Are you sitting comfortably? I ask only because I’m doing that scene-setting stuff again, and it’s going to take a while. When I was a little girl, my grandma took delivery of a new three-piece suite. It was an event of some significance, as she had been buying it at the rate of something like 50p a week for seventeen years (you read that right: seventeen) – and refused to have it in the house until it was paid for in full, otherwise it would be like sitting on stolen goods. A woman of stern moral fibre, my grandma. Compare and contrast to the furniture ads on the telly at the moment: “Get the sofa of your dreams, in time for Christmas – four years’ interest-free credit, pay nothing for a year”.
What does this tell us about the current appetite for saving up for things, for making do until you can afford it? Precisely. And criminals just love our change of attitude. In the modern desire (desperation?) for everything now, and the chorus of “Why shouldn’t I have it, because she has it and so does he, and after all, I’m worth it”, they find a ready audience for their (false) promises of easy money and no consequences. It wasn’t so much of a problem when the CEO (or MD, as he was in those days) was paid about a hundred times what his most lowly employee took home; the responsibility/risk/reward balance seemed fair, and Mr Lowly could dream realistically of one day becoming Mr MD. But now, when junior staff hear about their directors being paid squillions, they see something that is both manifestly unfair and impossibly out of reach – and so their minds turn to alternatives. And the lure of a 20% cut for shepherding through a dodgy transaction or turning a blind eye to a reportable situation or not asking awkward questions could be irresistible. But teaching patience (grasshopper) in these Twitter-times is an uphill battle.