Talking points: 19 March


“Right now, it’s fashionable – and many would say reasonable – to loathe banks and bankers…But here’s the terrible truth: we need banks and bankers, to secure our own future prosperity.”

A reminder Rober Peston, the BBC’s Business editor, gives us that we may hate them all we want. We may also start Facebook groups calling for their dishonour. But when it comes down to the truth of it we really need bankers.

The rage over AIG bonuses is still strong and why shouldn’t it be? For us, these are the people that tampered with our money and not only got away with it, they got bonuses! But here’s a thought presented by Edward Liddy, the AIG Chief executive;
“Americans are asking quite simply why pay these people anything at all…Here’s why: I’m trying desperately to prevent an uncontrolled collapse of that business” to “avoid a systemic shock to the economy”

So should we just give bankers a break? Should we let the people on Wall Street and The City do their jobs and get the economy back on its feet? Or are we more than right to ask for their resignation, imprisonment and , in the case of Iowa senator Charles Grassley, for them to kill themselves?


Should religious leaders always be infallible?
We look up to them, seek their guidance and take all that they say to be not only true , but holy. So what happens when religious figures blunder and make mistakes. Is it acceptable?

Peter Popham  says that  in a succession of high-profile gaffes from offending Jews and Muslims to saying that condoms make Africa’s AIDS problems worse, have made the brainiest pope of modern times the most accident-prone. Is it hard to accept that religious leaders make mistakes?


To strike or not to strike

New strikes in France are set to hold the country to a stand-still. Unions are protesting against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s economic policies. Unemployment has reached two million and is expected to rise further. But in the current economic climate, are strikes the way forward? Would you strike if it meant saving someone’s job even if your own isn’t at risk?

12 Responses to “Talking points: 19 March”

  1. 1 VictorK
    March 19, 2009 at 11:48

    Banks have an important role in a modern economy. Accepting that premiss doesn’t lead to the conclusion that they should never be allowed to fail. Failure is part of the corrective mechanism of a free market; banks aren’t exempt. The ridiculous, hysterical screams to punish or imprison bankers for actions that weren’t crimes when they happened, and the disgusting incitements to them to kill themselves, come from totalitarian-minded economic illiterates.

    I’d rather see an open attack on the Catholic Church (the institution most hated by the left) than disingenuous criticisms of ‘infallible’ religious leaders that can only have one target. The Independent piece linked to was entirely predictable in its anti-Catholicism. Can we look forward to the usual balance, with further links to the Guardian & New York Times (yes, people do in fact notice these things)? Honest debate about AIDS in Africa is pretty much impossible for PC reasons.

    Solidarity strikes in France: the mildly left-liberal ambience attached to so many of the topics you select for discussion was bearable, but this is just too blatant. One in the eye for Mrs Thatcher, eh?

  2. 2 Edward in Florida
    March 19, 2009 at 12:33

    So should we just give bankers a break?

    Most bankers are hard working people trying to do the right thing to keep the economy running so they can get paid their share. They are lucky to have a job. So are the people at AIG and other large companies who were bailed out by the United States tax payers. Forget “fair”, how does it make any sense at all to give people bonuses for running their company into the ground? So those people might quit…who cares? If my employees failed on such a catastrophic level, they would be fired.

    “Should religious leaders always be infallible?”

    Even the people who follow a religion think that only -their- religious leader is infallible. They all agree that “the rest of them” are just people, who are prone to mistakes. How hard is it to take that point of view and expand it to just one more individual? The dark ages are supposed to be over, aren’t they?

  3. 3 Zorana
    March 19, 2009 at 13:18

    Banks should be treated as all other business and should be punished for their bad decisions. In a free market economy the fear of bankruptcy is what makes businesses adhere to sound management. Bankruptcy is the best and most comprehensive regulation that would ever be needed. In a system in which Central Banks interfere to regulate economies (our current system) banks are a tool for money expansion and therefore, a priori, shielded from moral hazards.
    So what we need is in fact a different banking and monetary system.
    We need to abolish Central Banks and their fiat currencies, abolish fractional reserve banking and go back to sound money and sound banking.

  4. 4 ecotopian
    March 19, 2009 at 14:26

    No one is saying we don’t need bankers. What people are saying is we need honest ones. This isn’t about bankers, specifically. It is rather aimed at the entire industry.

    It’s sad that a comedian, Jon Stewart, was one of the few who caught this. His critiques weren’t just aimed at one person. They were aimed at the entire industry and the main stream media that abetted them. Why do we talk about that instead?

  5. 5 John in Germany
    March 19, 2009 at 14:41

    We need the banks of course we do, but only if they are healthy.
    The greed and criminal energy shown by some Bankers has destroyed the mutual trust. But mainly the Greed.

