Thursday, March 15, 2012

Captain Mainwaring's building society? Letter in The Times

David Wighton writes in The Times (UK) on business, etc, and on Saturdays his full length photo - from big black shoes to a reasonable head of hair - stands full length half-a-page high in the Money section. I'm not sure why this happens.  I always like to know who is writing the articles and a head and shoulders shot is a bit more human than a passport mugshot, but soles to scalp? Is he taking up clothes modelling? I don't get it. 

At the other extreme The Economist doesn't even let you know the names of its writers. I don't get that either. Now, The Economist is a great journal and a good read for anyone wanting to keep track internationally on a weekly basis. Apart from having to cut down some time spent reading, one of the reasons I stopped subscribing to The Econ was the anonymity of writers. Can't readers make up their own mind about the argument if they know who the author is? If we read an article on mansion tax we want to know if the author is a government minister or not. If we read The Economist about the latest on phone hacking shouldn't we want to know the origin? It could be someone who is under arrest on suspicion of the offence. Besides, one does get to trust certain writers - after all, these are they who confirm my prejudices, so it is always a comfort to follow them.  Why would the press hide its authors? Anonymous editorials have their place...but every article?

Anyway, forgive the diversion, David Wighton has set off a run of letters after his Saturday article (March 1oth) referring to Capt Mainwaring of Dad's Army (BBCtv). I followed on and here's my offering in today's edition:

The Editor
The Times

Dear Sir
Surely Captain Mainwaring always used the word ‘bank’ when describing his place of work? But Richard Heller (letters March12) in saying that Captain Mainwaring ‘received money… kept some of it in cash or on call and lent the rest…’  seems to be describing an early form of building society.  The truth behind the  ‘model of banking’ he refers to, was that it allowed the creation of credit under the fractional reserve system and multiplied the received money, thus lending out far more than originally received, but within prudent guidelines. 
A change since Captain Mainwaring’s time, is that the prudence of old style local banking was overwhelmed by loan targets from head office and was one cause of the system collapsing.

Charles Bazlinton
Author: The Free Lunch – Fairness with Freedom

No comments: