The economy:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “The boom is over: now we clean up the mess” (Friday, item 2). I presume that your economic commentator Adam Schwab has managed to ride out the share market rout, affording him the luxury of throwing stones at the common investing herd from some higher intellectual place. He tells us that “the market crash is economic Darwinism — the weak, the greedy and the incompetent are found out, while fools (and others who were simply too trusting) will be soon parted with their money. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

This view is so simplistic and (to mimic Schwab) incompetent as to be laughable. Before the black swan arrived companies such as Rams, Allco, ABC Learning, Mariner, Ford, General Motors, etc were well-regarded in the market — and their share prices reflected the view of the market, including people possibly even as intelligent as the Schwab himself.

Presumably Schwab is now driving a rather large Bentley, paid for from the proceeds of his short selling of these shares. Or was he possibly too foolish to realise that his prescience gave him a unique opportunity to make a profit on the downside?

Brian Crooks: I can’t understand why the brains at Crikey have not woken up to the real cause of the financial collapse — is it they are just not interested? It’s exactly the same reason as 1929. The top greedy 20%, in company with conservative governments, are winding down the earning power of the masses. They are re-distributing the wealth at an ever increasing rate.

Company profits should be divided into cash reserves, executive payments, wages, and dividends — not just executive massive payments, cash reserves and dividends — a fairer return to all. In the old days a record profit meant staff bonuses and the hiring of more staff. Now, they lay people off and expect the staff to work even harder, for lower wages. Bring Franklin D. Roosevelt back quick — he knew the answers.

Julian Burridge writes: Re. “Selling the effects of short selling short” (19 November, item 2). Shorting means that there will always be buyers! Without shorting there may be none.

MPs behaving badly:

Rob Kbak writes: Re. “Former MP fights back: electorate staff behave badly too!” (Friday, item 12). The response to your article about Tony Stewart and other bullying MPs from gutless former MP “Harry Wilde” is laughable. All that the email proved was that “Harry” should learn to hire and manage his staff.

All bosses face challenges of people management but this man either picked the worst selection of workers in the history of the world or had no management skills at all. Either way he’s a failure. If he is telling the truth, and who would know because he didn’t have the guts to use his real name, then he allowed his staff to rip off taxpayers — what a disgrace.

I know a number of political staffers and they are the ones I feel sorry for, having to put up with the moods of their hot-headed and ego-driven bosses. I certainly don’t feel sorry for some wussy MP who doesn’t know the first thing about managing an office or staff and allows this fraud to go on because he’s scared of the media.

Michelle Healy writes: I worked for Wayne Swan when he was ALP State Secretary. I recall that there were one or two staffers who were slightly wary of him, but that was only because they were afraid he may actually ask them to do some work. For those who were bone lazy and apathetic, I guess he must have seemed a little intimidating.

In any case, I had never known him to be rude to any of the staff at Head Office, even though it could be uncomfortable to be at the end of his withering stare. For my part, he was a great boss – completely professional and dedicated – and was very understanding (and admirably kept his cool) when, despite my good intentions, I made one or two accidental stuff ups during the campaign.

Pension policy:

Ava Hubble writes: Re. “Court of Human Rights’ shock decision on UK pensions” (5 November, item 16). Further to the saga of the UK’s long-standing frozen pensions policy: On November 5 Crikey reported at some length on the shock decision that the European Court of Human Rights had rejected a claim by a consortium of expat British pensioners that this long-standing British policy is discriminatory and in breach of the Human Right Act.

The consortium, however, has just announced it will appeal the decision. The bitterly resented frozen pensions policy penalises contributors to Britain’s mandatory National Insurance Fund pension scheme who retire to most Commonwealth and former Commonwealth nations. Those contributors include many Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians and South Africans who spent years working in the UK. In line with the policy their pensions are not regularly updated in line with inflation.

Yet the policy does not adversely affect contributors to the fund who retire to most non-Commonwealth nations. For years an international consortium of expat British pensioner groups have fought to get the policy rescinded. Following unsuccessful action in the High Court in London, the Appeal Court and the House of Lords it was widely expected that the ECHR would find in favour of the half-a-million people penalised by the policy.

Television, the drug of the nation:

John Taylor writes: Re. “Last night’s TV ratings” (Friday, item 23). Look, your item on Thursday’s TV viewing figures has finally prompted me to have to query the “official” TV ratings. Supposedly on Thursday night 1.243 million people watched RPA. Why? Really, among your readers are there 10 who will admit to watching this gross show? Were the 1.243 million actually watching or were they asleep with the TV on?

The other thing I want know is how TV ratings work when I record things for future viewing. Do the advertisers get a rebate for every set in “record” mode because obviously I’m not going to watch commercials on a recorded programme. My regular schedule of TV viewing differs considerably from the set programme and I’ll bet I’m not alone. Why haven’t advertisers woken up over many years that the TV ratings are a fraud?

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name — we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

Peter Fray

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