For the past five years political discourse has been dominated the disastrous state of Economics worldwide.
The impact of news stories of corruption in big corporations has been diluted by the sheer volume of these stories in the press over the past few years. Each new scandal having less impact on the consciousness of the general public than the one before it.
Economics and politics are more important than they have ever been before, at least in my lifetime, we know little of what goes on behind the scenes, and because we know so little, our actual understanding of the corridors of power is even more miniscule.
Whatever happened as a result of actions of politicians, big corporations, and the banking industry, everything went pear shaped. In fact, the pear no longer seems to be an adequately bizarre enough shaped fruit to serve as an analogy for the state of numerous nations’ economies throughout the world, so perhaps we’ll have to go with butternut squash shaped…
Call it what you will, and bearing in mind that the media had the audacity to underplay and trivialise it by calling it ‘the credit crunch’ in its early stages, so pretty much anything flies, the economic downturn has been crippling for businesses, families and young people on the start of the career ladder.
Unfortunately due to the very nature of political discourse, the public arena has provided no real answers as to why it all happened. Go to America, and it’s all blamed on the Republicans, in the UK, it’s blamed on Gordon Brown, who had actually started bringing us out of recession by 2008.
Go to Greece and… Actually, don’t go to Greece.
Anyway, I picked up Collateral Damage with the hope of finding some answers. I found lots, and they were all terrifying. But if you are looking for a handbook on ‘why we are in this mess’, then it’s a great place to start.
A small collection of articles, arguments and essays, it’s pleasantly underwhelming in size, but can be overwhelming in terms of occasionally giving you heart palpitations and making you wish we went back to the times of wearing fig leaves and communicating with hand gestures.
But despite all this, it must be read, for knowledge is power and all that, and the authors who appear in this book are very knowledgeable indeed.
I can safely say though, it will not give you “an answer”. Probably because there isn’t one single answer, but what it will give you is a variety of balanced viewpoints and opinions, insights into the inner workings of the biggest religion in the world – the Church of Credit.
What is more terrifying than discussions of previous scandals is Erwin Tuil’s essay, ‘China’s Coming Crisis’.
Is the Communist Party’s tight control over the freedom of information going to lead to a crisis within the country? What about questions over sustained availability of power and running water?
Any of these instances could lead to changes in the behaviour of spending patterns within the Chinese public, Tuil argues that the public would spend less and keep their money to themselves, the equivalent of saving during a rainy day… taking money away from the cycle of the economy.
And as we learned five years ago, if one superpower takes a hit, then we will too.
Other essays discuss the fragility of the Euro and the Eurozone, a lack of autonomy for Europe’s smaller countries, less ability to balance the books with currency fluctuations, difficulty competing with the zone’s better entrenched competitors.
Each of these essays offers a small part of the picture, and together it helps build a bigger picture, which in turn is probably just a puzzle piece in the conundrum of the economic meltdown.
It’s a good puzzle piece to have though and a must-read for anybody who feels the red mist rising when the government announces a fresh wave of cuts for the poor whilst giving a tax relief to the high earning power players.
You can buy the book here: http://www.movingtoyshop.com/