OUT OF ESSEX – Chapter 25
The more we do to you, the less you seem to believe we are doing it
God sat with Maggie, enjoying chamomile tea, Viennese wafers and a live stream from the House of Commons. One of the UK’s senior politicians, Dennis Skinner, stood up. “Remember him?” asked the Creator.
“The Bully of Bolsover,” said Maggie. Hair shining, eyes sparkling. She sported a white martial arts outfit.
In London, Skinner looked equally well. Back straight, silver hair intact after 43 years of heckling Prime Ministers of all parties, he had spelled out his motivations after Maggie’s death. “We have to look out for those people who haven’t got two halfpennies to rub together,” Dennis had proclaimed. Now, he introduced his topic as “the many injustices that have been meted out by ATOS in the last few years”. Schoolboy noises filled the chamber.
ATOS had removed benefits from one of Skinner’s constituents, who had died from terminal cancer, appeal still pending. Skinner looked at Prime Minister Cameron like gum on his shoe. Cameron acknowledged “a desperately sad case”; but stressed how the “whole issue of work capability assessments” was introduced by Labour.
God asked for Maggie’s thoughts. “Dennis swung a strong punch. David kept his balance, and span back the force of Dennis’ attack,” she replied.
God dunked a wafer. It was time for some education. “Maggie, why on earth would Britain, or any other country, sell its public utilities?” she said.
Maggie’s mind flashed momentarily to Victor Rothschild’s ‘advisory’ role throughout her premiership. “From death’s perspective”, she said, “I can see that Britain built a welfare society that raised everybody’s quality of life. Free education and healthcare, transport subsidies, cheap energy and water, and a flat rate universal postal service.”
God bounded in. “And now look at it. One consequence of the ‘free market’ you jump-started is that some poorer people cannot afford to heat their houses. Another is that Britain looks suspiciously like a colony being bought and sold by corporations and foreign governments.” Maggie wondered if God knew the pain of a karate kick. She looked at the screens. A 7.2 magnitude earthquake was shaking the Philippines. “What are you saying then?” asked Maggie. “That capitalism and private business are worthless?”
Her stubbornness, drawn from 254 past lives, reminded God of Moses. “Absolutely not,” she replied, sipping more tea. “Free markets have advanced mankind tremendously. Just think Microsoft, Google, Apple – the whole electronic communications schtick. Making life easier, cheaper, and generating fantastic profits for those with the balls to invest early. Good private companies live or die by their ideas. A bit like me. Don’t ever confuse them with parasitic investors that suck the marrow from former public utilities.”
As God suggested capitalism had developed an “all-consuming” nature, Maggie recalled how ‘Lord Vic’ ran the Central Policy Review Staff, her government’s think tank, despite nominally being a Labour peer. “Look how Wikipedia is manipulated by the corporations it describes,” God stressed. “Image management firms are terrified of information flowing freely, so they police every page mentioning their clients, 24/7.”
She stared Maggie down. “Never again think about kicking me.” Maggie nodded, meekly. God’s voice was icier. “So, let’s calmly examine the largest British privatisation in two decades, the Royal Mail.”
Her disgust was plain. “Firstly, consider the banks which handled the thing: Goldman Sachs and UBS.” Maggie twigged immediately. UBS had been fined almost £1 billion for rigging the Libor rate. And yes, Goldman Sachs. “Quite so,” said God. “Everyone involved easily able to bend their mind around rigging a market.”
She was shaking her head. “By my calculation, the taxpayer was cheated out of almost £3 billion, due to the ridiculously low sale price. And 300 firms in the City and overseas bought two thirds of the stock. Is that the share-owning democracy you talked up back in the day?” No reply from Maggie. “But hey, those precious lads in the City made profits. Lovely jubbly! Shall we dance around the table, while British customers have to pay more for exactly the same service, and the employees have to lift their productivity?”
Venom now in her voice. “Do you think Chancellor Osborne would sell his mother for the right price? I ask only because 80% of Plasma Resources UK (PRUK) has been flogged to Bain Capital.” PRUK turned plasma, the fluid that holds white and red blood cells in suspension, into life-saving treatments for immune deficiencies, neurological diseases and haemophilia. “Strategically important for British people. Agreed?”
