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Friday 18 November 2011
Letters: Jobs down, revenue deficit up
It seems obvious that if you sharply contract the public sector and aim to "move" 800,000 people out of that sector then there will inevitably be a time lapse between cause and effect. This time lapse will result in higher unemployment and therefore lower tax revenues, which in turn leads to an increased borrowing requirement ("Pain. But no gain", 17 November).
This government, aided and abetted by the Liberal Democrats, is conducting an ideological crusade against the public sector for no other reason than that it can.
It is time for Mr Osborne and the rest of the Cabinet to wake up to the deep harm their policies are doing to the social cohesion of this country. They must act soon, before it is too late and the "distraction" of a million young people without jobs start to mobilise in a very negative way.
Simon G Gosden
It is no surprise that youth unemployment has reached a record level given the massive increase in immigration under the last Labour government. Many companies say they prefer to employ immigrants because they are better workers. Maybe our cushy benefits system is partly to blame. Perhaps if they didn't have such generous social security benefits to fall back on, this would give Britons the incentive they need to become better workers.
The Government needs to do much, much more on immigration. Merely reducing immigration to tens of thousands, as they have promised, is completely inadequate. The Government needs to be bold, decisive and firm, and bring the number of immigrants in this country back down to the level that existed before Labour's mad mass immigration started.
St Albans, Hertfordshire
Pentagon seeks enhanced killers
Can somebody remind the Pentagon, currently spending $400m a year researching ways to "enhance" the human fighter, that the United States has pretensions to be a civilised nation? ("The quest for the ultimate human killing machine", 17 November.)
Research to produce a better-designed thumbscrew is a waste of time, since torture has become illegal. Money spent on developing an easier way of branding slaves is now futile, as slavery has been abolished.
In our civilisations, the last bastion of barbarism is war, which legitimises the killing and maiming of other human beings just for belonging to another nation or faith. It is becoming less and less defensible as a legitimate practice, both because it is barbaric and because, as an achiever of a just outcome, it is demonstrably counterproductive (see Iraq and Afghanistan).
And this does not even begin to address the rights of the soldiers who are to be deprived of their own humanity. Spend that $400m on training peacemakers instead.
Latest fantasy of the euro-dreamers
So, two alternatives:
1) Merkel persuades her countrymen to fork out massive sums to prop up the euro in return for Greeks, Italians and others agreeing to do what the Germans (and French?) tell them as regards the running of their economies for ever more. A future crisis similar to the present one does not become an impossibility, however.
2 ) The Italian, Greek etc economies are allowed to go to the wall regardless of the damage to banks' balance sheets (much of which must surely be a reality already) and the world slowly learns to live again with national currencies controlled in a way which is at least democratically coherent, and which can appreciate or depreciate as necessary to reflect their economies' actual strengths and weaknesses. (It works for the UK!)
The first option sounds to me increasingly like a drug-induced fantasy, probably brought on by the same drugs as were originally used by the euro-dreamers.
South Harrow, Middlesex
Several of your correspondents complain about the bond markets in effect imposing new leaders on the electorates of Greece and Italy, rather than them being elected by the democratic process.
The facts are that the electorates of those countries, and who knows how many more, have repeatedly voted for financial imprudence and structural inflexibility, with more than a hint of corruption and illegality. If Greece and Italy had not allowed themselves to fall into hock to the international bond markets, then those markets would not have their current leverage.
If any good is to come out of the mess, then one hopes that it will manifest itself by electorates recognising that they get the leadership they deserve, engaging more closely with the political process, and remembering the simplistic, but eternally truthful, economics of Mr Micawber.
Bankers matched with footballers
Robert Duncan Martin accuses the critics of bankers' bonuses of being hypocrites (letter 17 November), but his argument is directed at a straw man.
Where among the many criticisms of the City's bonus culture has he found any expression of approval for the astronomical salaries of footballers and TV stars? The reality is that for many people, these too seem out of kilter with what is reasonable in a just and balanced society.
If there are arguments to be made in defence of the City's remuneration structures let's hear them properly made rather than mud-slinging at the critics.
