It's your shout
Michael Moore's new documentary film, which went on general release in the United States on Friday, argues that whatever it once was, capitalism is now the legalisation of greed.
Capitalism: A Love Story focuses on the US - where, claims Moore, the top 1 per cent of the population controls more financial wealth than the bottom 95 per cent combined - but translates well to a money-obsessed city such as ours.
Evidence to support the theory is everywhere, from the infrastructural white elephants designed primarily to funnel money into the pockets of the developer tycoons to the confusion (deliberately fostered, argues Moore) that surrounds financial products such as Lehman Brothers' minibonds, which have left so many out of pocket. On the other hand, proof that parsimony pays came in a story in the South China Morning Post last Saturday. Apparently, for more than a decade, Hong Kong banks have been waiving credit-card fees for those who make a fuss about having to pay them. Now the lenders are no longer willing to do that and customers who have been getting the waivers feel less valued.
Essentially, then, bank customers for whom finances are an overriding priority have been getting a better deal than those whose cares are less fiscally oriented and/or who have not been aware that it is possible to argue your way out of 'set' fees. We live in a system that makes it almost impossible to survive without a bank account and a credit card - and the lenders we have to use treat us less favourably if we do not pay enough attention to money matters or bellyache loud enough.
Moore appears to have a point.