It's time for a new world order
Asking too much of BoI shareholders
Published 19/10/2008 | 00:00
Sir -- Richard Burrows' defence of the levels of pay and bonuses given to the heads of Ireland's financial institutions (Sunday Independent, 12 October, 2008) reflects the moral bankruptcy that pervades not only the world of high finance but much of the philosophy that underpins the market economy.
A philosophy that allows market forces to be the sole arbitrator in dictating how economies function can lead only to the impasse of fiscal bankruptcy in which we now find ourselves -- an impasse that has been fuelled by unbridled acquisitiveness, by outlandish pay rewards for those at the helm of financial institutions and business empires, and by a hesitancy by governments to impose levels of regulation and restraint to protect the ordinary citizen.
There is a fortuitous irony, perhaps, in the fact that institutions which, only a short time ago, would have viewed interference by governments with the greatest distrust are now coming, cap in hand, to be bailed out by the taxpayer. This is surely an opportune time for governments to set new standards of regulation and accountability, to establish ethical norms which will put an end to higher executives of financial institutions being paid in excess of 50 times more than those at the tellers' desks, and to ensure that the heads of business empires, instead of being allowed the luxury of residing in tax-free havens, contribute their fair share to the economies from which they are drawing their wealth.
Yes, we need entrepreneurs and financiers, but we also need a new world order where amassing enormous personal wealth on the backs of the lowly paid is viewed as immoral and where routes to tax-free havens are closed down.
Micheal O Madagain,
Carraig an tSionnaigh
Sir -- Ronald Quinlan's exclusive (Sunday Independent, 12 October) on the Bank of Ireland chairman's defence of the exorbitant high pay levels that executives of his bank enjoy defies belief. A quote from Mr Burrows states, "For Bank of Ireland we have to put in remuneration levels which allow us to retain and attract the best people to run Bank of Ireland in the interests of shareholders".
Bank of Ireland shares have fallen each week for countless weeks, and to expect shareholders who see their shares continuing to drop in value to be content with the very high pay levels that are given to executives, is asking a bit much.
Greystones, Co Wicklow
Sir -- Like many people in the late Forties, I emigrated to find work -- but thank God was able to return to enjoy my retirement. Naturally there were many changes, most for the better. Also, unfortunately, a lot of waste in government departments. The Spire was built to celebrate the Millennium -- which no doubt looks nice, but why did we not have the 'Dublin Eye' which would bring in revenue instead of costing money? Then there was an electoral computer which didn't function; the same government gave themselves a pay rise while our nurses struggled on, apologising to patients for the "no bed" situation.
Greed and the love of money have caused the problem we have today, the banks being the greatest culprits of all.
Ballinasloe, Co Galway
Sir -- Once upon a time, lowly people went to the bank with cap in hand and said, "Please, sir, can I have some more?" Isn't it funny how the role has reversed. Now the mighty banks have come to the lowly people and asked, "Can we have €400bn?" I don't remember the "please" word.
The Government, on our behalf, has guaranteed the banks' liquidity for the immediate future. It was the only right thing to do, but it must follow this up and take a share in the banks, ie part nationalisation. This will ensure that when the banks become profitable, the Government can earn dividends. When the time is right, they can then privatise again and bring more money into the State's purse.
An ordinary individual must account in detail how they intend paying back borrowings. More transparency is required from the banks that we are underwriting. I hope that the lesson in humility will be well worn by them.
Ardara, Co Donegal
Sir -- Having just visited a number of airports in Asia -- such as Changi, Incheon, and Hong Kong, where low-cost carriers, like other carriers, easily dock at an airbridge -- I was intrigued to read from Paul O'Kane's letter ('Airbridge design at Pier D', Sunday Independent, 28 September, 2008) that the lack of availability of airbridges at Pier D is not the Dublin Airport Authority's fault, rather it is the fault of the low-cost carriers.
Needless to say, this should be a relief, especially to someone who is dashing from their aircraft to Pier D in driving rain, and in the process slips and breaks their neck.
The argument is almost like a customer ordering guns without safety catches, and then the manufacturer stating it is not their fault if someone gets killed by the guns.
Pier D is an accident waiting to happen, and I don't think any reasonable thinking person is going to buy such an excuse.
By the way, the airline I was travelling on would be (as I would be) surprised to learn that it was a low-cost carrier, so thank you for the Pier D brush-off. It just does not wash with me, although I am sure I will get washed many times, landing at said pier.
Blackrock, Co Dublin
Sir -- Was this Liam Collins's first ever trip abroad ('A glimpse of the fjord focuses your mind', Sunday Independent, 12 October, 2008)? He was very eager to praise the Scandinavians to the detriment of the Irish.
"Bergen is the wettest capital in Europe." Yes, it is certainly a wet city (over 200 days a year with precipitation), but it is not a capital. That would be Oslo, Mr Collins -- the city you flew to from Dublin via Stockholm, just before you told us how efficient the Scandinavians were (even though they cancelled your direct flight without warning and made you fly one hour further eastwards and back .
Yes, Oslo, where you walked up the "main thoroughfare" from the station to the palace. The thoroughfare has a name; Karl Johann and is the best known street in the country.
You then boasted of the food at the wedding you attended where "only the wine and beer came from the supermarket". Wrong again, Mr Collins. Norwegian supermarkets are not allowed to sell wine (or even beer over 5 per cent alcohol). The demon drink can be purchased only at the "vinmonopolet" or state liquor store. I can't imagine that would go down too well in your native country.
May I suggest that Mr Collins return to Norway in January, when the temperatures can sink as low as minus 20 degrees centigrade and when two feet of snow can fall overnight. He would have to get up very early in the morning in order to clear his driveway and get to work on time. On a clear day, he may even get six hours of daylight to enjoy the wonderful scenery.
Castleknock, Dublin 15
Sir -- I had to argue with a friend yesterday who called this Government a load of incompetent crooks. I pointed out strongly that, as crooks, they were extremely competent, as politicians they were excellent and as confidence tricksters they were absolutely top of the league. It's only at running a country that they are utterly useless.
Their enormous competence as conmen is proven by the fact that, never having studied any aspect of running such a huge operation as a country prior to entering their chosen party and thus, naturally enough, making a gigantic mess of it in every possible area, they then get us to vote them back in every four years. Sheer genius.