Newcastle upon Tyne
Robert Duncan Martin's comparison of capitalists to celebrities is perfectly valid, if celebrities can bring economies to their knees, undermine democracy and cost taxpayers billions of pounds.
It is the feral variant of capitalism that needs to be restrained and the "elective dictatorship of finance" reconsidered.
Segregated buses in Israel
I am writing to tell you of my experience of buses in Israel ("Palestinians board settlers' bus in civil rights protest", 16 November). I lived in Israel from 1995 to 2002.
In 1996, I regularly caught buses from East Talpiot to the centre of Jerusalem. Whenever a Palestinian Arab tried to board the bus, everyone started screaming and the Arab was not allowed to get on the bus. Everybody was very frightened as this was the era of frequent bus bombings by the Arab terrorists who murdered many innocent men, women and children in Jerusalem.
On one occasion, I went to the Tomb of Rachel near Bethlehem and caught the first bus which came along. I got on the bus and was told by the driver that he could only take me to the next stop because I was on a Palestinian bus. I was told I had made a mistake and was not allowed on a Palestinian bus.
African children need Brown's help
Your Diary page enthusiastically cites a World Bank staff member for criticising Gordon Brown's work on education for Africa (4 November). The former Prime Minister, it seems, is guilty of advocating a big increase in aid financing for basic education in the world's poorest countries, part of which he wants to come through a mechanism modelled on the successful Global Fund to Fight HIV/Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis. The problem is what exactly?
Consider sub-Saharan Africa. One in three of its primary-school children are out of school, there is a shortage of 1 million teachers, and a major deficit in everything from classrooms to books and pencils. Africa's children urgently need a hand up the ladder of educational opportunity. Instead donors – including the World Bank – have been cutting back on already inadequate aid budgets. Surely we should welcome the fact that Gordon Brown is using his influence to demand a more constructive approach.
Senior Visiting Research Fellow
The Brookings Institution
Heart surgery change queried
It is absolutely vital that if changes are to be made to children's heart surgery services in England, there must be clear evidence that they will benefit children and their families. Mr Justice Owen determined that there were errors in the way the public consultation was carried out by Sir Neil McKay's committee (Letters, 11 November), that it was therefore unlawful and must be quashed.
As clinicians we adopt an evidence-based approach to treatment and we expect similar standards to be adopted by those proposing changes to the way we deliver our care. If the proposed reconfiguration is delayed, then it will have been for the laudable reason of making sure that the final decision is well founded, lawfully consulted upon and above all does not make things worse for children.
Dr Duncan J Macrae
Director of Children's Services and Consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care,
Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust,
England needs an anthem
Patrick Jones has rather missed the point (letter, 17 November). He complains that the English teams use the British National Anthem. Might he not ask himself why the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish refuse to do so?
This Englishman is as perplexed as Patrick Jones as to why English sporting teams use "God Save the Queen" for their anthem – they wouldn't if I had anything to do with it. It really is the most appalling dirge and must surely contribute to their customary inept performances. "Jerusalem" every time!
The vast majority of our schools start term promptly in the autumn, but take a fortnight October half term, effectively creating a four-term year. Subsequently, during that very long autumn period, the children and staff come back fully refreshed for the run-up to Christmas. This is a less radical, but equally effective, solution than chopping the school summer holidays ("School summer holidays may be cut", 16 November) and the state sector should follow our lead.
Chief Executive, Independent Association of Prep Schools, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
As I was reading your lead item about drug company trials, "Without consent: how drugs companies exploit Indian 'guinea pigs' " (14 November), a feather drifted by and knocked me over. It was ever thus; as soon as a government tightens its legislation protecting vulnerable citizens, the companies move to another country which is more lax. I'm not sure where the drug companies will go next, but I think the phrase is "follow the money".
Like others, I occasionally met Jackie Leven (Obituary, 17 November), a fellow fifer, in local bars before gigs. He was always warm and open and thirsty. But I also recall a gig at the Flower Pot in Derby where he paused mid-show to let a guy propose to his girl. Then he had a whip-round with the audience.
Wha's like us? Damn few and sadly now another one has gone.
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