February 9, 2009
The crass behaviour of Britain’s financial aristocracy rivals the last of the Bourbons. Marie Antoinette famously patronised the Parisian mob with her ‘let them eat cake’, while dining in luxury in the Tuileries.
The City bankers who ruined their banks but have been kept in employment by the taxpayer now demand we pay them their bonuses to maintain the aristocratic lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. They know no shame and take no blame. They are lucky the British have no guillotines in stock.
Is the public outrage simply the politics of envy? I think not. Most of us have no problem with successful entrepreneurs earning lots of money. They rightly command respect, as the backbone of a healthy, private enterprise system.
The bonus-hunting bankers, by contrast, stand charged with destroying wealth on an epic scale. Foolish, greedy, irresponsible behaviour and excessive risk-taking led to massive losses and the crisis in the banking system which is now costing millions their jobs and many their homes. Why should such failure be rewarded?
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