Letters: Banking bailout

Banks must understand the public's anger
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The Independent Online

Financial institutions no longer have the public's confidence, because of their carelessness, ignorance and greed. We need to bail them out to stop further damage to the country's economy, but they must take into account our anger and prevent further moral hazard.

Swingeing conditions must accompany the Government's financial support – a review of bonuses and remuneration can only be implemented by the Government placing their own men as executive directors on pay review committees. Currently they are staffed by buddies who look after their own. Financial penalties should also be placed on those auditors who allowed these dubious practices without warning shareholders.

Colin Jackson

Bookham, Surrey

One of the arguments often put forward by the advocates of the free market against Karl Marx is that his writings on the contradictions of capitalism were written in the 1840s and 1850s, and are therefore out of date and irrelevant.

Yet for the past 30 years, these same critics have tried to create an economic model based on the writings of Adam Smith, whose free-market manifesto, The Wealth of Nations, was published in 1776. Will these free-marketeers now apologise, and acknowledge that unrestrained competition, selfish individualism and rampant market forces no longer work?

Pete Dorey

Reader in British Politics, Cardiff University

In industry, when trading enters a downturn employees are laid off temporarily or put on a three-day week. In the present crisis would it not be advisable to suspend the stock market, laying off traders temporarily to prevent the speculation and volatility which is playing havoc with share prices, often for no logical reason other than a loss of confidence.

Peter Fieldman

Paris

Can anyone imagine the current international financial crisis being handled by David Cameron, a man whose only job outside Westminster was as a public relations consultant for a television company?

Christopher Clayton

Waverton, Cheshire

I was in my local pub on Tuesday night, which is attached to one of those hotels that major in corporate business. The electronic sign in the lobby informed me that Barclays Bank were booked into the "Inspiration Suite". I do hope they found some.

Chiz Szymanski

Nottingham

Academies can't buck facts of IQ

Academies, praised by Dominic Lawson ("The schools that simply do not believe in failure", 7 October), are conducting an extreme, unproven experiment in what many would regard as the ill-treatment of children that would not be allowed in state schools anywhere else in Britain or Europe.

There is a clear pattern in academies: those that have banded admissions involving screening with an IQ-type test are doing much better than those that don't. When the academies that screen their intake with IQ-type tests are omitted, the results of the academies programme are so dire that had this been more widely known Andrew Adonis would have been shunted into a siding long ago. Presumably Gordon Brown has just found out, and also worked out the vast cost to the newly impoverished taxpayer.

Dominic Lawson applauds Geraldine Bedell's sneering dismissal of the statistically correct assertion that not all pupils can achieve A*-C grades at GCSE. It is a widely ignored but well established fact that educational attainment is overwhelmingly predicted by prior IQ, not "social factors". IQ-type tests reveal continuous variation described by the Normal Distribution. If a similar variation in attainment does not result then the most able are not being taught effectively.

It is of course possible that unaccountable entrepreneurial financial speculators have struck upon something new. It may indeed be the case that IQ can be raised by appropriate teaching, but decades of international educational research has failed to find such a connection with the imposition of draconian discipline and the regimes described by Dominic Lawson.

Can we really trust the culture that has wrecked the world's economy to experiment on our most needy children?

Roger Titcombe

Ulverston, Cumbria

Had Dominic Lawson wished to call ATL for explanation, we could have told him that the sad truth is some children will never be able to pass five GCSEs, regardless of where they go to school, but that does not mean their teachers do not care about them and their futures. Teachers want all pupils to be able to attend schools with the best resources and facilities, and the best chance to achieve their potential.

We believe that if the money invested in academies was fairly invested across all schools it would benefit a far greater number of children – not just the few attending those academies.

As for ATL being part of the "old left", this comment really shows no knowledge of ATL as a modern union which works to uphold basic employment rights and good working conditions for members in certain academies.

Dr Mary Bousted

General Secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers

London WC2

Warning to Nobel prize protesters

To whom exactly would Beijng be issuing a warning over this year's Peace Prize choice (report, 26 September)? It seems that the Chinese government is under the same misapprehension as your reporter who writes that the "Norwegian government . . . appoints the Nobel Prize Committee".

In his will (1895) establishing the prize "for champions of peace", Alfred Nobel specified that it was to be awarded "by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting" [Parliament]. The Storting proceeded to elect five members. This committee is independent, and over the years it has become increasingly distanced from the Storting.

In 1937 the latter decided that cabinet ministers should not serve on the committee. The previous year, the prize had been awarded to Carl von Ossietzky, imprisoned by the Nazis in a concentration camp. The Nazi regime had warned Norway that such an award would be seen as an unfriendly act. The committee bravely ignored these protestations while the Norwegian government pointed out the independence of the committee.

Forty years later, the Storting decided that its members should not participate in any non-parliamentary committees that it might appoint. Until 1977, members of the Storting continued to play an important part in the committee. In the same year, it resumed its original name of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, after having been known since the earliest years as the Nobel Committee of the Storting.

