Thursday, February 26, 2009

Seeds of corruption

It is commonly accepted that society works largely by consent. Though we have laws to regulate how we treat one another, the myriad of transactions that people engage in on a daily basis are conducted, for the most part, in a spirit of trust. It's not that dificult to imagine the state we'd be in if everyone acted with unrestrained selfishness and suspicion. Mercifully, as it turns out, most people are prepared to work conscientously in exchange for reasonable rewards and to treat other people much as they'd like to be treated themselves.

This is what is so damaging about the news of Sir Fred Goodwin's £650,000 annual pension: it is an injustice so flagrant, an insult of such obscene proportions that it has the capacity to serve as the definitive outrage for hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of ordinary people.

To argue daintily about contractual obligations and so on is - frankly - to miss the point, as the core issue is the glaring discrepancy between the simple facts as they have been revealed and any sort of rational and just basis for human society.

This has become a big story now and one that I believe the government should take very seriously. The true, long-term cost of this scandal is likely to dwarf Sir Fred's pension pot (£16,000,000) which - let's admit it anyway - is peanuts compared with the losses (£24,000,000,000) incurred by RBS under Sir Fred's stewardship.

If I were a car-worker threatened with redundancy, a postal-worker about about to be privatised on the brink of an economic depression or someone trying to steer a small business through a cash-flow crisis, I'd be tempted to view the whole Fred Goodwin debacle as giving me carte-blanche to do whatever I consider would best serve my own selfish interests - and God help us all, if that should come to be the common view.

2 comments:

  1. Lunchbox12:58 am

    Couldn't agree more, though I think we can all learn something from the current financial crisis and its origins.
    Personally, and in the full spirit of current banking practice, I have decided with my wife to "package up" our debts (which are considerable and probably toxic) and offer them to the markets in the hope of raising the price of a short holiday in Majorca this summer. They have been graded "triple A" by my nephew Daniel who has an O level in economics - any takers?

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  2. eccles topaz12:59 pm

    Mr Wilson
    I don't know whether your blog represents your views, but if it does, it comes across as sour grapes, pure and simple.
    I can't stand whingers, never could. I gave up a whole year's salary in order to qualify for this quite modest pension by commercial standards. Let's get things in context: mine is £6 million, and here are pension figures for some of my peers:

    Lord Bloodthroat £9.7 million
    Sir Hector Dogsbollock £17 million
    Charles Windsor £14.4 million
    The Marquis of Bighmouth £11 million

    They've had to tighten their belts, I've had to - for example, just the other day I decided to make my assistant chauffeur redundent. Now that's getting down to core values. Live within your means, I said to myself. Don't get swayed by sentiment. I expect you have to brace yourself too for hard times, but moaning about executive pensions is so yesterday, so passay. Please.......give us a break.
    Yours sincerely
    Fredk Goodwin

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