OPINION

Worshipping the golden calf

“I swear that I will do my utmost to preserve and enhance confidence in the financial services industry. So help me God.” The management of Dutch banks on Thursday became the first in Europe to swear an oath to preserve confidence. Within the year, the same pledge will be taken by 90,000 banking employees as well.

The Dutch state is obviously concerned about the increasing magnitude of its banks, an industry with assets more than four times the size of the country’s economy.

Furthermore, it clearly no longer trusts the ethics of bankers, who forced the state to shell out 95 billion euros for capital guarantees after the 2008 financial crisis.

This religious pledge basically represents the last-ditch attempt of an indebted democratic state to protect itself.

There are parallels to be drawn between Thursday’s event and the description in the Old Testament of when Aaron gathered up the earrings of the Israelite women and used them to forge the golden calf.

He said, “These [be] thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”

Later, after Moses came down from the mountain and burned the golden calf, the people returned to their faith and were spared the wrath of God and complete destruction, though only temporarily.

The banking system today is a contemporary golden calf, a new religion which demands and receives offerings of gold and other wealth from the toil of man to construct an idol in its own image and to impose its own rules on everyone else.

The response from the Swiss government to a Greek request for access to the details of bank accounts held by Greeks in that country was along the same lines.

Official representatives refused point blank to open up the accounts in order to facilitate judicial inquiries into potential tax violations.

The money is being safely kept in the inviolate temples of the golden calf. But if proof is found that any of that money was ill-gotten, it will be pocketed by the Swiss state rather than returned to the country from which it was stolen.

Similar sacrosanct rules protect ill-gotten gains at banks all over the world, in tax havens, anywhere the shadowy banking system has been allowed to grow out of rational proportion, anywhere the golden calf is worshipped as a deity.