If the Chinese government were to issue a formal protest following the award to Hu Jia or another Chinese dissident, the only precedent is Hitler's protestations mentioned above.

Dr Peter van den Dungen

Department of Peace Studies

University of Bradford

Save football from foreign owners

Sepp Blatter is right to call for new rules on the ownership of football clubs by foreigners, especially at a time when the "credit crunch" is beginning to affect sport. In particular, his fears that highly leveraged deals by foreigners, with no local connection and purely a business interest, to buy into the highly lucrative English Premier League clubs will lead to the downfall of the "beautiful game" are fully justified.

He was also right to make his concerns known to European Union lawmakers, particularly in view of the EU freedom of investment and competition rules. But this need not be a problem for introducing a strict licensing regime for foreign owners, given that the European Commission and the court have consistently made an exception for sporting rules whose restrictions go no further than is reasonably necessary to achieve their sporting objectives. This, surely, must be for the good of the game.

Professor Ian Blackshaw

The International Sports Law Centre

The Hague

No quick cure for drug addiction

Your article on detoxification under anaesthesia (2 October) cites the wish of Dr Waismann to have opiate-addicted individuals come to hospital, "lie down on a table" and be promptly cured – presumably with the ultra-rapid detoxification regimen that he promotes.

In fact, every credible study over the course of decades has documented the reality that when treatment of addiction is terminated relapse is the rule rather than the exception. Addiction is a chronic medical condition, and like all other chronic illnesses defies cure – for now. Holding out false hopes is a tragic disservice not only to those who are addicted, but to society as a whole.

Robert Newman MD

Director, Baron Edmond de Rothschild Chemical Dependency Institute, New York

Strange confusions over the Atlantic

Terrence Hollingworth (letter, 1 October) misses the point of Derek Bradstreet's letter. Bradstreet didn't dispute that the French Concorde made the first crossing of the Atlantic, only that the crossing was reported as commencing in Washington, DC.

It seems that the 26 September 1973 crossing was the first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic by Concorde. The outward trip on 20 September had included a landing in the Canary Islands.

Now (letters, 6 October) Hollingworth conflates the 26 September 1973 crossing from Washington with a trip by another French Concorde on 17 June 1974. The latter was from Boston, Massachusetts, starting at the same time as a 747 from Paris and returning to Boston seven minutes before the 747.

Roger Chapman

Keighley, West Yorkshire

Vote for objective, accurate history

Andrew Roberts (4 October) claims that all historians need to do to nurture patriotism is to "teach a completely objective, accurate account" of "Our Island Story". Hence it is rather disconcerting to read that Professor Roberts believes that the 1884 Reform Act permitted "every working man to get the vote".

I was taught at school that this Act excluded some 40 per cent of the adult male working class – lodgers, adult sons living at home, servants, paupers – from the franchise. However, my teacher was a Welsh socialist, whose analysis doubtless was biased, lacking the authority and objectivity of the doyen of modern Conservative historiography.

Dr Roger Magraw

Department of History

University of Warwick, Coventry

Briefly...

Wise Brown

You've obviously well and truly got it in for Gordon Brown, and your daily reporting and opinion make this abundantly clear. But may a small voice of contrary view be heard in your pages? For dithering and dispute read circumspection, consultation, discussion, deep analysis, thoughtfulness and wisdom. That, in my view, is the best way to run a country.

Ian Flintoff

Oxford

On the train

I cannot understand people's irritation with mobile phone users in railway carriages (Mike Phillips' letter, 6 October). I can understand being irritated by artificial noises, such as a radio or music player; but the human voice? People who are irritated by the human voice must spend a lot of time being irritated.

Dennis Leachman

Reading, Berkshire

Attractive and clever

It was gratifying to see that The Independent has not caved in to criticism, and has adhered to its policy of insisting that only attractive, middle-class girls pass A-level exams, by publishing a picture of attractive, middle-class girls alongside a story on A-levels (8 October). There's no story that is not enhanced by a cliche photograph. I look forward tomorrow to a picture of young women in high heels and short skirts, vomiting in the street, to illustrate the effects of binge-drinking. Well done, keep it up.

Michael O'Hare

Northwood, Middlesex

High-speed 'Hamlet'

It is useful to know from Ms Heywood (letter, 4 October) that the RSC has made cuts of 45 minutes in the current production of Hamlet. Perhaps the company can be encouraged to restore the cuts when the production transfers to London, where late evening transport is not the problem it is in Stratford.

S W Massil

London N8

The sock problem

For years now I have purchased cheapish, identical plain black socks a dozen pairs at a time (letter, 7 October). I discard them individually as they become "unfit for purpose". When only a handful remain, I bin them all and start again with a dozen identical pairs. Unfortunately this strategy means I also have drawers full of accumulated non-compliant socks received as presents.

John Morgan

Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear

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