Sunday 5 June 2011

Sunday, June 05, 2011 Posted by Jake No comments Labels: ,
Posted by Jake on Sunday, June 05, 2011 with No comments | Labels: ,

“Die Engländer gehen nach dem Prinzip vor, wenn du lügst, dann lüge gründlich, und vor allem bleibe bei dem, was du gelogen hast! Sie bleiben also bei ihren Schwindeleien, selbst auf die Gefahr hin, sich damit lächerlich zu machen.”
Joseph Goebbels, 1941

Goebbels, the World War 2 Nazi propaganda chief, knew something about lying having put in a lot of practice himself. He put it pithily: “The English follow the principal, when you lie then lie grandly, and stick to your lies! Thus they stick by their swindles even when it makes them ridiculous.” The “Big Lie”. Say it often enough, with sufficient conviction and obstinacy, and the big lie will become accepted as the truth. 

Why are some lies so powerful? The reason is simple:

  • People who make a living from a lie choose it carefully, practice it diligently, and work very hard at repeating it. They repeat it with a smooth unembarrassed confidence that comes from the desperate knowledge that they depend on it for their living. They hide their few lies among many truths. They despise liars, and shun them – not wanting to be judged by the company they keep. For them, it is vital that their own special lie is believed, but are otherwise honest. They are focussed on it.

    • Most people who show a lie to be what it is make their point and move on. They have no long term interest in dwelling on the lie. Their triumph comes from scoring a point, rather than from suppressing the lie. For them, the lie is just something to be shot at before moving on to a fresh target.

    Which is why the great lies thrive. Great lies that are used to justify greater rip-offs of us Britons.

    Every now and then, there is a cheer around Britain as one of the professional fibbers is caught out red handed and sometimes red faced. To paraphrase Cole Porter's song about love: Politicians do it, bankers do it, lawyers and accountants are paid handsomely to do it on others’ behalves, even educated professors do it.

    Our heroes on the Radio4 Today programme, Channel4 News, and some other worthy media outlets, chalk up a victory when they catch out and humiliate this minister, or that director, and then they move on to the sport and the weather. For the heroes, it’s a case of “so many lies to swat, so little time”. The ultimate prize for the very best of them being a gig as host on a top television quiz show. No knighthoods for the likes of the excellent John Humphrys (Mastermind) and Jeremy Paxman (University Challenge). And who even remembers that Anne Robinson (The Weakest Link) was once a fearless television and newspaper journalist.

    For the villains, each has their own exceedingly small collection of fibs, which they tend and protect and put on display like the finest amateur gardeners with their prize pumpkins at a village fair.

    The same ministers, directors, professors, make the same deceitful claims that they have already been caught out on. Content in the knowledge that the next interviewer probably won’t catch them out again, that most of the audience won't remember the last time they were caught out, and careless whether any of them do catch them fibbing so long as most of them don't. 

    Some examples of the Great Lies:
    Massive pay packages reward CEOs for success
    Reality: In the last ten years, the performance of companies has stagnated, while the pay of CEOs has rocketed. Graph from the High Pay Commission report:

    Financial Services corporation tax makes a major contribution to overall UK tax.

    Massive pay packages are needed to hold onto the best CEOs
    Reality: CEO’s are hardly ever poached. According to the High Pay Commission, " the last five years only one FTSE100 company has had its CEO poached by a rival, and that rival was also British.... The chance of having your CEO poached by a competitor in any one year would be 0.2%.""

    Massive pay packages compensate CEOs for the high price for failure
    Massive bonuses incentivise fund managers to perform consistently well
    Reality: Only 1.3% of funds (16 out of 1,188 funds with a three year track record) made it into the top 25% 3 years in succession.

    Bonuses are only paid for excellent performance
    Reality: Forget "excellence", the Lloyds Banking Group and the RBS remuneration strategy pays bonuses for better than average performance. Bonuses are paid for being in the top 50% of their peer group. Handing out prizes as though it were a politically correct school sports day aiming to ensure few of the kiddies go home empty handed.

    If bank regulation were anything other than 'light touch' then companies would move to other jurisdictions. Their departure would have a catastrophic impact on taxes:
    Reality: Barclays admitted that of the £2billion taxes they proudly took credit for, only £113m was corporation tax. Most of the rest was payroll taxes paid by their staff - the vast majority of whom would remain in the UK even if Barclays shifted its HQ overseas. The Independent Banking Commission's interim report, in April 2011, stated that only £3billion of financial services tax contribution can easily be moved out of the UK.  That is less than 1% of UK tax takings.

    For the Great Lies to be suppressed, the truths need to be told with matching frequency, persistence and confidence.

    Trade associations and political parties write scripts. The scripts are memorised and spouted by their members at the various interviews: in parliament, in the press, in their annual reports. No matter how ridiculous, their positions are repeated until they become the accepted ‘truth’.

    To help redress this balance, Ripped-Off Britons will build a collection of the “Great Lies” in our Liebrary.

    For this to work more effectively we invite you, our readers, to contribute examples and evidence. We aim for this to be a resource that will be continuously available next time you are preparing to meet or write about or shout at one of those damn liars. Please do this by adding your comments to the posts in our Liebrary.

    If you have suggestions for new "Lies", please add them to our "Liebrary Suggestions", with your reasons why you think it should be added to the Liebrary.


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