Rip-off Britain

May 31, 2008 | By Paul Mackenzie Ross | Filed in: economics.

I’ve been thinking about the current worldwide price rises in food, oil and energy and in the cost of living and credit going up. It’s happening in a lot of places in the world and for months the UK seemed to be largely unaffected, especially since the USA seemed to bearing the brunt of the backlash against dodgy subprime loans. Their petrol (gas) prices have shot up, house prices have plummetted, unemployment is up, interest rates have been slashed and their inflation rate has been creeping up too.

Britain seemed to miss all this… for a while. But slowly we’ve become affected too, with our petrol prices going up, house sales slowing and then house prices falling, mortgages and credit being tougher to get etc. etc. Now I could link to examples of all these aforementioned rises but it’s the energy rises that I mulled on the most and whilst the interest rate remains at 5% and inflation climbs to 3% the energy companies see fit to charge double figure rate rises.

Now think about it all this way…

All the energy companies and all the mortgage companies have shareholders. They are all privately owned, except now for Northern Rock. So when energy prices go up and the cost of credit rises I see this with a lot of scepticism. Sure, raw energy costs might be going up and those rises get passed on to the customer or else there wouldn’t be a business to run. Yes, the credit that was out there didn’t actually exist did it? It was all electronic money. All the interest on my meagre savings are just automatically added digits that I may one day exchange for real money! Or pay off the automatically-generated digits that someone added to me in lieu of *their* interest!

But when shareholders are involved they didn’t throw cash at the project in order to lose it so naturally they have to protect their investment. Throw into the mix the notion that shareholders have rising costs too, they need more money to “keep them in the lifestyle to which they have been accustomed”. When you’re rich, you need to stay rich, so screw the guy down the line.

So coming back to the title of this post “Rip-off Britain” you can read that in a number of ways.

To most people it means everything in Britain is a rip-off. But it might also be our beloved country’s new brand. Foreign “investors” flock to the Rip-off Britain standard, knowing they can rip off Britain. Or is the phrase purely a command “Rip Off Britain” as in “go ahead, Rip off Britain!”.

Is this all just hypocricy when Britain itself “invests” in projects abroad? Maybe so but we should most definitely look after our own here.

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2 comments on “Rip-off Britain

  1. Thanks Tom, I’m not so sure about the layout myself though; I’m still toying around with ideas, but a custom-design is probably on the cards…

    And Tom I’ll be interested to see your in-depth comments in the future too 😉

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