Pensions and pay are both earnings, and the employer is trusted to pay both at the appropriate time, and occasionally they abuse that trust. The notorious Robert Maxwell helped himself to his employee’s pension funds and was caught doing so. He at least recognised that he was a thief and threw himself into the sea.
So omnipotent is the present Government that they have also done what Maxwell did, and have raided the pension funds of all public sector workers, without consultation. They now face court action because it seems that even governments are not permitted, in a democracy, to help themselves to what is not theirs to have.
The government line of defence is that we all have to contribute to the financial crisis caused by Labour’s failure to regulate the banks, blah, blah, blah. The protest outside St Paul's Cathedral is a reminder of popular believe that bankers were not only responsible for what went wrong, but have also profited from what went wrong.
I opened my first bank account with the Midland Bank, forty years ago, and the Midland Bank was extremely keen to get their hands on my first salary, of about £15 per week. Soon thereafter they were even happier to see that weekly deposit increase over time, but never paid me a penny of interest on my current account, which was never overdrawn, and it did not even occur to me that I could overdraw my account.
But then I noticed that they were adding a monthly charge to my account. “What gives?”, I thought, “Nobody told me they would charge me, for their use of my money.”
The sum I was charged was not significant, but the principal was. I stormed into the Bank and demanded to see the bank manager. In fact, I got to see a pimply youth, just about older than me, but with pimples. He seemed surprised by my aggression, and did in fact offer to refund half of the charges they had made.
Maybe I should not have drawn attention to his shortcomings, but he was the pimply faced representative of the Midland Bank, and they had ripped me off.
I said to him, “If I were to hold up this bank and steal a £1000, and then got caught, would you be satisfied if I gave you just £500 back?”
He gave me a nervous smile which I took to be a display of “job’s-worth” intransigence. I told him I would close my account, which I did.
That is how I came to open an account at the Halifax Building Society, which was soon thereafter privatised into a bank. The bank was promoted with big fat smiley faces, and the promotional smiles grew exponentially ever fatter with the growth and the profit they made over time.
The grinning happy Halifax faces disguised the flaws in their practises and the reckless incompetence of the City of London and Wall Street.
The chief executive, “Fred the Shred” made history out of incompetence, neglect and greed. Not only was he offered a large sum of public money to save his bank, he was paid off with an obscene lump sum of public money, £17M, and a big fat £700K per annum pension, at the early age of 50, seemingly untouchable.
Robert Maxwell is starting to look honourable.