    Here in Germany our bank clerks have become Salesmen and woman. Saving programmes. Building Societies, Insurance, and so on. They do not appear to have much time for normal day to day problems. Not all banks are bad, but that is the tendency. If directly questioned they deny bonus systems, and so on. i do not believe this but difficult to prove otherwise. At least certain is the promotion system has a point system attached to the turn over in other banking products. Machines give us our statements, and money,and buzz at us instead of saying Good-Morning.

    Eutopia-The old bank manager that knew his customers,and their creditworthiness, by just living in the area, and having all the local knowledge.

    John in Germany.

  6. 6 Rob (UK)
    March 19, 2009 at 15:06

    re: infallibility of religious leaders

    Religious leaders are not selected for their intelligence and have no expertise when it comes to science or politics. Their opinions on these matters are based on speculation and dogma, so we should not take them seriously nor expect them to make any sense.

  7. March 19, 2009 at 17:21

    I do agree that banks are important in our day to day activities. However, in reference to the global economy downturn and that of the case of the American International Group (AIG), I would like to suggest that in difficult times like this, it is important that everybody make some sacrifices. This is especially to all those who are working with banks or organizations that have been bailed out with tax payers money. Bailing out these institutions is a risk and sacrifices governments undertake just to keep people on their jobs, prevent bankruptcy and in the short-run boost the economy. Therefore, bankers should avoid greed at this juncture.

    As per what concerns religious leaders, I believe that they are normal human beings and are liable to mistakes. So if and only if people in such honorable positions recognizes their mistakes, I believe we should understand and let us move on. The pieces of advice I have for such high profile personalities is that they should bear in mind that, they are like teachers or professors and so we believe and take all that they say. With this, I would like for them to make sure before they speak out to the public in order to avoid misleading the masses.

    Solidarity strikes in France: If the strike can bring back the jobs lost or if it could save jobs from being lost, I would support it. However, this economy issue is global. It is affecting everyone, because the new system of Globalization has turn the world in to a global village where an issue affecting one part of the world could easily spread over to the other parts. With this, our world and economy leaders should come together and find common ground as to how they can help normalize this situation or else we all risk sinking.

  8. 8 Ali
    March 19, 2009 at 17:52

    I have indeed been told by a spanish speaking person that they did not wish or think they needed to learn english, even though they were working and living in our country.

    I think that we in America need to teach children other languages in early education. That is somewhat of an ignorant and arrogant if not air headed way of a culture that is supposedly a leader in the world.

    I myself am of hispanic heritage and my own mother came to this country in her mid 20s. Although she can communicate in english, for a woman who has lived most of her life in this country, she is 83 now, she should be able to converse in fluent english. By her own admission she has said to me that she basically did not venture out of her circle of spanish speaking people therefore not needing to master the english language.

    If I decided to live in a country that did not speak english I have not doubt that I would strive to learn the language of the country.

  9. 9 Christopher Tasy (California)
    March 19, 2009 at 20:38

    After reading Peter Popham’s article in The Independent and Rob (UK)’s follow-up (re: Pope Benedict’s alleged “gaffes”), both individuals need to understand where the Holy Father is coming from. Regarding just his comments on condoms and AIDS, he’s quite correct in stating the former makes the problem worse. The use of condoms gives one a false sense of security in STDs, but also promotes unbridled sexual activity, something we of the Christian persuasion find sinful. The Pope is less concerned with existentialism than with righteousness and spirituality. Sinful behavior breeds separation from God and that is Pope Benedict’s message.
    The Holy Father is, indeed, the most learned pope in recent memory and his recent comments on AIDS, inter-religious dialogue, and the Lefevbreite bishops were not only correct, but obviously beyond the intellectual and spiritual scope of most.

  10. 10 Dennis Junior
    March 20, 2009 at 04:53

    So should we just give bankers a break?
    NO…But, The comments of Charles Grassley are totally unacceptable and not proper language…I would further it down to his own opinion.

    I think that he is making a valid point regarding hating the bankers…They are somewhat of the troubles in this economic recession…
    Should religious leaders always be infallible?
    Religious leaders make mistakes….they are not perfect…
    To strike or not to strike:
    i think it a waste of time to strike….because in reality most of the
    public will not support you in the long-term….

    ~Dennis Junior~

  11. 11 Ewewale
    March 21, 2009 at 13:39

    Americans have every reason to be upset but they should know that it’s not like these bankers deliberately caused the financial crisis after resolving to do so at a union meeting.
    They made grave mistakes and may be going through the pain or even guilt right now, and the fashion to loathe them and their institution will eat them the more.

    What hurts everybody everyehere is the bonus thing.
    Even if they deserve these bonuses as agreed in ther contracts, they should have waited for lives to be rebuilt, hope to be rekindled, the economy to recuperate, etc, before asking for these settlements.

  12. 12 George V
    March 21, 2009 at 15:39

    As the banks one could say the following: If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This the principal difference between a dog and a man or bank.

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