Wednesday 1 February 2012

Matter meets anti-matter

Cut off nose to spite your face
It’s not a good week to measure the collective common sense. David Cameron has scrambled to match Ed Miliband’s stupidity, though Ed - to be fair - is only catching the public mood. It started with the affair of one man’s windfall; Stephen Hester, the current CEO of RBS, received a bonus in shares worth around £1 million to go with his £1.2 million salary, and if there’s one subject to unite the idiot left with the idiot right and all the idiots in-between - which is a lot - it’s “fat cat” bankers. It’s a lot of money, but insignificant compared to the billions used to prop up the company. The question is whether we intend this change of ownership to be permanent, or one day hope to return RBS to the private sector. The idiot alliance (have I mentioned them?) would like to take the opportunity to rein-in “excessive” salaries - to save a million here and there; I’d rather we concentrated on recouping our £45 billion - and paid the going rate.

So a lynch-mob mentality ensured Hester waived his bonus, and political collusion ensured his predecessor would follow in the news. Fred Goodwin (as we must now call him) was stripped of a knighthood awarded in 2004, for the crash of RBS in 2008, in 2012. What a petty vindictive people we are to strip someone of an honour, not for committing a crime (for there wasn't one) but for making a mistake. A big mistake, but last I checked there was no monetary limit to a liberal outlook; no excess above which decent minded individuals are excused a pitch-fork wielding response. Peter Tatchell was on Channel 4 news last night suggesting key executives be accountable before the law, and was immediately backed up by some idiot (they're everywhere!) of a Tory MP. Yes, that Peter Tatchell.

In addition to being illiberal, he’s irresponsible. I think it’s usually in larger companies; an employee needs for something to happen, so asks a manager, who asks a manager, who asks another and so on. However much we might be tempted to think otherwise, it’s not a case of incompetence but one of managerial survival. It’s a condition that permeates throughout the workforce, who soon realise that whilst making a decision is preferable, making the wrong decision can cost you your career - and Tatchell (amongst others) would add a legal penalty too.

All companies take risks; for example, from what product to invest in to where they should open stores and how many people to employ. It’s all risk, and all risks (by definition) carry the possibility of failure. Some calculate it well, some badly, but one thing is certain, a company that doesn’t take risks - through fear of career or legal consequences - will atrophy. An economy that criminalises failure is itself destined to fail.


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