Hey Walla

Jul. 25th, 2005 02:12 pm
peterbirks: (Default)
How does terrorism affect my life? How does it really piss me off?

I'll tell you. It's the impact that it's had on compliance officers and regulatory bodies worldwide, whose main aim in life now seems to be to stop me doing anything with my money. Finally, after a month, my Neteller to US account appears to be working. Was this really a software glitch (as the UK tried to tell me)? Or was it really a debate with the FSA (as Canada tried to tell me)? Or was it (cue conspiracy theories) a period when the powers-that-be established that I was not after all the South-east London nexus for the Al-Qaeda London-Las Vegas link, but was instead an ordinary Joe who just happens to want to live a life in two currencies.

The farce is, and the authorities know this, that most illegal money shifting takes place through Hawala, where trusted intermediaries on different sides of the world arrange the money transfers of (mostly) honest citizens who resent paying the usurious charges meted out by the banks.

Terrorist networks could, if they wanted, fund people in the UK from abroad using just such a system. Or, even more worryingly, they could be the intermediaries.

The establishment solution to this, as it is to everything these days, is to try to make the Hawala system illegal, notwithstanding the fact that nearly all of the system's users are honest and probably nearly all the intermediaries are honest Pakistanis/Indians/Somalians trying to earn an honest crust. Make it illegal, and the profit goes instead to Federal Express, HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland. So much for helping the third world help itself.

How about a more radical solution? Cap the charges that can be imposed by FedEx and the banks. Make it as cheap to use over-the counter methods as it is to use Hawala. THEN you can follow the people who don't want to use an equally cheap, but above-board system, because they are more concerned about secrecy than price.

But, of course, it ain't going to happen.


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