Bain Capital, run by American politician Mitt Romney, regularly ripped apart companies that it purchased, ‘deconstructing’ the assets for every last cent of profit. Maggie could picture Romney howling with laughter that he held the “life blood” of the UK in his hands. Fondly, she thought back to when enlightened employers pursued training and staff development.
God got up. Pacing, glancing at screens. “I haven’t even mentioned Michael Gove.” The Secretary of State for Education was espousing performance-related pay for teachers. “Braindead doesn’t start to describe a society that thinks to make education into a business.”
Maggie took the hits. She had started the ball rolling. God swigged from a water bottle, unleashing a grimace. “How about we apply performance-related criteria to politicians?” she suggested. “Most would be unemployed or heading to food banks. Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband would sit on a fence somewhere. Osborne would clean windscreens during traffic jams.” God thought fondly of Dawn Landais. “Iain Duncan-Smith would flip burgers, Gove fold towels and Cameron stack shelves. Never forget that these creeps were elected to serve the people, not themselves, or their corporate sponsors.”
God was tottering between laughter and despair. “Despite their corruption and incompetence, the jokers and clowns I have ranted about are atop the UK totem pole. So, I have invented a new name for the whole gamut of politicians, aristocrats, bankers, brokers, lawyers, accountants, investors, corporations, lobbyists, journalists and spin-doctors that proclaim the ‘profit at all costs’ mantra and keep the UK’s economic casino wheel turning.”
Weighing her words. “Initially, I inclined towards ‘kleptocracy’, given the shameless thieving afoot.” Maggie recalled the phrase was coined for Mobutu, America’s puppet in the former Belgian Congo. “But these weasels need something more stigmatic. Eventually I decided upon ‘crapocracy’ as the most suitable term.”
Maggie asked if God saw this ‘crapocracy’ – a term she hated – as being confined to London. “Trust me they are global. Many gather in London because it remains the biggest centre for transnational financial activities. But these clowns and creeps gravitate in swathes each year to Davos, in Switzerland, where they discuss the corporate global agenda.”
God glared at Maggie. “Never forget you helped get it all launched.” The ‘liberalisation’ of finance had mushroomed under Maggie and Ronald Reagan. Global financial assets had climbed from $12 trillion in 1980 to an estimated $142 trillion by 2005, about three times the planet’s estimated GDP. Harry Enfield’s infamous ‘loadsamoney’ character – who riffled banknotes in front of the homeless – was an early symbol. By 2013, some estimates said the figure had somehow grown to at least 10 times the global GDP value. Others doubled that.
“Remember Glenda Jackson’s words after your demise?” God asked. “Sharp elbows and sharp knees were the way forward,” said a humbled Maggie.
“You know you rubber-stamped greed and selfishness with your bloody aspirational society,” God hissed. “A society in which people knew the price of everything and the value of nothing. And now steered by a vile, thieving crapocracy, that only a few, like Dennis Skinner, will stand up to.”
She exhaled. “But listen, we all screw up. Mea culpa, for sure.” She looked sad. “Did you see that Boy Scouts in Britain no longer need pledge their allegiance to me? But they still promise to serve the monarch.” Maggie felt everything was messed up, before God produced her darkest insight.
“All of these clever ‘crapocrats’ with their swelling piles of assets, are ignoring the karmic consequences. As the plunder increases, and services and cash benefits for the least advantaged are ripped away, the buffers between upper and lower orders are disappearing. The looted public purse means that there are already less police to protect them if rioting starts. Thanks to Boris, fewer firefighters in London, fewer ambulances. If they manage to get to hospital after their mansions burn down, maybe no blood plasma?” Maggie was transfixed.
God said the ‘crapocracy’ was safe, for the time being. “The poorest have little fight left. Some will die of cold this winter, but you won’t read about that, or the number of ATOS-related deaths.” Maggie knew though. Eventually, once stomachs ached, in cold houses, there would be little left to lose. God nodded. “It won’t be pretty, but if the lust continues for private profit at any price, you may see murder on British streets, maybe hangings.” Like the French revolution, thought Maggie.
