Razer's Class Warfare

Apr 26, 2018

Razer: you can act appalled by the banks, but you’re ignoring the real issue

Don't believe the politicians and pundits: denouncing the banks for bad behaviour is nothing more than attempts to play into a grand illusion.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

This, apparently, is a moment that brings "shocking revelations", "shame" and dishonour, especially to dead diggers. Local media’s most unsurprising outlets have been reacting with daily surprise to reports of the royal commission into banking. Surprise might not describe your response to news that the national economy’s most powerful sector doesn’t always produce extreme private debt in a nice way. But, it may be the sincere response of many journalists.

Who knows? Perhaps some commentators are so truly forgetful that they can be be truly surprised each day. Perhaps disgust, surprise, and outrage are symptoms of a virus contracted in newsrooms. Perhaps a database hiccup at News Corp directs all internal searches for the 2008 financial crisis to Madonna’s divorce settlement. I dunno. Doesn’t matter. What does matter is that surprise, whether cynical or naïve, is a very sound means of reviving dominant order.

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11 thoughts on “Razer: you can act appalled by the banks, but you’re ignoring the real issue

  1. Nudiefish

    Good piece, Razer!

    That several dozen adults could profess surprise at the Bank’s shenanigans suggest that they are either complete liars or complete idiots. They can pick their own category between the two.

  2. Dog's Breakfast

    Couldn’t agree more Helen. The resort to ‘surprise’ and ‘appalled’ is a mere fancy to hide the fact that they knew what was going on all along, and just didn’t want the plebs to know.

    Of course, there is ScoMo, who has good claims to being surprised. He displays almost no understanding of how the economy or business works, particularly big business. He is still under the illusion that giving big business tax reductions will lead to increased wages. He has strong claims to not knowing, it is in fact his default position.

    Cormann mouths the same, but as he is much smarter than ScoMo I have to assume that he is fully aware of his bullshitting.

    Turnbull, yeah well, I’m sure he knew, and like all his corporate mates, thinks that is actually good for the country for the big end of town to shaft the little people remorselessly.

    The disconnect is vast, so vast that the contemplation of it can lead to nirvana. Buddha could only envisage multiple universes piled on top of one another.

  3. bref

    While I agree with the thrust of your article, I would pick you up on one point. The amount of vacant homes might outnumber the homeless, HR, but not the buyer market. From my reading Australia is some several hundreds of thousands dwellings short of the market. The shire I live in almost prides itself for not having had a major rezoning since 1988, with the result that even a small home is now over $1m. Anyway the number of homes for sale (unless you’re advocating that vacant home owners give them away) doesn’t affect the number of homeless persons. A great number of homeless could be housed if our govt went back to the kind of social housing we had before and after WWII (and still exists in Europe).

    1. Coralien

      “The amount of vacant homes might outnumber the homeless, HR, but not the buyer market.”
      The buyer market, comprising of;
      Wealthy 1st home buyers?
      Wealthy 2nd, 3rd, 4th, home buyers/investors.
      Struggling, 1st home buyers, who have to pay more for a home because every sale is a bidders market. (Even in outer suburbs of major cities.)
      The old days of ‘gazumping’ being illegal, has flown out the window.
      If you want a home that goes over your budget (due to bidding war) then you pay extra $10K +/- for insurance that is provided & underwritten by some other Bank/Ins overseas, thereby reducing the bank’s chance of being caught with the hassle of collecting their money.

      What I’d like to know is;
      How did the banks get away with this?
      Too big to fail?
      How many politicians have known this all along & were happy to turn a blind eye?

      1. bref

        I happen to agree with you Coralien, that its a ridiculous how expensive home ownership is in this country. Especially because of all countries on earth, we should definitely not be one with a housing shortage. Forget what all the vested interested are saying are the reasons for home affordability, theres only one major reason – lack of stock. Supply & demand. As much as we’d like to blame the banks for the price of housing, most of the blame should actually go to the politicians who have let this happen.
        If councils all around the country were forced to rezone land to such an extent as to lower prices in their region, that would make a huge difference. If we had social housing for those who still can’t afford a home, that would make a huge difference. Maybe the trillion of dollars in the super fund could be freed up to invest in low cost housing, that would make a huge difference.
        Its a bit rich that people wax lyrical about the villages all over Europe, how cosy the village squares are, etc, but think about it, almost all of those places have 4 & 5 storey dwellings in the centres where even the poorest can afford to buy or rent, or be eligible to social housing. Look at any town centre in Australia, you’ll see none of these things, if theres a village square at all it’ll be surrounded by shops not housing and everyone lives in suburbs which expansion to absorb higher populations is controlled by councils.

