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Friday 29 June 2012
Letters: Scandal-hit bankers let off again
If Bob Diamond and his colleagues are taking "collective responsibility" for the market-fixing scandal, surely they should collectively resign.
Steeple Aston, Oxfordshire
I have just listened to a mealy-mouthed representative of the Financial Services Authority refer to the latest banking scam (fiddling the Libor rate) as "misconduct", and learnt that Bob Diamond is declining his multimillion-pound bonus.
If my staff had fiddled figures that resulted in me or my company making yet more buckets of money at others' expense, I suspect I would be suffering more serious consequences than that. In the circumstances I'd be only too pleased to decline my annual bonus – if I had one.
If no one is above the law, there seem to be those who come as close as to make little difference.
Once again we see bankers causing damage to our economy, both on a national scale and also to every customer, yet little seems to happen to them. Our society seems to be almost reaching the point that the French were at prior to the Revolution, where the aristocracy were immune to taxation and almost immune to the law.
How long before the members of Britain's "hard-working" middle and lower classes reach the same conclusion as the French did 200 years ago?
The Prime Minister is concerned about possible damage to the City of London from a eurozone "banking union". Given recent events, he should realise that the greatest threat to the City is the rampant greed and incompetence of its leading financial institutions.
Bodorgan, Ynys Môn
A life on benefits should not be an option
The letters you have published (27 June) on the Prime Minister's efforts to return this country to something approaching financial health are snide and negative. The writers seem to have wilfully misunderstood what is being attempted – that people who are capable of working and supporting themselves and their families should be required to do so.
I agree wholeheartedly that a civilised society should provide decent healthcare, education and other public services to its citizens, and that there should also be a financial safety net for those in genuine need. What is not acceptable is that a life on benefits should be on offer as a lifestyle choice.
David Cameron's personal financial circumstances are irrelevant to this debate. Something has to be done to reverse the fortunes of this country, or we will end up like the eurozone countries who thought that there would always be someone else to pay the bills. It's time for a reality check.
You present as a huge injustice the Conservative idea that the taxpayer stop paying huge sums to let unruly youth escape the tyranny of being civilised in their parents' homes. For many of us it was that "tyranny", or reluctance to be civilised, which made us get a job as soon as possible after leaving school.
Your two under-25s illustrating the cruelty of the idea (25 June) are hardly deserving of sympathy. If they are typical, they illustrate better the perils of teenage pregnancy, as both are single mothers under the age of 20. Despite sex education in schools, neither apparently had the sense to insist on a condom for protection against pregnancy and disease from men unreliable enough to have disappeared since. They are estranged from their parents for reasons not revealed.
Of the two, Claudette Shay, has at least found a job. The whole experience may have made her a responsible member of the community. Stacey Prigmore lives entirely on benefits and believes that the withdrawal of housing benefit would make it impossible for her to be "independent". How is it independent to have her rent and other benefits paid by every taxpayer in the United Kingdom? She is dependent on every one of us.
She whinges that living on benefits is tough. She should know that it is pretty tough having to pay them.
Ansty, West Sussex
The idea of disallowing the under 25s housing benefit is not only immoral but self-defeating. All it will cause is a sharp rise in homelessness. This idea that they should stay with their parents until they can afford to buy their own homes is utter tosh.
What about people who have no family, what about those who cannot stay with family for abuse reasons? Are these people to be just put on the street?
First, it was the disabled who the government decided were the cause of the monetary problems, and now it's the under 25s who get the blame for a shambolic government. Who's next, the children, for being born into a country that won't, can't, doesn't want to support them?
Does David Cameron know what he is talking about, apart from "going back to basics"; does he have any evidence or is he just spinning to appease those Tory MPs who want to replace him?
The multi-millionaires in the Cabinet obviously do not know what it is like to be out of work. It is a desperate struggle to make ends meet from week to week. Most people who are without work are not there through choice, but because of poor decisions made by the government and their funders, the bankers.
I was delighted when I heard the Prime Minister calling for the ending of Britain's "something-for-nothing culture". Because this obviously means a harsh government crackdown on all large-scale financial parasites: the idle rich, tax-evaders, the aristocracy and the Royal Family, corporations in receipt of subsidies and tax-breaks, bankers ....
