Why bail-outs fail and people power will succeed
‘Lipstick on a Pig: Why Bail-outs Fail and People Power Will Succeed’ is the first of a new series of books by Zopa co-founder Simon Deane-Johns (aka ‘The Pragmatist’) that take a subversive and irreverent look at how the relationship between society and its institutions is changing, fundamentally and forever - how we, as individuals, are personalising the one-size-fits-all existence traditionally offered by our institutions; and what the impact of this trend will be on our financial system, politics, unions, the church and beyond.
Irreverent it may be, but the series deals with some of the most serious and far-reaching issues facing us today. Why start with our financial system? Because, like it or not – and recent impromptu campsites demonstrate that most of us do not like it – our financial system is supposed to be the beating heart of our society, yet it’s badly broken. And all the money we allocate to the existing structure is just so much lipstick on a pig. But there is hope, even in the face of financial doom. Alternative financial structures are emerging as part of the ‘architecture of participation’ that characterises the online environment. At the same time, the ‘occupations’ are a sign that the majority of us have rounded the ‘change curve’. That we have moved beyond 'shock' at how broken things are, through 'denial' and past 'anger and blame' – despite what’s written on the placards. We all accept the financial system has changed for the worse, and that something must be done. The only reason people are gathering publicly is to figure out what and how.
‘Lipstick on a Pig’ explains this challenge in five chapters, based on a series of Pragmatist posts on banking and finance. In the first chapter, we consider the rise of pragmatism out of a bottom-up desire to know what ‘works’ in the midst of widespread disillusionment with society’s institutions. The second chapter looks at the difference between ‘institutions’, which exist largely to solve their own problems, and ‘facilitators’, which exist largely to solve their customers’ problems. The third focuses on the economic environment in which our financial system operates, including the prevalence of greed and stupidity and a dearth of scepticism and critical thought. The fourth chapter looks at how financial services are evolving in the context described in the previous three chapters. Finally, ‘Lipstick on a Pig’ explains how financial regulation that ironically was intended to protect us actually works to our detriment, and what changes could be made to encourage the growth of simple, low cost – and useful – financial services.
Publication date: January 2012
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“Deane-Johns as The Pragmatist is worth his weight in White Papers on criminally overdue financial services reform and crystal clear thinking. His blog is essential reading for all of us who want to see big, effective change for the better. Not just because he agrees with us, but because he explains precisely what needs to be done. To have this wealth of invaluable observation, analysis and creative thinking brought together in one book is a godsend. That The Pragmatist is a gigging lawyer in the forefront of innovative businesses makes this work an even rarer and significant read. We should all send a copy to Cameron, Osborne and Cable; there might be hope for UK financial services reform yet.” Martin Campbell, Director, Beacon Strategic Communications