There can, in our opinion, be no doubt that both in the UK and abroad, recent years have seen an increase in financial hardship for many people. Whether rightly or wrongly the blame is often directed at the banks, government policy, multinational corporations or work-shy citizens. Whatever the root cause our research has shown that the underlying issues always seem to revolve around three key areas, namely; currency, contracts and markets.
i. Currency: From the Far East, to Southern Africa, to South America. In recent years citizens of different countries in these regions and beyond have been plunged into poverty as a direct result of currency manipulation and speculation by outsiders. In most cases these economies have never recovered and the ordinary people continue to suffer the consequences.
ii. Contracts: Whether simple financial contracts or agreements to do with the exploitation of natural resources, the recent trend has been heavily stacked in favour of multinationals and major corporations as opposed to individuals, local governments or small traders & producers. In the UK, organisations and movements such as the Plain English Campaign have recognised that both the small print and also the general wording of many consumer credit agreements has left many ordinary consumers completely bewildered and thus vulnerable to some very exploitative and unjust contracts.
iii. Markets: For many producers, growers and traders access to the market place is much more important than pricing policies or issue of fairtrade. If producers and traders are empowered to get their produce in front of the consumers or end users then they can negotiate an acceptable price and equitable terms. Cutting out unnecessary third parties ensures more money for producers who are then able to make their own decisions concerning issues of health, education and other important matters for themselves and those they may be responsible for. This is true both in the UK and abroad.
UK supermarkets have not only dealt a death blow to many small shopkeepers but have also impacted adversely on farmers as well as severely restricting the possibilities of success for many small or independent traders. All this in a time of increasing unemployment and cut backs in public services and expenditure.
A major factor necessary in redressing these problems is to create vibrant free and trading spaces that give everyone in society the opportunity to make a living from trading, free of charge. An opportunity that will give producers direct access to end users and consumers. We call this concept the Open Market
Our concept of the Open Market can radically change and regenerate communities and society in general for the better, and in doing so directly tackle issues of poverty, isolation and unemployment. The Open Market can cater for 2,000 independent traders in less space than a shopping centre currently catering for just 100 shops.
The Open Market will:
- offer greater choice and lower prices;
- naturally support local producers;
- support existing businesses; and
- be a hive of social activity and interaction.