Editor’s blog: This Fred Goodwin rage has gone too far

Well, that’s going to make us all feel a lot better.

Sometimes I despair of the Brits’ love of scapegoating. Together with an overdeveloped sense of schadenfreude it’s one of our grimmer national traits. What those idiots did to Goodwin’s house is the modus operandi that was approved of by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness before they attempted to become respectable.

While the bitter accusations fly and the rancour grows, I wonder how many folk out there are actually starting to realise that the burst bubble had something to do with them and their choices. Something to do with those feckless opportunists who took a 110% mortgage on four times combined salary – and doubtless on an interest-only basis with no hope of ever repaying the capital – because they believed it was their birthright to be a member of the property-owning classes.

Well caveat emptor, pal. Don’t go crying to a member of the Dispatches or Panorama research teams blaming somebody else for your lousy judgment when you can’t pay the mortgage and you can’t sell the property for anything like you owe on it. That’s the downside of capitalism. If you want to embrace Mao’s Little Red Book or a liquidation of the kulaks, fine. Otherwise realise that what goes up tends sometimes to come down with a thump.

Part of the deal of the ‘something for everyone’ culture is a degree of personal responsibility. You have to know how to add up and budget. What you can afford and what you cannot. Work out as Mr Micawber did the hard way that if you earn20 a year and are spending20.06 then the result may well be misery when the banks changetheir minds and decline to support your profligacy.

You cannot just lay the blame for what has happened at Fred Goodwin and Bernie Madoff’s door. They were very determined opportunists with hugely faulty judgments and morals who made the most of the fact that we have all been dwelling in la la land for a decade or more.

I happen to think that many of those who have toiled in shadow banking over this period are worthless, grasping and amoral Midgetsof the Universe who, in their lust for deals, have added sod all value. But that’s neither here nor there.I’ll find it as satisfying as you will if Dick Fuld and a few AIG executives wind up running around the prison yard in a orange boiler suit. But that doesn’t solve the mess. Acknowledging that it was all of us who enjoyed the sun while it was out might be a good start when learning how to cope with the storm that is now battering us.

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    What ‘Sir’ Fred did was to exploit those who did not know better, but for whom regulations and guidelines should protect from themselves (seatbelt law anyone). He is no scapegoat, he is a man made rich on the misery of people he should have turned away.
    When your high street bank says, ‘of course you can have the money for that house’, to someone who cannot demonstrate that they can pay it back, then they are guilty of mis-selling.
    Then you realise they did it because it was adding to their own bonus, which they still took at the same time as the poor fools who borrowed the money were being repossessed and the taxpayer was bailing out their bank. Then to add some icing to his ample cake Sir Fred walks off with an enhanced pension given to him by his peers and worth more in a year than the people he loaned money to will earn in a lifetime, and you wonder why people have lost faith in the banking and legal systems and resort to good old fashioned bricks to get their message across?
    Madoff has been correctly dealt with by the system. Sir Fred is laughing in your face.

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    Woo go careful there. Obviously its pointless breaking windows at Fred Goodwin home and violence is not the route a civilised nation should take. Equally leaders should lead sensibly and set examples clearly Fred Goodwin in hind sight did neither. Whilst someone should not borrow 110% of a mortgage it was irrisponcible of any lender to allow it in the first place i.e no chicken without the egg.
    We have all been conditioned to spend money freely with credit card offers we didnt ask for sent in the mail, adds for cheap loans etc. and yes we should be responsible for our own actions but that cuts across everything including our risk adverse H&S mad society where all the problems are because of company directors or so regulators would have you believe.

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    Breaking a few windows may not be right, but just consider – Sir Fred and his like destroyed peoples lives, it wasn’t a few windows they lost, it was the houses that held those windows. It was the jobs that paid their mortgages, including those who only borrowed what they could afford! The victims of Sir Fred’s greed lost a lot more than a few windows and a night’s sleep – many will have nightmares for years to come!

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    I guess it all comes down to the fact that law abiding societies only remain so when they can see that justice is served. If they perceive that it is not, then they will revert to a more basic instinct and deliver their own version.