God looked ashen. Maggie never thought she would say it. “Could a Labour government change things sufficiently?” God rewarded this bravery, striding across and hugging Maggie. “They might shuffle a few deckchairs on the sinking ship. But Labour lacks the vision to tackle the bigger problem.”
“What about 1966?” Maggie asked.
Sensing Maggie’s very urgent and very odd need for an answer, God allowed a brief thematic diversion. “You have mentioned that year before – why is it relevant?” She looked at Maggie. No reply.
“1966. OK….Well, you will remember how a Labour government was re-elected under Harold Wilson.” God cast back more. “Obviously an interesting year. My personal highlight would be three superb new musical albums. Blonde on Blonde, Revolver and Pet Sounds.” She thought harder. “There was certainly a new spirit in the air, a promise of better things ahead, although the Rolling Stones reminded us all of the darker side, with their singles: Paint It Black, Mother’s Little Helper and 19th Nervous Breakdown.”
Seeing Maggie struggling to form words, God continued. “Let’s see now. You and Denis lived in Kent. A mock-Tudor house with a large garden. And you were catching people’s eyes in the Conservative party, and in certain other circles.” God waited, but Maggie couldn’t seem to find any lucidity. She kept looking at God’s hand. There was something wrong with it.
After a further silence, God pushed on. It was time to paint the ‘elephant in the room’, the pervasive and malign force that silently entangled and strangled planet Earth. “Fundamentally, money is debt,” said God, wondering if Maggie would understand. “The finance system in which every Brit is enmeshed pivots around interest-paying debt.”
Unable to connect dots, Maggie stayed in character. “Perhaps a new political party would sort that out.” God’s warmth lingered on her.
“Ideologies have never worked well. Nor has privately-owned money.” God sketched the elephant’s outlines. “The dollar, pound and euro are not currencies – they are debt instruments, backed by nothing, and tied at the hip to private central banking cartels. Any government that cannot issue its own money, debt-free, cannot control affairs, and cannot be sovereign.” No reaction from Maggie. “When was a democratic decision ever made to issue money that carries interest?” God enquired. “Debt is an instrument of empire, which sucks back more than it provides.”
Seeing Maggie’s blank face, God’s metaphors deepened. “Banks are the feudal lords that run the empire’s debt machine, passing the money out to the feudal knights – corporates and governments – at low rates, and to smaller borrowers at higher rates. At the bottom of this stateless empire, most individuals tread a hamster wheel, serf-like, to repay their own debt and pay taxes that cover their government’s debt. Most governments are so broke that they cannot even fund their pension schemes.”
The tragedy was “twofold”, said God. As well as continually transferring wealth to the rich, the empire was hostile to the nature of the soul, leaving little room for balance, joy, reflection, rest, love, family and community. Hence, less than 10% of the G20 populations now believed in reincarnation, she moaned. Maggie probed. “Can one get rid of debt that pays interest, if that is the problem you claim?”
The answer shocked her. “Two of America’s most-beloved presidents who tried were murdered.” Maggie’s eyes narrowed. “You might be God, but I’ll need proof that JFK and Abe Lincoln died for that reason.” God took her hand. Crossing the room, they sat by a side screen that doubled as Heaven’s Internet. Goldilocks brought them fruit juices.
The Akashic files were astoundingly detailed; and worked faster than light. Maggie read the summary. “During the Civil war – when the Confederacy seceded – private bankers offered to fund Lincoln at interest rates of around 30%. Determined not to plunge his country into a debt that would be unpayable, Lincoln persuaded Congress to fund the war effort by issuing full legal tender Treasury notes. Nicknamed Greenbacks – like dollars now – due to the green ink on the back.”
She read on. “Lincoln printed $449 million worth of debt-free and interest-free Greenbacks. He paid soldiers and civil service employees; and bought war supplies. When the Union won, he said Greenbacks would continue. He was killed shortly afterwards.”
