Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Waste alot, Want alot

America’s Ethel Grodzin Romm once said, “What could our worst enemy do to damage this strong and beautiful country? He could do no better than to get us to squander our human and natural resources on dubious missions and then trick us into plugging our ears against the howls of those who object” and when Ken Costa openly said, "Anyone familiar with banking and finance will know that it is completely impossible to legislate out bad practise" it is difficult not to assume his condoning words are designed to encourage us to plug our ears to the public outcry at proposals to pay bonuses for failure and persuade us to discard the messy process of bringing the criminal actions of errant executive bankers to account.

Thankfully Lloyds banking groups CEO Antonio Horta Osorio and, after much media attention, RBS CEO Stephen Hester, have both seen fit to decline the proposed million pound bonuses which were heading their way from their largely tax payer owned employers. Their actions may well be the first chink of light at the end of a well established self serving banking tunnel of personal reward which not only highlights the importance of moral accountability within our corporations but clearly illustrates responsible capitalism can never be responsible if the people at the top are not. Although the banks remain an easy target when it comes to double standards, remuneration excesses and the squandering of tax payers money, I can’t help but find myself equally outraged at the news brought home by my husband regarding a recent Marks and Spencer’s initiative.
While I do not pretend to know the ins and outs of all things retail, I cannot begin to understand how M & S can, against a back drop of real hardship for many individuals caught up in the fall out of an ongoing global recession and in spite of their staff's willingness to run it for free, truly believe it is best practise to terminate the nightly waste sale of unsold food to their employees. Instead they now insist these very same people render unsold produce inedible before assigning it to land fill, or at best animal feed and compost. The impact of being unable to purchase discounted produce for their families will undoubtedly be hugely detrimental to every M & S employee but, above all else, it is immoral to squander food in this way.

With mounting evidence that irresponsible capitalism lives on in the majority of our banks as well as in retail giant Marks and Spencer’s too, it is no surprise to discover M&S executives remain deaf to protests of those of us who object. It appears English writer Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864) was correct in his belief that written words are “the only riches our posterity cannot squander” because it seems, as a race, we are collectively doing pretty well when it comes to the squandering of everything else.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Outrageous Attitudes

The thirtieth president of the United States, Calvin Coolidge said, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race” but, even with these tools in my armoury, I question my effectiveness when forced to deal with people who are,

·        dismissive
·        opinionated
·        irresponsible
·        sexist
·        self-interested
·        biased
       ·        full of contempt.

It continues to be a challenge to weigh up and then decide in what way I should respond.
When faced with "attitide" from both HBOS and Lloyds I wrote twenty two letters and made a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

When faced with "attitude" from the Financial Ombudsman’s adjudicator I responded with a fourteen page letter listing the unaddressed points in my original complaint, quoting the FOS guidelines that covered them and requested the escalation of my case to an Ombudsman.

When it was my sixteen year old son who chose to exhibit the very same attitude towards me in outrage at being asked to help with the washing up, it was the withdrawal of Internet access and a phone call to Virgin to cut off his phone that were my weapons of choice.

If only the solution were as simple for the other culprits of compassionless contempt. Thankfully for me, life's trials have equipped me with a “black belt” in both persistence and determination on which to call........most days, and it is my understanding that, “in the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins. Not through strength, but through persistence.”

I live in hope.


Thursday, 19 January 2012

New Year Bonus

Ancient Roman and Christian theologian, St Augustine (354-430 AD) said , “In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized crime?”  and six hundred years later,  not only does sovereignty continue to prove a lucrative pastime but twenty-first century organised crime is now being run by an elitist and untouchable group of bankers. This absence of justice has been the product of auditors who have endorsed rather than audit, governments who have promoted greed over governance and financial regulators who have condoned criminal behaviour rather than condemned it.
Knowing this only serves to make it nothing less than incendiary to discover 80% taxpayer owned Royal Bank of Scotland plans to pay (despite a 43% decrease in its share values resulting a loss of 11 billion pounds from it's market value and the culling of five thousand RBS jobs) 4.5 million pounds to its executives in contractual bonuses over the coming weeks and, with a waive of the auditory magic wand, the banking deities have been permitted to ride roughshod over fairplay and decency in order to harvest their legitimised, but nevertheless morally obscene, rewards for failure.

