Plugging the Leaking Ship With Wads of Crisps

When Northern Rock was nationalised in Feburary, we as taxpayers were all assured that Northern Rock would not hit us all that hard. This is, of course, the truth. We as individual taxpayers are not hit that hard by any fall in share price. I am happy to pay a penny or two to keep quite a number of people in work, and prop up the economy a little.

The problem is, this episode is horrifically embarrasing for the government and is costing quite a bit of our money to keep propped up. £3BN is a very large amout of money. It is, to put it simply, one hundred million packets of cheese and onion crisps. There are a multitude of things you could do with that many slices of fried potato. Feed everybody in Zimbabwe. Pile it in a heap and enter it for the Turner Prize. Keep Walkers in profit for a very long time. What a government shouldn't be doing is putting it into the leaky vessel of Northern Rock, where it will be absorbed and used in invisible ways.

Now, let us think about that. One hundred million packets of crisps is a very visable thing. If you were to assume that each packet was 6cm thick, piling them on top of each other would create a crisp pile that would reach the moon seven times over. Instead, it is going into a bank that is leaking money like a seive, and will probably end up in the pockets of foreign investors and companies, which is the opposite intention to many taxpayers, who no doubt assumed that it would go into more useful constructions, like building houses or buying ambulances.

To further this annoyance at cashflow I appear to be talking about, with a cash strapped government on our doorstop and all it makes me wonder exactly what our dear government is drinking to not see the benefits in taking a large amount of that profit that British Gas (and others) have made to invest properly. Consider this. British Gas (using this as an example of the buisness practice in this country) has layed off plenty of staff this year. That in part ("Cost cutting") is responsible for that massive profit. But whenever a call-centre post is moved to India, one less person has a job. More people out of work, more pressure on the wellfare state to help them out. Less money to contribute to the community. When this is done on a large scale, entire villages and towns suffer from the fall in money flowing into it's internal commerce. Hyndburn has a high unemployment rate, and badly need regeneration in several areas of the consitituency where housing quality is poor. Even a percent of any windfall tax would help bring more jobs into the area and vastly improve the lot of many people's lives here. What the government promises to do about actual improvement to areas like mine? Nothing. It is a scandal.