept any responsibility for the so-called “credit crunch” and arguably the invention of the credit card has been one of the worse inventions of all time. Do people think they are spending real money when they use one? Unfortunately credit cards make it so easy to have things now and think ( or even not think) about the consequences afterwards.
It’s easy to blame the bank for offering credit cards to people so freely but tell me what business doesn’t do the same when it sees consumers eager for something it produces? People have choices.
Here’s a few figures for you – taken from here –
- “The UK average for personal debt is £7,388.”
- “The data looked at the average owed on debt such as credit cards, loans, store cards and overdrafts.” so not mortgages
- “One in four people in Britain are using over 40 per cent of their wages each month just to pay off non-mortgage debt”
- “Total UK personal debt at the end of July 2011 stood at £1,451 billion.”
- “UK banks and building societies wrote off £8 billion of loans to individuals in the four quarters to end Q2 2011. In Q2 2011 they wrote off £2.06 billion (£1.15 billion of that was credit card debt). This amounts to a write-off of £22.54million a day”
Makes staggering reading doesn’t it and there’s more on the website. I don’t know if these figures are completely accurate but would you be surprised if they were? I wouldn’t .
Is it too late to go back to a society that saves for what it wants and is satisfied with less?
It looks like society will have no choice.
I have to end on a silly note to cheer myself up a bit and hopefully you all too.. I took the photograph below in Cambridge on Friday.. I had noticed where the busker was sitting and waited for the right moment when his mouth was in just the right position…had to be quick though!… I hope it makes you smile.
OPEN WIDE ——
See you on Photomania during the week or on here next week. Saturday Girl signing off. Hope you have a good week.