Finding stupid opinion pieces on Comment Is Free is like finding hay in a haystack or a needle in a massive pile of needles. Take this one, for example, by Max Keiser. Max is former options trader turned fillm-maker and broadcaster who has appeared on a number of different media outlets but is best known for presenting shows on Press TV (the news channel owned by Iran. Yes, that’s right: Iran), RT (formerly known as Russia Today, another news channel of dubious editorial policy) and Al Jazeera English (no introduction necessary).
Max has a dream, you see. Max wants the whole world to buy as much silver as possible. Not in the form of futures or options, but the actual physical commodity. Max buys into the (non-confirmed) theory that the investment bank J.P. Morgan is trying to manipulate the value of silver by running a huge short position (i.e. they have sold something that they do not own in the hope that prices will drop, allowing them to cover their short position at a huge profit) which they hope will drive the cost down. Consequently, Max’s idea is for the rest of the world to buy enough silver to push the price up, up, up resulting in J.P. Morgan being unable to cover its position and to go bankrupt.
So far, so hare-brained. The frightening thing is the amount of comments that follow the article expressing their support for this ludicrous scheme. I’ve been in there myself trying to argue with some of them but it’s like a zombie movie: just as you beat off one brain-sucking denizen of the walking dead, another fifty wild eyed monsters turn up looking for a feast. Such is life in The Guardian’s comment section.
I do understand why so many people are angry with the banks but I do think some restraint is needed. Given all that we have been through in the last couple of years I cannot understand why anyone would think that bankrupting an enormous financial institution would be anything other than catastrophic. Look what happened when Lehman Brothers went under. A bank like J.P. Morgan going under would be disastrous and, in any case, they would only be bailed out by the government anyway (it really is too big to fail), thus adding to the debt that is already the burden of the US taxpayer. The whole idea is preposterous, the hoped for outcome neither likely nor desirable and Kesier is clearly a crank.
Similar idiocy was proposed a couple of weeks ago by no less an intellectual giant than Eric Cantona who suggested that revolution should be instigated by everyone taking their money out of the banks. Somehow a new and fairer system would emerge from this – by magic, of course: he doesn’t bore us with any details about what happens next. Sounds like a great idea. We can look forward to the disappearance of money, followed by the immediate disintegration of infrastructure and society. As long as we “punished” those banks.
As I said in the comments thread: Withdrawing all money to “punish” the banks would be like sticking a red hot poker up your bottom to punish your haemorrhoids.
I’m off now to head-butt myself into unconsciousness.
I am sure that you are correct that the silver scheme is daft, but I think you underestimate how much people do hate the banks.The banks are organisations who for the last decade have lectured us on how great they and their employees are and that's why they all need paying much much more money than the rest. However it then turns out that no, they actually had no skill or talent at all. The bank employees with the connivance of the government shafted first their customers, then their owners (the share holders) and then society (the tax payers). In a just world the bankers would pay dearly for their mistakes, but no they have just gone on shafting us left right and centre fulfilling their own disgusting greed. I am sure is great to be a banker, surrounded by other bankers all telling each other how wonderful they all are, but that its not how the rest of the country sees them. I think it is the frustrated impotence of the populous that wants the G.S. to fail and hang the consequences. I for one don't want them to fail but I do want them to suffer- badly
I don't think I underestimate how much people hate the banks and in many ways it is warranted. But I do think that hatred of "bankers" (whatever that means) has been taken to a ridiculous level.A very tiny proportion of people who work in the banks can be held responsible for what happened. We're talking less than 1%. And not all the banks were culpable either. That's probably no comfort for anyone who just want to blame the banks collectively and everyone that works at one. But it's still true.I don't want to be seen as some big apologist for the City. Yes, I work there, but I'm not a "banker" i.e. someone who makes investment decisions or creates these exotic financial products. There are an awful lot of arrogant, over-paid tosspots in this industry, but there are even more ordinary people who had nothing to do with anything that happened.Some perspective needed by a lot of people, methinks.