I’ve been watching the news stories about the plight of banking across the world with interest. I was surprised at the complexity that the international banking system has woven across the world, and in particular across the Atlantic Ocean. I have watched and read quite a lot and I think I understand some of the issues behind the notorious “No” vote in the American House of Representatives this week.
It’s long been true that when the USA sneezes, Britain catches a cold and our own housebuilding industry, in particular, has been very hard hit by the banks clamp-down on lending. Thousands of workers in the construction sector are being laid off.
This week the whole credit crunch came too close to home when my son was told that he was out of work.
He is a very skilled plumber who was working for a small company that has bent over backwards to keep him on for as long as they could. However, with empty order books of their own, they have had to “let him go”.
He worked hard to study for a trade that was supposed to set him up in a career that would last for years. Indeed, he was at our house this weekend fitting new taps in our kitchen, when I had the chance to see his professionalism in action.
When we spoke on the phone yesterday after he had been given the bad news, he was considering spending some time out of plumbing and even said that he would be prepared to stack shelves in his local supermarket. But what really got to me was when he said that he would have to give up the rented house that he is sharing with his girlfriend and is considering moving back in with his mother (who was my first wife).
I’m not politician, neither am I an economist, but as a dad, and at a visceral level, I wonder why should we let “them” spend our money to bail out the city fat cats whose irresponsible lending got themselves into this mess? Why can’t the billions of pounds that are being offered by the US and UK governments be spent on building the social housing that both our countries need?