Thursday 25 December 2014

Little people paying for bigwigs’ greed

Published 24/06/2013 | 05:00

* In America, a small shoal of crafty, pinstriped financial piranhas deliberately and knowingly decided to throw all the rules governing sensible financial lending overboard.

Their intention was to become obscenely rich, regardless of the damage and hardship they would inevitably cause.

The feeding frenzy soon attracted other, equally-ravenous predators whose unwitting prey included countless hard-working but financially unsophisticated young couples.

Banking for Beginners, Lesson One: Every Boom is Inevitably Followed by a Bust. Professional money manipulators already knew this, and what the inevitable end of lunatic over-lending must be. However, besotted with productivity-related bonuses and regardless of scruples, they forged ahead.

Countless thousands of the wide-eyed unaware who still believed that bankers were people of probity and honesty were ushered into the trap.

So, surely the question arises: if a financially unsophisticated mortgage-holder ends up in serious negative equity as a direct result of a professional lender bamboozling them into taking on a ludicrously large loan, how should responsibility be apportioned?

If their house has to be sold for considerably less than the amount owed to the bank, should the basically innocent victim, already suffering terribly, still be saddled with making up the entire difference?

Insult to injury springs to mind.

Some will say it serves the young people right for borrowing too much.

However, financially aware and still-wealthy banks and bankers are being bailed out with billions of euro of taxpayers' money, even though it was their incompetence and profit-chasing which largely created the mess.

But the little people at the bottom – those who are in the deepest trouble – are to get very little real help.

George MacDonald

Gorey, Co Wexford

RETURN OF HIGH KINGS

* In the past two years we have been visited by the queen of England, the president of the United States and, latterly, the family of that same president. Now we are in the throes of celebrating the 50th anniversary of JFK's visit to these shores.

Given the political, media, academic and public reaction to these visits, it is surely evident that we lack what many other societies have – a permanent focus of unqualified adoration that allows us to forget our woes. Such a lack could be addressed by the creation of an Irish monarchy, with all the attendant pomp and ceremony so beloved of our nearest neighbour.

Such a move would require some constitutional amendments and would certainly dilute our status as a republic, but look at the benefits – a new breed of red-top press, a proud and ever-growing list of titled citizenry and, above all, a more content and docile populace.

Imagine – King Michael D!

Larry Dunne

Bray, Co Wicklow

NOT UP TO SCRATCH

* With the midges paying unwelcome attention to Mrs Obama and her daughters in Glendalough, will plans for a return visit now be scratched?

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin

PRESIDENT'S PREACHING

* President Higgins "rails against" materialism in Ireland for its detrimental effects on community spirit.

And yet, Aras an Uachtarain remains as ostentatiously massive and well-stocked as ever, and the president on his throne maintains his almost €250,000 salary.

Instead of paying lip service to anti-materialism, Michael, follow the lead of the Uruguayan president and donate the salary that you don't need to those in our country in the direst of straits. Then you can lecture us on the ills of spending.

Killian Foley-Walsh

Kilkenny

HOSPITALS DO FINE JOB

* Peter O'Rourke (Letters to the Editor, June 21) claims that I have got it wrong, and emotively states that insurance premiums are rising because there are more "five-star" clinics and hospitals where patients are treated quickly and expensively.

I feel he has got the cart before the horse, and has not fully understood the theme of my letter.

The cost of a single room in a private hospital is between €900 and €950 a night, compared with more than €1,100 in a public hospital. Fully staffed emergency departments are to be found in three of the seven large private hospitals in Dublin, not including the fact that the emergency department in St Vincent's feeds into St Vincent's Private Hospital, too.

His claim that private hospitals are not interested in this type of care due to lack of profit rings hollow. It also insults the staff.

I did not "blame" public hospitals for the rise in insurance premiums heretofore, and made the point that the idea that you can bill the insurance company of a patient who is admitted to a public hospital as a public patient simply because they have insurance is patently unjust.

I pay nearly €3,000 in insurance for my family, and I reserve the right to use that premium or refuse to and attend my local public hospital as a public patient.

The insurance companies have been unequivocal in their claim that any premium rise next year will be down to the minister's plans.

"Five-star" private hospitals exist because of the state of the public health system. They are the effect, not the cause. They do a good job.

Turlough O'Donnell

Ardilea, Dublin

UNWORTHY HONOUR

* Mohill, another of the severely distressed unions of the Great Famine, compares with Kilrush in the eponymous honouring of our ancestors' persecutors whose names belong in the dustbin of history.

The name of Crofton, a landlord and yeoman who was hangman at the Battle of Ballinamuck in 1798, was honoured on new housing at Rynn in the wake of the bicentenary commemoration of that massacre. Among his execution exploits was the hanging of General Blake, who had pleaded to be shot as a soldier. Clements, the surname of Lord Leitrim, is also glorified on new housing at Rynn.

Amid this culture of revisionism, plans are under way to erect something of public honour in Mohill to Titanic victim Matthew Sadlier, who belonged to a family of land stewards of the notorious Lord Leitrim, and whose family home was built of the best stones of knocked cottages in a post-Famine series of evictions.

Sadly, there is no plaque of any kind in Carrick-on-Shannon for the 119 rebels who were brought from Ballinamuck after the battle and hanged there – patriots who fought and died for the freedom we so casually take for granted today.

Mary Reynolds

Dublin

SWEET INNOCENCE

* I asked our daughter, Shannon, who is seven, what parents are for. She replied: "To take care of children." Then I asked her what children are supposed to do for their parents, and she replied: "To have fun."

There was a four-year-old child whose neighbour had recently lost his wife. On seeing the man crying, the little boy crossed over to his yard, climbed on to his lap and just sat there for a long time with him. When his mother asked what he had said to the man, the little boy replied: "Nothing, I just helped him to cry."

Barry Clifford

Oughterard, Co Galway

Irish Independent

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