Society Sobriety (pt4) Spank-a-Bank

People in finance and senior corporate management have been prime hate bait for some time now. In a random chin wag about organic bread with my local baker, the mention of flour prices had a Jekyll/Hyde effect, turning this mellow surfer dude into someone ready to muster a lynch mob and hang a banker from the highest tree. I argued for personal choice and responsibility, that everyone borrowing beyond their means should also share their slice of the culpability pie. He wasn’t convinced, claiming these over-mortgaged martyrs were duped by unscrupulous lenders.

That was a surreal shift from a prior view through the looking glass. Earlier this year I was at a party predominantly populated by professionals straddling the X-Y generation and gender divide. GFC hysteria was peaking and many of them work(ed) in finance. With grim fascination I spoke with a guy in mergers and acquisitions, whom I’ll call Mr Face for the sake of privacy and the cranial features he shared with our simian forebears. Mr Face visibly trembled on the verge of a panic attack. Pretending to avoid talk about his job but clearly desperate to unload his occupational distress onto any amateur psychologist within earshot, Mr Face disclosed his vocation like a murderer’s confession. He bitterly added that he knew I thought him evil, just like everyone else. With my tongue lubricated by a bottle of scotch, I made reference to self-hating bankers in as diplomatic a manner as possible under the inebriated circumstances. Mr Face actually became hostile when I gently suggested he relax and worry less about the mights. He saw job loss as a certainty and being run out of town by angry pitchfork waving villagers as a possibility.

Mr Face was buying into the media hype, despite his privileged insider’s view. I’m surprised he didn’t have an objective opinion of the state of the economy and those responsible for it. I’m surprised he had built no immunity to the media virulently spreading pathogenic prejudices against the finance industry. He needed Codral and Lemsip like everyone else.

I think Mr Face could also learn a lot from the brave banking stalwarts of The Crimson Permanent Assurance, Terry Gilliams’ 1983 short film presenting a completely sensible account of bankers fighting oppression.

Callousing up those lilly-soft banker’s hands clenched around the makeshift hilt of a ceiling fan sword, Mr Face will become Spartacus and raise an army of disgruntled finance folk and management types. They’ll raze Sydney to the ground, Terry Gilliam knew it back in the 80’s.

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