Saturday 20 January 2018

It's time for a new world order

Asking too much of BoI shareholders

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.

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