Are we allotments codgers the only people still worrying about the effect of global warming? Probably not but world leaders certainly seem to have decided that wars and bailouts are infinitely more important. We expect little else from them, our biggest frustration is the view of so many that people who fret about bees and the like are anoraks. Our concern is that bees pollinate almost two-thirds of the things we eat. No bees, starvation all round.
We have gone to great lengths to plant flowers essential to the survival of bees and we take delight in spotting their arrival. Of course, as Chris Packham has shown in his excellent TV programmes, bees are part of an ecological chain so every aspect of wildlife needs help as we send in the bulldozers to destroy habitats. This is no longer a matter for nature lovers alone, our grandchildren need us to act now.
But such things seldom make the headlines. Whilst the natural earth is progressively hammered to death we read instead about politicians and city slickers. In fact, under the present government the two are really one. During the uproar about the mess that the banks have landed us in we were warned again and again that were we to upset the financial experts they would simply move elsewhere. The same stuff was wheeled out when details of the obscenely high bonuses and salaries of bankers and executives of FTSE top companies. Even the fact that they almost all practice tax-avoidance was justified. They will go elsewhere boomed George Osborne. To Greece perhaps?
The worst example of greed on a giant scale has featured in this blog on many occasions. Bob Diamond takes home salary and bonus payments that mere man simply cannot comprehend. He, we are supposed to believe, has made Barclays Bank a world leader. Hmm. Even if this were true it is hard to accept that his rewards, and those of his top executives, must equal the total rewards provided to thousands of banking staff.
Suddenly we learn something else. Not only has Diamond been pocketing money capable o making even a Premiership footballer go green with envy, he has been running an incompetent and dishonest organisation.
Barclays have been fined a record £290 million for distorting the cost of loans paid by millions of customers. It has been found guilty of repeatedly distorting basic financial data used to set interest rates on millions of loans and other transactions around the world.
The scandal relates to the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), the interest that banks pay on money they borrow from each other. The Libor rate is one of the basic pieces of information on which trillions of pounds of financial transactions are based. It helps determine the interest rate that is applied to loans, mortgages, credit cards and business loans. Regulators have concluded that between 2005 and 2009, Barclays traders and managers regularly made “false reports” in order to push up Libor and other interest rate measures higher or lower than its true rate.
E-mails show Barclays traders to staff, submitting Libor data, demanding manipulation of the figures. A typical one asked that “we go crazy with raising 3-month Libor”. The reply said “done, just for you big boy”. An external trader asked that the rate be lowered to save him “becoming a dead man”. Back came the reply “OK”, a response that drew an invitation to “come over and I’ll open a bottle of Bollinger”. And so it went on, deceit heaped on deceit and to hell with ethics and customers alike.
Diamond’s response to this latest outrage is to promise not to draw his bonus for this year. That still leaves him with a gigantic salary plus share options. The senior Lib Dem peer, Lord Oakeshott, probably spoke for most people when he remarked that if Diamond refuses to resign, the Board should have sufficient backbone to sack him. Oakeshott said that under Diamond Barclays had become “a casino that was rigging the wheels and loading the dice”.
This government has plunged new depths by allowing people such as Jeremy Hunt to dump blame on to junior staff, to fire them and to carry on in office Whatever happened to the principle that the person in charge is always responsible for what happens in his or her operation? If Diamond didn’t know, he was incompetent, if he did he was condoning criminality. Either way he must go.
The decent, hardworking banking staff at Barclays and the millions of its customers have been deceived, treated with contempt. The fact that other banks may have done the same is irrelevant.
All this came on the day that we were warned our contribution to the European Investment Bank is about to rise by another £1.3 billion as part of the EU efforts to save the Euro!
Stop the world, I want to get off!
SOME MEMORABLE QUOTES; “If you want to hurt your parents and are not brave enough to become a homosexual, go into the arts”….Kurt Vonnegut “People make a living donating to sperm banks. Last year I let £500 slip through my fingers”….Robert Schimmel “The easiest job I ever had was a store detective in a piano shop” ……Rainer Hersch “Awards are like haemorrhoids; sooner or later evry asshole gets one”….Fredderic Raphael “I never accepted a knighthood because just to be me is honour enough”….George Bernard Shaw “Computers are like humans, they do everything but think”…..John Von Neumann