(I hope I got the right end of the stick? This is who the Prime Minster is gunning for, isn't it?)
Dr Rupert Read
Older generation had it tough too
What is it that people have against my generation? John Kampfner was joining the chorus in his article "Greece may be the epicentre …" (18 June) when he said that "the post-war, baby-boom older generation" have "a sense of entitlement".
Our generation started in a world of extensive rationing of basic food such as milk, bread and potatoes. When the word "austerity" is used today, please look at the picture of the late 1940s and 1950s; there really is no comparison.
We experienced high unemployment in the late 1970s and up to the mid-1980s, together with rampant inflation of more than 20 per cent during that time. Those of us who did gain a mortgage had initially to save for a significant deposit and had interest rates usually well above 10 per cent. We did not see our home as some alternative form of credit card facility.
As we experience retirement now, we face some of the poorest pension arrangements of similar economies in the EU. Those of us who tried to save for our old age now have meagre interest rates, usually below the inflation level.
Tarleton, West Lancashire
Aren't older people usually richer than younger? I was poor when I was young. At nearly 70 I am poor no longer. But that's a more or less normal progression, isn't it? We leave home with nothing, work for fifty years and, if we're able and sensible, save or invest anything we can spare after living costs.
I don't think I have "stolen" anything from younger generations, any more than my elders stole from me.
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Rescuing girls from gangs
The new parliamentary inquiry into the sexual exploitation of children has shone a light on the dangers of internet grooming and social media, as well as a worrying trend of vulnerable young girls being exploited within Britain's gang culture.
Sexual violence against young girls in gangs is a hidden issue and at Westminster Council we are in the process of recruiting a new officer to identify who has been affected and provide them with support in conjunction with our wider gangs strategy, launched last year.
The Government's announcement earlier this year of £1.2m investment to help girls affected by gangs was good news, but it's a drop in the ocean in terms of tackling the true extent of sexual abuse in gangs – particularly since it costs about £4,000 to intensively treat each young victim of severe sexual abuse.
We also need to recognise that the influence of social networking and the way women are portrayed in the wider media are key factors in young girls becoming vulnerable to exploitation at the hands of gangs.
There is no quick fix to this issue, but we need the Government to commit to longer-term funding so local authorities can provide young victims with the complex support network they require – whether that be housing, counselling, therapy or other services. If we leave this problem unresolved, the generational impact will be felt for years to come.
Cllr Nickie Aiken
Cabinet member for children, young people and community protection, Westminster City Council
Paxman and the minister
Joan Smith misses the point of Jeremy Paxman's haranguing of Chloe Smith on Newsnight ("Give the viewers a break, Paxo", 28 June). If senior ministers (in this case Osborne and Alexander) don't have the balls to front up their own mismanagement, why should Paxman go lightly on the sacrificial lamb?
Joan Smith is right to criticise the boorish interviewing style of certain TV and radio presenters. But I'm astonished she didn't mention a relevant fact: all the presenters she identifies as behaving badly thus are male.
It is indefensible that male presenters still dominate current affairs. We need equal representation – if only to find out whether women can behave just as badly.
Dr Alex May
Price of glory
Terence Blacker (26 June) is right: how absurd to hope to put serious prices on landscapes, Even on buildings. Back in the late Sixties, the Department of Housing and Local Government wanted St Pancras Station and Hotel not listed – it made Sir John Summerson (then the guru of architectural taste) feel sick every time he passed it. Wayland Kennet (junior minister in the Lords) insisted on them being listed Grade 1. Value then to the officials? Nil. Value now? One of London's glories.
Choosing to die
No one wants someone else to feed them or to wipe their backside ("Dementia? I'd rather kill myself", says Simpson, 27 June). My parents died this year. Both had dementia. Neither would have wanted to be in that condition. Does John Simpson really think that there came a day when one of my parents might have said "Oops, I'm not quite as sharp as I was yesterday. Better take those tablets"?
You report about Aborigine paintings 28,000 years old in Australia (26 June). The report reveals that not only were those ancient people fine artists, but also aeronautical engineers: "The team has found evidence that the site – accessible only by helicopter – was occupied 45,000 years ago." By now, presumably, those clever Aborigines have also invented spaceships and moved to another planet.
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