Money’s always in the news. I could bluff my way through some politics but economics, which was always a closed book, is even less penetrable than an obscure Serbo-Croatian dialect. Nonetheless, there’s one aspect of the money thing that I really need explained to me. And it relates to the ongoing banking crisis. It seems that Mr Bob Diamond, the ex CEO of Barclays, ‘earned’ just short of £100,000,000 over the 6 years he was in charge. Now that he’s left, having allegedly presided over a period in which corruption was rife and profits were valued more than customers, he’s been given a bonus of another £22,000,000. Just pause to absorb that a moment – one hundred and twenty-two million pounds in six years.
OK, the l’Oréal adverts tell us ‘it’s because you’re worth it’ and Mr Diamond may well have such a grasp of finance, people, the world – even where the Higgs Boson hangs out – that he IS worth that much money. But even if he is, why does he need so much? What’s he saving for? He must have had a few pennies before he took the job. He must already have at least one house, a car, maybe a boat, even a couple of racehorses, so why does he need £22,000,000 on top of the £100,000,000? And why did he need £100,000,000 in the first place? I leave conclusions about his probity to others – what concerns me is that he represents the sickness of the system by which we’re all forced to live. While people with nothing are having the few pounds they need for food, clothes and shelter refused them, why do those at the other end of the scale, who already have more than they can spend, just keep on accumulating the stuff (and even resent having to give some of it back in taxes – taxes which, by the way, aren’t gifts to the government but the money needed to maintain the social infrastructure essential to keeping a nation civilised)?
You may be asking, what does this have to do with murderous musings? Well of course, it's the root of all evil, but I’m not suggesting a cull of the rich. Nonetheless, people whose thinking and ways of being are dependent on accumulating excessive wealth provide a rich harvest when it comes to dubious moral stances - and crime depends on precisely that. Money is no longer a means, a convenient way of bartering, it’s become an end in itself. It seems to imply a new set of values. There’s something going on which I don’t understand, the proliferation of a type of person significantly different from the rest of us, a Hannibal Lecter of the cash register. Perhaps if I suddenly acquired many millions, I’d feel the need to multiply them further, but why? Is it to wave wads of notes in front of others to show how powerful I am? If anyone can explain to me why people need more money than they can possibly spend, I’ll be very grateful. And maybe I’ll learn to write better books.