I am intrigued by the debacle over Fred Goodwin and his knighthood, or lack thereof. There is an interesting article in The Telegraph which suggests that it is nothing but a political game and a “capitulation to mob rule.”
I am equally intrigued by the farce over Stephen Hester and his bonus. At one level, I don’t disagree that the bonus seemed a bit outrageous in this time of recession, but we need to get some perspective. Firstly, like it or not, it is true that if you want the best people you have to pay for them accordingly. I’m sure I can hear voices of disagreement, but if you’re not going to object to the fact that football managers get paid several times what Mr Hester was paid and most clubs will pay handsomely for their players then you’re not being consistent. Similarly, I have no time for those Union bosses who whine, without even suggesting that they should cut back on their own six figure salaries.
Secondly, whereas we may be right to acknowledge the fact that there have been some terrible mistakes in the banking industry, the way in which it has become popular to vilify anyone remotely connected is deeply concerning. Toby Young, in the aforementioned Telegraph article suggests that if such vilification continues, “the consequences for the British economy will be catastrophic,” but there is more to it than that. To point the finger squarely at the bankers, and to enjoy blaming those who appear to have more than us (“in the interests of fairness,” perhaps) is to subconsciously or otherwise absolve ourselves of all responsibility. Yes, some people may have done more to damage the economy than others, but would you have done anything differently? Would you turn down a large bonus? Do you think that you have a right to buy what you want when you want? Have you got a good rate on your mortgage and a large credit card bill?
With rights come responsibilities and it’s amazing how many people appear to ignore that. If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above then I suggest you think twice before opening your mouth and blaming the bankers. Take the speck out of your own eye first, and all that…