History will show that the year 2008 was either the year the World big players finally moved to change the whole financial system to something a bit more stable and equal or they sat on their collective hands and allowed a crisis turn into a full blown humanitarian disaster.
Last year saw a food crisis which saw the price of staples rocket, stretching budgets even tighter for us in the West but proving devastating for those with barley enough in affluent times in places like Africa, Oil prices hit records high with knock on effects to the gas and electric industry which then passed on these price increases to consumers with two unprecedented price hikes in our utility bills.
Thirdly the credit crunch became a downturn which led to a recession and continues to gather speed at a frightening rate towards a full blown depression equal to that of the 1930s.
That is the way of Capitalism it seems, a period of growth followed by a devastating collapse every decade such as we see now and which i witnessed in the 90s, 80s, and 70s. The devastation of unemployment, poverty, homelessness, families broken up, health issues and standards of living crumbling come with every downturn.
The people at the top may lose substantial fortunes but it is always those at the bottom that are affected the worst, those who were already the worst off.
With the Worlds leaders meeting in London to plot a way out of this latest crisis, the question that arises most forcefully now is do we keep out heads down and just wait it all out before continuing on the same path as usual with all the highs and lows or do we reform or indeed scrap Capitalism and look to replace it with something else.
Beyond doubt is the fact that unregulated Capitalism doesn't work, humans are too greedy, selfish and self-seeking to be allowed to run a system for the benefit of everyone. The pockets are too deep for those at the top so there is very little left to trickle down. When disaster does strike whether by mismanagement, as with the financial markets, or because of reduced consumer spending, as is the case with the majority of the 8000 businesses that fold each week in Britain, it is those at the top who get the large payoffs with everyone else having to trudge along cap in hand to the Social Security Benefit Offices for the £60 weekly allowance to live on. It was John Smith himself, the father of Capitalism, who warned that in his system "the new unemployed would either starve, or be driven to seek a subsistence either by begging or by perpetration perhaps of the greatest enormities and want, famine and mortality would immediately prevail'.
That we need to reform the system is beyond doubt, what we change to is the larger question. To stay with what we have means tighter regulation of the banks, more accountability for their actions, no rewards for failure and an end to the obscene bonus and sky high wages culture. The trickle down needs to improve with an increase in the minimum wage to lessen the inequality gap between the top and bottom but most importantly, reverse the flawed privatisation system that profits only the few.
The alternative is to consign Capitalism to the dustbin of History and find a system that concerns itself more with equality, humanity, an even distribution of profits and is less liable to collapse with such alarming regularity and consequences every decade.