Are we on the brink of revolution? We know Russell Brand would like one but since the financial crisis of 2008, we have seen only limited reform and not enough people held to account for the elaborate Ponzi scheme that represents our global financial market place. An attempt to cap banker bonuses in Europe is being thwarted by sneaky reconstructions of pay packets, and practically no efforts have been made to address the lack of transparent and quality financial services for those in the lower income brackets. The news that the U.S. Postal Service might start to offer financial services could help to address some of these issues (see the recently released Providing Non-Bank Financial Services for the Underserved) but it is far from a sure thing. In other areas a small increase in Worker Cooperatives and Unionisation is all good news, but what simple things can we do to slow the spinning wheel of capitalism?
1. Don’t agree with the practices of the ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks? Move your money elsewhere. Switch to a credit union or a mutual; because they are owned by their members they are not under the same pressure to produce profits for anxious shareholders meaning they are inclined to take less risks therefore keeping our money safer. You can search for UK Credit Unions here. Nationwide, Yorkshire, Coventry & Leeds Building Societies are the main mutuals that offer current accounts but it is worth checking in your local area to see what is on offer.
2. Support local business. In comparison to chain stores, locally-owned businesses recirculate wealth into the local economy increasing prosperity in the community. A market place of many small businesses is an effective way to keep prices low and competitive, ensuring against the monopolisation of large brands. Local business links the surrounding area in a interconnected web of economic and social relationships, often supporting local causes and helping to keep town centres vibrant.
3. Only buy what you need, not what large corporations want you to buy. If Tesco are forcing you to buy a 3-pack of leeks when you only need 1 don’t shop there. Instead visit your local grocer or market and avoid prepackaged food which is invariably in the wrong quantities and produces excess food and packaging waste.
4. Is something bothering you? Chances are it’s bothering someone else too, maybe you local transport system isn’t good enough, perhaps funding has been cut from a local arts centre, or your university isn’t paying its staff a living wage. Rally support and put pressure on the people at the top, if enough people are involved and passionate about the issue, change can be made. Remember, there are more of us than them.
N.B. This is an interesting resource of various studies that look of the impact of large retail chains v.s. independent stores.