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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mark Steel: Let's ask florists for a credit rating

"Governments should be made to recite their policies in front of a panel on TV every Saturday."

The Daily Mail, still trying to attract my attention. All right. Questions to Which the Answer is No...Here's my question about economics – why should it send countries into panic when the bankers make pronouncements about countries' credit ratings, as they did yesterday? You could choose any layer of society at random and most people would trust them more than bankers, so it would make more sense if the BBC News started, "Private sector growth must be the priority for Europe, said the scouts today, although canoeists and wrestlers disagreed, and there was strong opposition from people with fetishes that involve celery. Robert Peston, what does this mean for the Government's inflation target?"

And banks aren't neutral observers, they're banks – the people who caused the mess. It's like someone who's wet themselves in a public building insisting they choose which mop the librarian fetches to clear up the puddle.

But the future of Europe has been entrusted to finance companies and institutions such as the IMF, and governments agree that the most crucial part of any strategy is to keep the financial markets happy. Otherwise, the government becomes helpless, as if they're stood by a cashpoint machine that tells them: "You have insufficient funds. Please contact the IMF for instructions."

So we might as well ask the IMF and banks to make all our decisions to start with, and not bother with the hassle of holding elections. We should at least make this process entertaining, and make governments recite their suggested policies in front of a panel from the financial markets, every Saturday night on ITV. Then someone from Goldman Sachs can say, "David and George you were MARVELLOUS, cutting pensions is delightful and, as you were shutting libraries, I could FEEL you growing. Next week, I'd like to see you try a little cut in the top rate of tax, just to show you can do it. I know you can do it with just a bit more practise. I'm giving you NINE."

Maybe the problem is, by some sort of coincidence, that all the people who run the financial institutions we have to keep content are rich. So it might be more democratic if the directors of these companies were chosen at random by lottery numbers. Seeing as they make all the decisions, it seems fair they should be run by a cross-section of the society affected by those decisions.

This would be much more representative of public feeling, as we were told on the news, say, "The head of Deloitte & Touche today gave his sternest warning yet on executive pay after studying the figures, saying 'HOW MUCH DID YOU SWIPE, YOU THIEVING GREEDY PARASITE, HOW MUCH, HOW BLOODY MUCH? YOU COULD BUY EVERYONE IN EUROPE A CURRY FOR THAT, YOU BURGLAR.' We're going over live to the Bank of England where the governor, Joyce the florist from Sheffield, is about to give her reaction to this statement in a press conference."

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