Banks for people, not profit!

The economic meltdown on Wall Street and its massive repercussions world-wide won't be going away in a hurry.

This isn't just a symptom of too much greed or careless lending practices — nor will any amount of improvising prevent a severe world economic crisis from developing. It's too late for that.

Amid such a massive financial crisis, it is not enough — as the Rudd government has attempted to do — to try to prop up the financial system.

Why shore up the banks with a massive bail-out bill — funded at taxpayers' expense — when something might be done for the greater population? Why is it that the wealth of this country is never shared but the debt is?

Let the rich capitalists and corporate bankers take care of themselves: governments should devote public resources to the majority of people.

Any money lent to the banks or other financial institutions should be drawn from the record profits of the corporations and the obscene salaries of their CEOs and boards. If massive amounts of our money are going to be invested in the banks then we should have a say about where that money goes.

We, rather than the finance industry, should decide what debts get called in.

But most of all we have to slash interest rates and tie that initiative to a massive program of house building, investment in public transport infrastructure and other measures to kickstart an environmentally and economically sustainable economy.

The root cause of this crisis is that trading in money for profit has displaced real production. Like a house of cards, the money men are dragging the whole edifice down on all of us as the world nose-dives into economic chaos that may be on par with the Great Depression.

No one will be immune.

For years workers' real wages have been driven down. Instead of receiving pay rises, we have to make up the shortfall, paying interest on money we are forced to borrow to survive!

While millions of people rely on the banking system to provide an essential service, in the current system, the whole reason banks exist is to make profits. The logical response to this situation is to remove profit making from the equation by nationalising the banking industry and merging all of the banks into one single publicly controlled bank with a charter to provide essential banking services to the entire community.

The first step should be the re-nationalisation of the Commonwealth Bank. We are facing what may turn out to be the worse crisis in the history of capitalism. The first priority has be to protect the millions of people in Australia who are likely to be its victims.

The corporate high flyers with their free market doctrines have had their day in the sun. Look where it has got us! It's time for a new economic direction away from a fixation with the mentality of the stock exchange, and towards a new political direction not governed by the bottom line.

Dave Riley

[Dave Riley is a member of the Socialist Alliance national executive.]

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