Who Should We Trust?

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

[Picture of a fingerprint]RESPONSIBILITY has shifted to the individual away from the likes of companies and institutions.

Long ago, when I was young, the world was quite different, fundamentally different in fact.  I know the world has changed, but I am not convinced that the changes have been for the better in respect of the individual.

You see, at one time, for example, criminals robbed banks.  So the banks shifted the onus over to us over a period of time, and under the guise of progress, security or even customer services!

As a result of one of the biggest changes, we are each of us at risk of being mugged when we visit ATMs.

[Picture of an atm]Think — if you were a criminal, would you bother to rob a bank when you could get money easier by making customers your target?  All you have to do is make them empty their account at the cash point.

Banks came up with PINs. This is a further shift of responsibility onto you and I; beforehand, the responsibility for fraudulent use of a bank card was either the bank or the shop — definitely not us!

We had a card with a signature on the back.  If the shop did not compare the signatures, then it was at risk of losing money when the bank refused to honour the transaction. It was easy to look at the signatures on the slip, check CCTV and so prove that the person committing the fraud was not the customer.

However, now, the PIN method means that if a card is used for a transaction, the PIN must be correct, and if the PIN is correct, then the shop and the bank are off the hook; you must have disclosed your secret PIN — therefore the fault is always yours.

[Picture of a card swipe pos terminal]Your only defence is to find a way of showing that the PIN was obtained in some criminal way, perhaps through surveillance, or by somehow capturing it during on-line or telephone banking activity — and that’s nigh on impossible for most bank customers.

The fact is that the old system protected the customer far better, but it cost the banks (and shops) more money.  The new way suits them better, and the con is that it is sold as a “good thing” to customers.

Another example is the car alarm.

Before car alarms, people used to discover that their car had vanished, and they would then report the theft to the police.  However, as a result of car alarms, what happens now is that criminals wait in hiding for you to unlock your car, and then attack you — to hijack your vehicle.

[Picture of a surf at your own risk sign]They may steal your car as you park it, as you are departing, or even as you wait at traffic lights!  The main thing to realise is that car alarms have made your car safer, but at the expense of vastly increasing your risk of physical injury and mental trauma.

This sort of thing is everywhere today.  It is your responsibility to shop around for the cheapest quote, it is your responsibility to protect yourself — to get a firewall, some anti-virus software, a car alarm, a 5-lever mortise lock, a burglar alarm, some CCTV, motion sensors, web cam, bodyguards, insurance policies and so forth.

Is it any wonder that we feel so oppressed, so paranoid, so insecure?

[direct debit logo]It started with incentives, cheaper insurance with an alarm, cheaper bills with direct debit or on-line banking — but this has led us all to a vulnerable place where we are open to great harm if we let our guard down for an instant!

[Picture of cctv warning sign]I know people who have lost faith in the NHS, they check everything on-line, refusing to take the word of a GP.

Each one of us is now responsible for our own diet.  If we are fat or ill, then it is our own fault — it is certainly not the government’s fault, nor has it to do with marketing, selling or making food. We are even held accountable for what we throw in the rubbish — apart from eco-friendly, green or whatever other initiatives (we are now responsible for saving the planet), we have to shred everything in case of identity theft — yet there are so many recent scandals involving personal data loss by the government!

The result of this culture is people refusing to vaccinate their babies, and for some to take archaic religious beliefs over standard education (especially regarding creationism and evolution).

Can anyone really depend on their pension? Do we need personal, private healthcare and education? Can we rely on the government?  Are we safe and secure from crime and terror?

A growing number of people are disillusioned with the stress of all this responsibility and yearn for the old days — when Estate Agents were responsible for selling houses, GPs were responsible for health, banks took care of money, and things like pensions, and education were dependable.

Who can we trust?  — religious leaders? politicians? bankers? school teachers? dentists? doctors? supermarkets? lawyers? the BBC? CNN? Islam? Christianity? Bono? Bob Geldof?

We cannot all be experts in everything — even with the internet! Why can’t responsibility be collective (shared) once more? What are we paying for?

One Response to “Who Should We Trust?”

  1. Jack Croft Says:

    Excellent post! Well put!

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