THE VILLAGE SOAPBOX
Ron discusses Self Regulation, Airline Safety and Art
Successive governments have always been reluctant to introduce controls if they thought they could get away with relying on self-regulation. Unfortunately self-regulation rarely works, individual greed and self fulfilment usually gets in the way. Members of the Press nearly always yield to the pressure to boost their circulation rather than to their moral responsibility to an individual or even to the truth. MP's are relied upon to act according to highest moral standards, but not all of them do, we hear too much of sleaze. Even ministers fiddle their expenses. Members of the House of Lords have been known to accept bribes. Celebrities regard it as the right thing to do to put their riches in some tax haven so that they can avoid making the proportional contribution to the costs of society that moral justice would dictate.
Although there is a Financial Services Authority, the truth is that they have largely relied on the banks and the City to be self-regulating, but greed easily overcame any sense of moral responsibility. Bank chief executives and directors reward themselves beyond all reason. They are able to do this because the major shareholders are large institutions managed by executives/directors who also pay themselves excessively high rewards and whose pay may be approved by non-exec directors who are directors from the banks and City. They are all in effect in an exclusive club that indulges in unmitigated, unregulated and uncontrolled greed.
Lawyers are almost as bad, some solicitors charge fees in excess of £300/hour, many charge around £200/hour, fees that are far far removed from what another professional person might earn. Barristers are even worse with fees of an unbelievable level such that the whole justice system is under threat with justice becoming something that is only available to the rich.
The conclusion must be that, as a society we are losing our sense of moral responsibility. With the examples that are set by the wealthy and the leaders in society it is not surprising that others find it more difficult to keep to the moral high ground. It is not surprising that the very poor, those dependent upon social benefits, should be tempted to try and cheat the system. Quite rightly, of course, there is considerable effort by social services and the police to combat benefit fraud. Unfortunately, since it would appear that we cannot rely on people's moral behaviour then it seems that, if there is any chance of having anything like a fair, just and properly run society, there is a need for much more control in all walks of life, not just for those on benefit.
The recent crash of a Turkish plane in the Netherlands led to some comments about the safety record of Turkish Airline. The statistics are often quoted in terms of the number of fatal accidents per million flights. This figure for Turkish Airlines is 3.6. On the face of it that doesn't seem too bad. Your chances of being involved in a fatal crash whilst flying with Turkish Airlines are about one in three-hundred-thousand. The figure doesn't look so good however when compared with a first class airline such as BA. For BA the figure is 0.17. Thus with BA your chances of being in a fatal crash is one in nearly six million. In other words you are 21 times more likely to be in a fatal crash flying with Turkish Airlines than you are with BA. In Europe Olympic appeared to be the second worst, although better than twice as good as Turkish.
Because the accident rate is so low these figures are somewhat questionable of course. Larger airlines have a greater number of flights on which to base the statistics, but this can count against them as much as for them. Nevertheless these figures are probably the best guide we have. BA has one of the lowest rates, Lufthansa are almost as good as are Qantas, Air New Zealand and most American lines. I could not find the data for Ryanair. To some extent it may be true that the more expensive lines are also the safest. Whilst Turkish Airlines do not look so good against other European lines, the picture is very different when considering Asian, African and South American lines. Air Zimbabwe, for example has an accident rate of 11.5, three times as bad as Turkish and sixty plus times worse than BA. Other poor figures are Egypt Air 7.6, Royal Jordanian 7.99, China Airlines (Taiwan) 7.16. When it comes to South America the figures are even worse e.g. Cubana 18.53 (the overall worst I think), and Aero Peru 9.74. Some of the non-European and non-North American airlines with good results are Kuwait, Emirates, Saudi, and Singapore.
On more than one occasion, I believe, I have complained about the world of art. Especially the vast sums of money paid for paintings, many of which seem to me to be worthless daubs. I do not put all modern paintings in this category and accept that there are some modern works that would be classified as 'impressionist' that can justifiably be regarded as master pieces, but they are the exception in my view. I have admitted that I am probably an ignorant Philistine but I just cannot understand the artistic value of many 'valuable paintings' and, as I have said before, I cannot begin to understand the artistry in an unmade bed, a pile of bricks or a calf cut in half. With the advent of photography, painters were tending to seek ways of being creative and moved away from attempting to paint accurate images of subjects in portraits and landscapes. They might well argue, and I might agree, that there is little or no artistic creativity, just skill, in producing an image of what you see, just as the camera might.
The exception that most of us saw recently, however, was the work of Richard Stone. It was his masterpiece portrait of Mrs Thatcher that hit the news. Masterpiece it certainly was. To achieve such an accurate and fair image of her appearance with a camera might require 100 shots and then it might not succeed. Richard Stone demonstrated his skill and his artistry to be at a level not often seen. Although the focus was on the Lady Thatcher portrait, numerous other portraits painted by him were seen and all seemed to be of the same high standard. Fantastic.
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
"Alcohol is a weak and deadening force, and it is worth a great deal to save women and girls from its influence."
Beatrice Webb, English social reformer 1917.