Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Occupy the Global Black Market!

The Times of India on 10 December had a front-page story explaining why Britain had refused to join a European Union deal to move towards closer economic cooperation. It said that Prime Minister David Cameron had been unable to “secure a halt in ongoing EU efforts to curb the City of London’s huge financial services sector.”

It quoted Cameron saying he had failed to get “safeguards” from EU colleagues. French premier Nicolas Sarkozy noted that the British had asked for “something we all judged unacceptable – for a protocol to be inserted into the treaty granting the United Kingdom a certain number of exonerations on financial services regulations.”

None of them – Cameron, Sarkozy or TOI – explained what exactly the British were trying to protect. A keyword Internet search yielded not a single story, Indian or foreign, that spelled out the matter.

This is not because the issue is too difficult to explain.

The City (financial center) of London is the Wild West of international finance, where drug runners, organized crime groups, dictators, mega-corporations and garden-variety tax cheats can all invest with the greatest of ease. What Cameron wanted to protect was Britain's role as the manager and epicenter of the global black market. Without exemption from EU regulations, that cannot continue.  

Among the many interesting questions that float around this situation is how, given the much touted “freedom of the Press” in democratic countries, this total media blackout has been achieved.

There are several factors. One is that the rich won’t talk about it, and the poor can't. Another is British propaganda presenting London as the center of virtuous “free enterprise.” A third is that most media bigwigs probably have a secret stash in some tax haven.

There is no one to bell the cat.

In this situation, the London Olympics offers civil society activists an unprecedented opportunity to draw attention to the black hole of criminality in The City. It would be a perfect time to launch "Occupy the Global Black Market!"

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