Tuesday, 18 March 2008

On blogging, banks and business - and where our money goes

Last Thursday I rocked up at the council cabinet meeting near Cambridge only to be accosted by one of the leading Lib Dems telling me that according to my blog I should be near Watford... it is possible to achieve more than one meeting in a day. It is possible to take an interest in regional, national and international issues without forgetting local concerns.

On Friday I took the East Coast Mainline to the Conservative Conference in Newcastle Gateshead. Great confereence but I came away with a local councillor's experience of the North South divide. The social action project was at a City Farm. I'm all for building bridges between rural and urban communities. I helped, but my southern council would never have the cash to even think about such a project. The cab driver told us he had just been ferrying OAPs to a "pampering day" at the Angel of the North on the council's expense... is that a good use of taxpayers money? Down here money is so tight we would never even consider this as an option but we do support volunteer and charity networks.

Whilst in Newcastle I received a message that my former employer of 12 years (JP Morgan) had taken over my former employer of 2 years (Bear Stearns). When I left Bear Stearns 4 years ago their claim to fame was decades of continuous profitability unrivalled in the international banking market. On the frontline we complained because Bear was so much more risk adverse than any of our competitors.

Bear eschewed "corporate giving" in favour of the individual donation. Every senior managing director had to give at least 5% of their earnings to charity. Money got to where it was needed and the donors sure made sure it was well spent. I hope that bit of the Bear ethos remains.

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