A voracious reader, Maggie remembered theories of a conspiracy behind Lincoln’s death. God opened another file. “The culprits.” A photograph of six clean-shaven individuals. Arrogant faces. Starched collars. Dark suits. Maggie read more: “Congress revoked the Greenback Law and enacted, in its place, the National Banking Act. Under this, national banks were to be privately owned, issuing interest bearing notes. The Act also provided that Greenbacks should be retired from circulation once they returned to the Treasury.”
Shortly afterwards, the London Times printed the following: “If that mischievous financial policy, which had its origin in the North American Republic, should become indurated down to a fixture, then that Government will furnish its own money without cost. It will pay off debts and be without a debt. It will have all the money necessary to carry on its commerce. It will become prosperous beyond precedent in the history of the civilized governments of the world. The brains and the wealth of all countries will go to North America. That government must be destroyed, or it will destroy every monarchy on the globe.”
God jumped in again. “Think about this. After Lincoln’s assassination, the Jesuits were forbidden certain privileges in the United States. Two US presidents were assassinated after Lincoln. James Garfield and William McKinley. Both opposed central banking.” Maggie’s thoughts span, as God continued. “America’s very own ‘crapocracy’ showed its hand long ago. Although Lincoln was the first president to be assassinated, Andrew Jackson survived an attempt in 1835. Jackson blocked the renewal of the charter for the country’s second private central bank, opting instead for the sovereign state printing interest- and debt-free paper money.”
Maggie butted in. “Can I please think about this?” She went slowly. “So, in most financial systems, the money circulating is interest-bearing debt, created and, I see it now, literally rented out by central and commercial banks.” God butted in. “Over 95% of money is debt”. Maggie proceeded. “So, let us say I am a private banker. I lend £100 at 5% for one year; and receive £105 when it is repaid. By receiving that extra £5 of ‘interest’ I plunge somebody, somewhere else in the wider economy, into a struggle to repay a separate £5 debt arrear.”
Quickly it cohered. “On this basis, there is never quite enough money in circulation to repay all debt, because principal is always less then principal plus interest. When a borrower cannot repay, which is more common when the debt supply shrinks, the lenders come to claim his or her property, or other collateral, as recompense for the unpaid interest. Which never existed until the loan was created.”
“Musical chairs,” said God. “The debt pushers look on, fully in control, renting out the money, pulling wealth from the masses, watching coldly as chairs are snatched away. Letting them vote red or blue, in an illusion of choice that distracts from the monetary prison. Money is not unlike the chips in a casino system, where the house takes a guaranteed percentage.”
Maggie got it completely. “Whether governments prefer welfare or warfare, fresh debt is created, sucking money from the future. Hence most of the planet lives in relative or full scarcity.”
Urgency thickened God’s voice. “We are generalising details, but is this a good system to live under? Lincoln thought not. Islam’s Sharia laws also fiercely oppose the charging of interest. Think of how the pressure on almost every world citizen, company and government would ease if no interest occurs when loans are created.”
Maggie flashed to Jesus’ anger in the temple. She tried to imagine his fury at the UK’s ‘payday’ lenders, some of which charged thousands of percent if repayments fell behind.
God was pacing again. “This insanity is how economies work – participants constantly chasing more loans to pay existing loans. At root, economic growth is less about productivity or innovation, and more about whether more companies and governments borrow, and whether people increase their credit card debts, mortgages, student loans and so on. Inflation – and deflation – depend chiefly upon those factors.” She told Maggie that total world debt – public and private – now stood at well over 200% of GDP. In 2008, when it helped cause the financial crisis, the figure was 174%.
“And Kennedy?” Maggie was thinking about the coincidental dates of JFK’s assassination on 22 November 1963, and her own political toppling on 22 November 1990. God elucidated. “When John F. Kennedy came into office, he understood exactly how the Fed worked, and famously warned against secretive organisations. On June 4, 1963, he signed Executive Order 11110, giving the US President legal clearance to create his own money to run the country. He issued $4.29 billion in cash. He was assassinated in November 1963. Shortly afterwards, all the notes issued by JFK were withdrawn from circulation.”
