Sophistication or Sophistry


Promissory Note

Once upon a time not so very long ago, when we all lived happily ever after, applying for a passport the applicant required a counter signatory to verify their identity and the information provided. The list of acceptable counter signatories included a member of the Police, a Politician, a Priest or Clergyman, and a Bank Manager. At a cursory glance you will note that the reputation of all the exalted citizens on the list have in very recent times been found wanting. Corruption, misappropriation of funds, sexual abuse, and unchecked greed are among the exalted failings.

The Oscar for most consistent charlatans goes to The Bankers. Is there no end to the weasel ways, the continuing culture of self-interest, bonus payments, and arrogance? Harvey Comics ‘Richie Rich’ was obviously inspired reading for Barclays’ Rich Ricci, while ex CEO Bob Diamond may have found inspiration in the Simpsons.

Money laundering, usury, and rogue trading seem to be the culture of the banking system, in other words more holes than a Swiss cheese. Oops. Billy Connolly commented that in 500 years of peace all the Swiss could come up with was the cuckoo clock. No Billy, they built a model for current banking practice. So probably still acceptable as counter signatories if required, but don’t buy the used Ferrari. If offered check the plates, FG1RBS, probably a repo.

What galls most of all is the breach of trust. Currency is based on that honourable notion, the promissory note. It’s a piece of paper used in commerce to ease the movement of goods and services and its face value is assured by that promise. The signatory was an honourable man, one who could sign your passport application. Not so honourable now that the promise appears not to be worth the paper it’s printed on.

Fortunately there are still some human beings among us who are deserving of the title ‘Honourable’.



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