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The Forces For and Against Change

Following an email from Neil Croft of Authenticis, I found myself looking at the websites www.positivemoney.org.uk (a campaign to "fix the banking system so that it works for society and not against it") and www.bendyson.com. Ben Dyson (not bendy son!) is driving a campaign to bring change in the way our banking system operates. We may desperately need change, but bringing it about will requires an understanding of the powerful forces AGAINST change and effectiveness in mobilising the forces FOR change.

Dyson convincingly argues with powerful data that the banking crisis and government bailout has serious implications for society and for the next generation. It is interesting that legislation around control of the printing of money was created long before the digital age. Most money today is digital, not paper and metal. This means private banks can legally produce more money at an accelerating pace and create instability as we've seen recently.

It can all seem very complex but the simple fact we need to be concerned about is the privatisation of profits and socialisation of losses. The banks (their shareholders) get to keep the money they make from risky speculation but if they lose too much, we ALL have to pay for it via more public debt and reduced public investment.

Banks are the most heavily subsidised businesses in the world because the functioning of society depends upon money. Dyson advocates putting control of money production back with the government so that the money made isn't just benefiting a few at the expense of the many.

Now I'm a psychologist, not an economist. I don't pretend to understand economics, although I've grown to appreciate that psychology plays a key role in economics (as revealed in terms like "market sentiment").

What interests me is the challenge facing people like Ben Dyson, agitating for change. On the face of it, his arguments seem sound and so I support this cause. At the same time, it won't be easy. There are many powerful vested interests able to mobilise resources to resist change. There has been a huge outcry about bank bailouts, but cynicism, ignorance and helplessness among the people can keep us stuck.

There is one difference now.

There is an opportunity to mobilise people via social media. The right kind of communication from the right people reaching the enough people can bring change with breathtaking speed and power.

Two good examples are the election of Barack Obama in 2008, and the forced resignation of the Egyptian President last week. As the momentum built, it became unstoppable and attempts to stop it (e.g. shutting down social networks in Egypt) only made people more resolute.

If the current banking system is unsustainable, we should all be sufficiently aware and concerned to push for change, particularly if we care what happens for the next generation.

The words of Lily Tomlin seem apt: "I said 'Somebody should do something about that.' Then I realized I am somebody."

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