7/11/2005

Crimes of the Market: Part I

Earlier this evening, ITV's flagship current affairs show 'Tonight with Trevor McDonald' broadcast a special on the burgeoning problem of identity theft.
The spectre of identity theft now hovers over all indirect transactions conducted through third parties such as credit card companies. The show's reporter Mark Jordan produced an absolutely astonishing statistic, that there are now more credit cards in circulation in the UK than the country has people.
The first credit card was launched in the UK in the late 1960's, and they were initially the preserve of those whose preserve they should be, those with sufficient means or income to be able to make the payments. However since 1979 their use has exploded, and people are starting to drown in debt. There are more and more tragic cases such as those of the late Dereck Rawson and Richard Cullen being reported, and nobody seems to ask why.
The reason why, of course, is that, like the USA, the UK's economy is driven not by what we produce but instead by what we consume. Call me an old Buchananite but when Pat says that a strong manufacturing sector is necessary for the survival of nations, as no nation can remain independent if it is not self-sufficient in what it consumes, he is telling the truth. Our leaders have adopted the policies of globalism and internationalism with open arms. The principal beneficiaries of these policies are the corporate interests which back them up and which are not interested in the survival of nations and culture but only lowest cost, highest profit and trading environments.
And in their pseudo-socialist world there are no 'Brits' or 'Americans', only 'consumers' and 'markets'. We are all the same, so it does not matter where we live, or how many of us live in the same place. It does not matter if those who move cannot speak the language of the area they are moving to. It does not matter if they bring with them hostile religions or cultural practices which seem barbaric to those amongst whom they desire to live.
In a society which needs consumption in order to function, anything which helps the consumer to consume can only be good. In the aftermath of 9/11, George W. Bush told America to go - shopping.
In the UK, this consumerism is reflected in the enormous profits posted by British banks such as HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland. The concept of any British corporation making £8 billion of profit would have seemed absurd 30 years ago, even adjusted for inflation - now, hardly anyone bats an eyelid.
But increased identity theft is a direct consequence of consumerism fostered at the expense of independence. If individuals take advantage of credit deals which would have been beyond their wildest dreams of affording on the equivalent wages of 30 years ago, and then take more of them, they increase their exposure to the risk of someone stealing their details and taking more credit in their name.
The individual's identity is the one thing which cannot be taken from them. Identity is even more precious than liberty, as any reasonable prison governor would probably tell you. If the individual has no control over how their identity is used, and it is used without their consent then that individual is being violated - a violation which is the direct consequence of central economic policy.

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