Unlike those who have failed us, my own efforts have been rewarded with not so much as a listening ear let alone any understanding. Instead financial hardship for my family continues and yet another response from the Financial Ombudsman’s adjudicator, this time in answer to my complaint against Lloyds, proves those who police and regulate the banksters have little interest in fairplay or justice. Once again, and in the same tone as her FOS colleague who investigated my HBOS complaint, I have been informed there is no merit in taking Lloyds to task over such minor issues as their,
  • Fabrication of my consent to make a payment arrangement,
  • Refusal to supply documentary evidence of this alleged payment arrangement
  • Constant harassment of me for reneging on their fictitious agreement.
  • Failure to reply any of my letters with a meaningfully explanation
In addition, my FOS adjudicator feels that it is inappropriate to ask Lloyds to consider my financial circumstances when assessing Lloyds behaviour towards me but instead states she is unable suggest Lloyds write off debt on compassionate grounds. Not only does her statement completely ignore the CAB's request made to Lloyds (on my behalf) to do precisely this but her sentiments are wholly at odds with regulatory guidelines encouraging lenders to show compassion and forgiveness to those who are impoverished and vulnerable. 

David Cameron regularly speaks of responsible capitalism but rewarding the bankers for their failures while ignoring the dire circumstances of their victims is nothing short of elitist capitalism and this falls a very long way short of responsible. In the words of Woodrow Wilson, “the government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of the bosses, their employers and their special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy” and if this is indeed the case, the victims of these untouchable banksters will need a New Year’s bonus of resolve and stamina because a fairer future is clearly going involve a fight.
Here's hoping 2012 is the year in which we will finally be heard.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

New Years Revelations

Believing, like TS Elliot,“ last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice” my New Year’s resolution has been one of mindful determination to mark 2012 with a new and audible voice of my own.  Sadly, my adversaries have neither new voices nor new words for this brand New Year and instead have chosen to sing the same old song.
Determined not to let their repetitive monotones colour my New Year spirit I have started my first child free week of 2012 by replying to yet more unsolicited and largely meaningless correspondence.

I have;

·        Explained to Egg I find selling my husband’s debt to a collection agency all but two years after advising me of their intentions not to pursue him both an unusual and unsatisfactory way of illustrating their compassion.

·        Explained to my very supportive MP that I wish to take my Warmfront complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman in the hope I will eventually secure the heating survey I was promised in December 2008.

·        Explained, again, to the Financial Ombudsman’s adjudicator, who has clearly taken umbrage at my fourteen page letter asking her to follow the FOS guidelines, that I wish to be informed of her reasons for seeking HBOS’s permission to escalate my complaint to a formal enquiry more than eighteen months after she first took my case.

Satisfied all wolves are once again deterred from any temptation to darken my door or my doorstep, I have been able to set aside fears of damage to my children’s sense of well being and turn my attention to the duties of house and home. The task in pole position involves venturing into each unruly but now vacant child’s bedroom while the occupants are at school in an effort to reclaim some floor space and restore some kind of order.

While I remain amazed, but no longer surprised, at the quantity of dirty washing and empty sweet wrappers that can harmoniously cohabit within a teenager’s bedroom if left unchecked, I can still be caught unawares with the discovery of an academic award received but not mentioned or, as on one occasion, an MI5 recruiting brochure abandoned on a bedside table. However, in spite of  more than thirty four years of parenting I was totally unprepared for what I read on the fly leaf of an old but otherwise blank diary I was about to throw away in the name of de-cluttering.

“Dear 2007 diary,

I have kept you because 2007 was a year of no troubles and my life was perfect.
Time flies and it is now February 24th 2011.  I have moved house, moved schools and left the village I have always lived in. Now I have more school work, more home work and have been having a really hard time.

I have kept this diary even though it has nothing it because I wish I could turn back time.”

This simple but heartfelt statement written by my thirteen year old daughter almost a year ago saddens me immensely.  Not least because, unbeknown to me and in spite of my best efforts to keep our persecution at the hands of HBOS completely seperate from family life, my daughter has still suffered its consequences in silence and kept an old and empty diary purely because it represents the last year she remembers being wholly untroubled.

Aware that HBOS has stolen my health, my financial future and, so far, three and a half years of my own life, it did not occurred to me, until the discovery of this very unwelcome New Year’s revelation in the words of a child, HBOS has also stolen three and a half years of my daughter’s childhood and this, for me, is nothing short of heartbreaking.