Forest of Dean & Wye Valley

MODERN TIMES: the Dinosaur Column

In Dinosaur on March 5, 2012 at 1:04 pm

A bad case of rhyming slang:

What is it about bankers? Why do they seem to have the arrogance to assume that they’re indispensable – and that this gives What is it about bankers? Why do they have the arrogance to assume that they’re indispensable – and that this gives them the right to siphon off as much of our money as they like?

Bankers have never been popular – particularly those of the “merchant” variety. It’s no wonder that in the world of rhyming slang, the word “banker” became synonymous with another word beginning with “w”.

Since the markets crashed some three years ago (thanks to the greed of the aforementioned bankers), it’s been a case of “here’s mud in your eye”. They managed to lose thousands and thousands of their customers’ money, they’ve been bailed out, humbled – and still they give themselves pay rises and award themselves massive bonuses. You’d think a certain humility would be in order, wouldn’t you? The odd hair shirt or two, or some ditch-water instead of bubbly?

One recent pay-out came from Goldman Sachs, the banking giant operating out of the City and from Wall Street. Despite a sharp fall in overall revenue and profits, it has managed to find £7.9 billion to share out amongst its top wheelers and dealers. The money is being paid out in pay and in bonuses. We’ve also had RBS and Lloyds going over the top with pay-outs from the money that we gave them to bail them out.

Whilst I think the whole notion of bonuses is suspect, I fondly imagined that it was tied in with performance. If you did well, you got a bit extra to encourage you to do even better. Now it seems that the fat cats think that it’s their due regardless of anything.

Goldman Sachs, incidentally, reported that its revenues had fallen by 26 per cent last year, and profits were down by 47 per cent. Whilst it appears there’s still plenty left in the kitty it hardly seems to me to be the time to be dishing out bonuses on a grand scale.

for the last time, say cheese

I must confess to a pang or two of regret when those household names that we all took for granted over the years give up the ghost. Once they were part of our everyday landscape – and that of our parents..

I felt the shock waves when Woolworths disappeared from our high streets. Now HMV (short for “His Master’s Voice”) have had  a temporary reprieve from imminent collapse. But a bigger shock for me was the news that Kodak (the US company that pioneered the roll film – and even developed the first digital camera, even if it was the size of a biscuit tin) had gone bankrupt.

I remember clicking away with my old Kodak “Box Brownie” when I was just a young dinosaur, and waiting impatiently for the results to be developed and printed. in the local chemists All right, the snaps weren’t all that special, but in this case you have to blame the photographer. And many of them became treasured memories. But nowadays it seems as though fewer folk feel the need to treasure those “caught in time” moments. They’re more into instant gratification – a quick snap on the mobile phone to be shared briefly and then forgotten.

When I was young, though, the world of popular photography in the UK seemed to be shared between Kodak (who had the lion’s share) and Ilford. Ilford are still in business, but have retreated into a niche market selling black ‘n’ white film and accessories.

Meanwhile, the camera market went on to be dominated by the Japanese – and latterly by the Chinese. And now it seems the once mighty Kodak has sunk beneath the waves.

the rate for the job?

We’ve all seen the blurb when one of the big supermarket chains wants to set up shop somewhere There’s always the promise of more “choice” for the customer, and more jobs for the community.

Many of these jobs, though, are highly suspect. Often they’re part time – or imported from elsewhere. And now a report from the Fair Pay Network accuses the four largest supermarket chains of paying staff “poverty” wages whilst make huge profits.

The report says that hundreds of thousands of those working for Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons are not being paid a “living wage”. And the Network’s director, Mark Donne, says it couldn’t be acceptable that profits and executive pay were soaring whilst employees were sinking further into debt. Indeed, more than half of them say that they don’t earn enough to live on. That, it seems, is one cost of our cheap food.

Dinosaur

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