My father died when I was 15, so I never really had an opportunity to go down to the 'local' with him, but my brother, David, told me the following story:
"Pop took me down to the pub and bought me a drink, then pointed out a bloke and got me to describe him: 'skinny build, clothes a bit crumpled, dirty shoes, drinking pints of mild'. Then he pointed out another guy and got me to describe him, too: 'well built, nice suit and shoes, drinking whiskies'. Pop said 'the first man is what we call a punter and the second is known as a bookie. The bookie takes money from the punter. Remember, the odds are in favour of the house - it is the bookie who gets rich'."
I am reminded of this story as we read of people loosing their shirts, their jobs and their homes. The directors of the old established Building Societies were seduced into persuading their members that their society should become a bank. The members, knowing no better and tempted by the promise of a few hundred pounds as windfall, went along with it.
It is ironic that, as the government steps in, many of those members who held onto their shares are amongst the shareholders who are 'punished' for their corporate greed.
All the Building Societies are gone now. They had stopped lending money that they had and became banks, lending money they did not have, joining in the intoxicating merry-go-round of the global money markets.
But when the music stopped, there were not enough chairs to go round. Those that were left were already occupied by the corpulent gentlemen in the nice suits - not just ahead of the game, but owning the game. The house wins again.
Posted by Nicholas Moore 12:52:03 AM