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    I agree that damaging property is the wrong way to protest this debacle and should not be accepted, no matter how much of a smile it put on peoples faces. However the increasing frustration that Sir Fred and his cohorts in the banking world are causing through their complete disregard for the failings they have and are continuing to exhibit through acceptance of substantial bonuses and pensions needs to be addressed by them or the courts. Nick Leeson went to jail for “breaking” a bank but Sir Fred and co are given multi million pound cash rewards. Yes, a large number of people have to acknowledge responsibility for taking up 110% mortgages and products but who bears the responsibility of making them available in the first place – Risk managers advised their bosses that this was probably not the best route to follow – why employ these experts if they are then ignored? As for Madoff – he’s a crook that played on people’s greed and will go to jail…perhaps they could make room for a few other crooks at the same time and get a group discount.

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    Many of us only borrowed what we could afford. Saved sensibly & asumed our savings & home would see us through the ‘winter months’ of our lives. Fred Goodwin & Co. looked at people like us, who didn’t greedily take what they offered, as boring & un-enterprising. But Is Fred now going to have to work till he drops? True breaking his windows will not solve a thing but I understand the sentiment. The sheer frustration of injustice against their smug immoral inept superiority. No redress, no answerability. Wouldn’t you sue a doctor who mistook a brain tumour for an ingrowing toe-nail? It all beggers belief.
    Lynda Ammar – 25-Mar-09

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    While I condemn their actions I am afraid you are being too generous to Sir Fred.

    Many companies and individuals are blaming the credit crunch for their woes but Sir Fred is truly culpable on a huge scale with the lion’s share of fault traceable to just two decisions:

    First was the headlong race to acquire ABN Amro with the key driver being to get there before his competitors rather than a carefully evaluated (and diligently checked) objective to add shareholder value.

    The second was to permit major investments in sub-prime investment products at a time when their value was already in question (apparently, according to the Sunday press, while assuring the board that RBS was sub prime free).

    These two decisions have destroyed more than £180bn of shareholder value, more than the accumulated profits of many recent years on which he has claimed very substantial bonus payments that have made him a wealthy man.

    His final ‘crime’, in the eyes of the public, to attempt to mislead the public regarding his severance arrangements when he claimed to have received no severance pay and to receive a pension in line with that of other executives. This is, to most of us, a bald faced lie made worse by the complete lack of remorse that he has displayed.

    To compare a man who has enriched himself hugely for his mistakes with ordinary working people who have suffered greatly for theirs is neither balanced or just.

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    … and of course the government haven’t done the obvious thing: strip him of his knighthood for ‘services to banking” (what a laugh) and disqualify him from being a director because of his recklessness.

    While I don’t condone the vandalism to his property, it’s not surprising some people feel they have to do something.

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    “Acknowledging that it was all of us who enjoyed the sun while it was out might be a good start when learning how to cope with the storm that is now battering us.” Um thank you but I didnt go over the edge even though the opportunity was there. I had sense

    But unfortunately a good proportion of the general public havent developed the skills/conscinece/restraint I have had. The government with their lapdog owners who fund their egotistical desires are the root cause of these problems. Greed was their mantra and to now cry wolf about one of there number beggars belief. Are you a journalist or an apologist to the table of those who advertise in your magazine and pay your wages?

    Yes a brick through the window wasnt great for him but to then express the suprise it happened? That just shows how far up his own backside Goodwin is and how out of touch with the realities of life he really was.

    Bit like most politicians…. wonder when he is going to stand as a NEW New Labour prospect??

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    Matthew, you do realise that Madoff broke the law? It wasn’t people trying to get rich quick and things didn’t go the right way. What he did was criminal, and to suggest its the greed of people who invested…its people who think like you that are the fault of society. My pension has to sit somewhere, that is not greed.
    Right on to J Potter…I hope the editor truly doesn’t feel this way and is just pleasing the advertisers.

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    Talking of pensions, how come Sir Fred’s didn’t go down the tubes along with other funds managed by RBS?