Tuesday 17 June 2014

Are we changing?

As we move forward away from the recession we seemed to have uncovered a world of far reaching smokescreens and mirrors with an in excess of conflicting self-interests. This has magnified a blurred sense of right and wrong justifying poor conduct in an economic system that is fast losing its sense of purpose. Another hot topic this time in the football world that caught my interest is the subject of corruption. This prompted me to ask a friend of mine, a professor in finance in how he would define the meaning of corruption. He came out with a stunning thought provoking definition:

At the expense of the common good, consciously compromising one's principles or timeless ethical standards in pursuit of personal interests

One could almost deduce that based on this meaning, corruption remains ripe and is everywhere. This is seemingly more apparent in politics and in business with many falling victims from perpetrators whilst most are apathetic, in an economic system that many might argue is in free-fall compounded by a minority in business, the media, intermediaries, leaders and politicians at the top causing harm in a human race with such a poor outlook where even our most basic of universal principles such as reciprocity, trust and integrity have vanished in a puff of smoke.

The European Commission argues corruption is costing our economy €120 billion annually yet this is a narrow view related solely to fraud and bribery when in fact the above definition is related to something so much deeper that being our moral interior. €120 billion is just the tip of the iceberg. Our belief, our value system our conscience, our strength of character, our capacity to serve, to teach, to encourage, to lead and contribute to the needs of others has been pulled into the opposite direction by external perhaps inexplicable forces which are really and truly narrowed down to personal or self- interests.

What do I mean by interests? No doubt many large corporations and businesses that work with smokescreens and mirrors have no clear understanding or can distinguish between interests and needs with regard to what they do and their employees. This may have helped lose sight of themselves or their purpose in life. By contrast psychologists from Freud to Maslow clearly differentiate the two describing interests as short term and superficial even transitory whilst needs are basic and far more long lasting. You could say that interests are tangible things like land, jobs or money and they can be compromised or traded. Whereas needs are more intangible and hidden, far more significant such as our identity, security, respect or recognition and are simply not for trading. If we make a fuss over our personal interests rather than real needs and build a mountain out of a mole hill, well then we have simply not matured or evolved as human beings. As a friend of mine poignantly said 'If I want to have a bigger garden, is it the dog in me that will dictate or is it my master?'

Let’s take the stock market for example. This measurement system has simply lost its long term serving benefit that it once had and has instead become tyrannically abused by short sighted wealthy and powerful speculators that are only interested in their short term gain with no higher purpose except one’s own. This is having a devastating perhaps even psychological impact on listed companies which is a true test of their character when making long term decisions. This corrupt out dated and beleaguered system has evidently played havoc in our lives and resulted in a culture of short term insecurity rather than long term fulfillment.

Recently a seasoned US commodity trader with his own business paid a visit to my office and pointed out that the High frequency trading technology used by large Investment banks was impacting smaller traditional traders such as his as it was so fast that the mid prices on the screens became blurred. He could not do his job properly as he was up against superior technology. These machines were sometimes conveniently located as close as possible to the central servers to reduce the time available owned by those who could afford them. Is this how desperate and childish we have become?

A senior Banker mentioned to me in horror that Bonds are now the hottest thing on the market. Corporate bonds that are nicely packaged and passed around and no doubt will be nicely laid into colourful looking funds creating nothing from nothing. Déjàs Vu? A good name for this game could be ‘musical debts’ where you pass the debt by dancing round in circles and cracking over the champagne.  What happens when the music stops?

In an intrinsically corrupt economic system it is very difficult for the weak or for any of us for that matter to rise up and assume responsibility and even the fittest can feel vulnerable. Nevertheless there are always solutions and a chance to show our true colours. We need visionaries for change, visionaries with true character that can lead us away from the devastating impact of the consumer debt culture. Political leaders with the courage that is willing to make sacrifices not for their personal ambition but for the greater and common good.  We need employees in the work place that find the strength to stand up if need be to their bosses when they sense that something is not right. More transparency must be needed in how we make our money. We need people that understand that it is not taxes and regulation or a nanny state that is the answer which instead crowds us out. We need people that care for the needs in our society, the vulnerable, and the ever enlarging widening inequality gap and for our environment. We need people that understand that the race for growth in this economic war carries absolutely no meaning that builds our system on sand and not on rock. We need people that also understand that economic exploitation is cruel to humanity, and that we are not units nor are we a cost not part of a capital group. We need an attitude that wealth creation in its purest form from the cradle to the grave is not an innate right. On this matter, I am surprised neither Forbes nor Fortune has yet to come out with rich lists on who has the most expensive graves!!

In short my hope is that one day we find a way to move away from our debt consumption fuelled economy that has trapped our culture into a new era of real freedom and empowerment unleashing humanities ingenuity. As unique individuals willing to contribute including our footballers, we deserve to be respected for our talent and treated with dignity, deserving of a more fulfilling and creative future where there is a place for each and every one of us.

Dignity is a universal right for all


  1. You're a French speaker, correct? It's "Déjà Vu", not "Dejas vous". It means "already seen". :-)