Maggie looked at the Akashic file. It cited meetings in early 1963 where it was planned that Kennedy would be killed if he pressed ahead with his agenda, which included opposition to invading Vietnam. The participants contained several banking mafiosos who had clashed with Joseph Kennedy, JFK’s father. At the back stood George HW Bush, then in the CIA.
God prevented Maggie’s thoughts settling. “Do you think any politician could overturn the Bank of England in favour of an interest-free, state-run Central Bank?”
The benefits “would be massive”, said God. “It is the sort of ‘Middle Way’ solution that Buddha recommends. Think of the extra hospital projects that could be built. Under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), it already costs £3 to park as hospitals strive to repay PFI loans.”
A picture formed. “People and businesses would still go bankrupt,” said Maggie, “but the most remorseless pressures would be removed.” After their chat, God suggested, Maggie should study Libya. “Gaddafi created a coherent society without any interest-bearing debt. Certain powerful people hated that.”
God suggested that Hungary’s recent divorce from the IMF was instructive. After the Budapest government repaid a €2.2 billion debt to the Fund, Prime Minister Viktor Orban had spoken his mind. “No longer will Hungarians be forced to pay usurious interest to private, unaccountable central bankers. Instead, the Hungarian government has assumed sovereignty over its own currency. It now issues money debt free, as needed.”
“Could it be much clearer?” said God. Maggie was open-mouthed. God cautioned that Orban would encounter daunting obstacles if he walked his talk. “Watch closely when you see somebody take on the ‘crapocracy’.”
God had more. “In 1935, Hitler started printing Germany’s own money, in the form of debt-free and interest-free Labour Treasury Certificates.” Maggie didn’t remember seeing that in the newspapers as a girl; or hearing it on the radio. “Ironically, Hitler eventually fought his wars with strong support from US private financiers,” said God.
Maggie enquired how private finance had become so powerful. God looked agitated. “Above all, by backing wars, often both sides. They also got organised early. I would urge you examine passages of the 1215 Magna Carta which are still on statute. Clause 9 and clause 13 mention the “ancient liberties” of the City. Also investigate the invention of bills of exchange towards the end of the Middle Ages, which circumvented any need to back money with gold; and then the setting aside Common Law practices in the late 17th century, allowing debt contracts to be sold under commercial law.”
“Has the monarchy colluded?” Maggie asked. “Good question,” said God. “A very complex, and often unseen history. Ask yourself about the City of London’s seemingly autonomous legal status, and its own police force. Delve into the Remembrancer, who sits in Parliament’s Under Gallery, and follows legislation on behalf of the City. Quite a creepy name.”
God’s next question was openly riddled with hope. “Maggie, do you think anyone can rein back the City of London’s powers? Let us imagine that a strong, independently minded politician emerged, cut from the same jib as Skinner or the great Welshman, Lloyd George. Maybe he or she had been forced to live rough, watching family members die from austerity. Imagine that this person spoke with such eloquence and clarity about the cause – vested financial interests, and spineless parliaments – that crowds followed.”
God’s eyes were misting. She clung in hope to Buddha’s view that Britain was on the cusp of karmic change. “Imagine this person formed a target to wipe away the degradations of interest-bearing debt; and had a consciousness sufficiently formidable to surmount all obstacles.” Maggie knew one thing: “If such a person had emerged in my time, Lord Vic would have diverted him into a backwater,” she said. “He was a master of bribery, blackmail, and dark arts – and a friend to traitors,” said God. Maggie remembered Anthony Blunt.
Trying to envision a future, Maggie asked if hundreds of thousands of bankers would be unemployable in an interest-free world. God said state banks would still need administering. Individuals and business would need lending, deposit and payment facilities. Like Islamic banking, services for one-off fees could still be offered. “However, the insane derivatives market and ridiculous bonuses would disappear. Such is karma.”
The ultimate question arrived. From Maggie. “Have you forgotten that you are God? For the life of you, sort this out.”
God underlined the sanctity of the free will experiment. “Humans have to be left to attain spiritual wisdom, Maggie. If the Essex initiative is toppled, my best hope is that technology will be deployed to eradicate scarcity, by those at the top. The odds on that look poor. Another option is to stop the experiment, for good.”