  4. Peter Wileman

    Your point will be further strengthened when, as the dust settles, not one of the criminals will serve porridge.

  5. Smit

    Count the number of ex-bankers in the Cabinet. “I am shocked, shocked” : head of police in the movie Casablanca just before being handed his winnings from illegal gambling.

  6. AR

    The pantomime of pollies being ‘schlocked’ by the RC revelations is only credible if we think that they are not too dumb but too obsessed with what they can rort.
    I’m sure that neither is true – they are all fine, stalwart upright citizens seeking only to serve the common weal to the best of their abilities and eschewing the bigbuck$ they could make … somewhere else – but they leave one gasping to explain, in the hold card light of morn, WTF?

  7. klewso

    Much of our media was just as against this inquiry as the Limited News Party they pimp for – because of the potential for embarrassing revelations of what unfettered capitalism/free market forces actually deliver. It’s not as though there hasn’t been a steady leak of facts about what’s been happening.
    ….. How much are these gold-fish minded members of our media being paid for their opinions as news, after being promoted to such editorial positions to limit/frame what we get to see?

  8. Ruv Draba

    Helen, I agree it’s systemic, but I don’t agree with the way you’ve described the system, and don’t accept the way you claim to ‘know’ which politicians already knew without ever being able to say how it could be independently tested that you were wrong.

    It’s systemic because when you can integrate already-obfuscated financial services you can cross-sell and up-sell more easily; you can target vulnerable consumers with offers (like the rort that is funeral insurance) that cannier customers would never buy; and there’s not enough transparency to create the necessary market knowledge to create proper accountability. That’s a failure of regulation which in turn is either a failure to understand how markets use information, or negligence in the face of that knowledge (but person by person, how can we be sure which?)

    I agree with you that issue is not one of ‘bad-apple’ executives within the banks, but disagree that it’s one of banking itself: it’s actually a property of poorly-regulated middle-man industries of any kind. Nor is it intrinsically (as BK recently argued) a property of capitalism and free markets; any unsupervised middle-man industry can screw both ends, including publicly-run markets like (say) a National Water Market, publicly-run land-grant systems, public Wool Boards, the de facto labour markets traditionally run by unions and so on. Middle-man industries (also known as ‘Value Networks‘) need public transparency in order to be both fair and efficient, and must be scrupulously and independently monitored — even in a public system.

    The magical thinking on the economic right is that free markets keep obfuscation from becoming corruption. The magical thinking on the economic left is that only the private sector engages in cronyism to privilege a few.

    Historically and systemically, neither is true.

    But the magical thinking is so endemic on both sides that the whole argument rapidly becomes a ludicrous war of tin-foil hat conspiracy-mongering, and so that key lessons can be lost.

    It’s no more legitimate to assume that Hn Ms O’Dwyer isn’t shocked by systemic banking corruption than do what the right often does, and assume that no union delegate is shocked by union corruption. If you don’t scrutinise the system itself and the way it uses information, it’s too easy to look at your own turf as a few Bad Apples amid the generally Good Eggs and to be generally surprised when the exploitation is rife. So the shock may be real, simply because of the biases in the viewer.

    You’d be right to say the right is blinkered, but the left is too. Which is why ideological rock-chucking and sanctimonious ‘I told you sos’ are a waste of time, while tinfoil hat insinuations are probably unfair, and in any case don’t represent due diligence on the subject.

  9. covenanter

    This is about “wealth”, right?
    So, when making his famous inquiry into the nature and causes of wealth, that famous philosopher might have gotten it right when he wrote that a certain order of individuals in the wealth creating economy had “an interest to deceive and oppress the public”?
    And having done so through the medium of the parliament in the past would do so again in the future.
    Recent revelations seem to have proven Adam Smith right.
    That not many interested people seem to be aware of Smith’s warnings can be put down a continuing successful deception and oppression of the public?

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