All Have Won….

… and all must have prizes!

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In the Caucus Race, in Alice in Wonderland, Alice asked the Dodo, who was organising the event, who had won.  After some deliberation the old bird replied “All have won, and all must have prizes”.  This seems uncannily to foreshadow modern attitudes to education and pedagogy.

Today in Strasbourg we will be voting on a new EU measure on compensation for delayed airline passengers.  And the new version of the Dodo’s line seems to be “We are all victims.  And all must have compensation”.

Of course a delayed flight is infuriating – I should know, because I spend much of my time on aeroplanes.  And when we’re annoyed and frustrated, it’s very natural to demand that someone should pay.  Equally, it’s a good feeling to get a cheque in the post.

But it’s worth stopping to consider who pays in the end.  Immediately, of course, it’s the airline (and jolly right too, you may say)  But hang on.  In the end, airlines get their funding from passengers through fares, and if we impose higher costs on them, sooner or later we get higher fare prices.  The cost of compensation is not just the total of the cheques paid out, but also the very considerable costs in administration, and in handling the queries and disputes that inevitably arise.  And ultmately those additional costs end up with the long-suffering passenger.  It doesn’t mean that you get back the time you wasted.  It doesn’t mean that you get back the business you lost at that meeting you missed.  It’s just money.  And in the end, you pay for it.

Of course if a flight is cancelled, you’re entitled to your money back.  And we need clear rules as to what counts as “cancellation”.  A replacement ticket for two days time is of little value if you were going for a particular meeting or a particular football match.  Maybe it’s time we all grew up and accepted that sometimes flights are delayed, and we just have to live with it.  It may be for a reason completely outwith the control of the airline – like an Icelandic volcano.  Perhaps it’s a strike, or a mechanical problem, and we could argue till the cows come home as to whether that was the airline’s fault (Should they have settled the strike?  Should they have spent more on maintenance?  Should they have held a spare aircraft in reserve?).  And no airline wants or plans to delay flights or let down passengers.  Let’s just cut through the debate and recognise the risk.  After all we don’t sue the Department for Transport when we’re delayed by a traffic jam.

Much the same comments apply to the huge amounts of compensation paid out by the banks.  Now I know that there’s little milage these days in saying nice things about banks, but the truth is, we need them, and we’d be in bad shape without them.  (Very likely your pension fund is holding bank shares, so punishing banks may well include punishing you).  Compensation payments have been so large that they may have had a material effect on the economy – boosting sales of new cars, for example.  But the costs and the damage to the financial system have been big.  And if there’s been mis-selling, there has also been mis-buying.  Whatever happened to the old principle of Caveat Emptor?  If you buy something you don’t understand, you face a real risk of loss.  So don’t buy products you don’t understand.  Or at least get independent advice.  Those who mis-bought Payment Protection Insurance presumably appreciated the peace of mind that came with it, even if with hind-sight they didn’t really need it.

It seems to me that there’s a strong case for recognising the world as it is.  That includes delayed flights.  And it includes doing some thinking and checking before we make major purchases.  And living with the results of our own mistakes, if we’re unfortunate enough to make them.  I fear that the Compensation Culture is getting out of hand.

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11 Responses to All Have Won….

  1. PJ says:

    It’s getting ridiculous Roger, it’s the ‘blame game’ all ways round. If someone is inconvenienced then they must be compensated and it has gotten totally out of hand. I demand compensation from the government of this country & the EU because my local pub has closed, courtesy of their prohibitionary measures.,My social life has been destroyed and loneliness is now my friend….. how much do you think I should claim?

    • How much should you claim for a major impact on your lifestyle and loss of amenity? Rather a lot, I should think. If it’s any consolation, the pub in my village has closed (it was near the church, because of the thirst after righteousness), and we now have no pub within a reasonable walking distance. So getting a pint of London Pride on draught becomes a major production number.

  2. Maureen Gannon says:

    Roger I cannot respond to your blog in this case as I have what I believe to be the question we should all be asking and UKIP should be shouting from the rooftops about , EU directive 2007 that is the cause of these floods in the Somerset Levels ? I believe you have all let us down by remaining as silent as the rest of the MPs and media ,the only mention I have seen was in the Telegraph and not ONE Mp or Ukip MEP has voiced this to the general public , I personally have written to the papers my MP , silence reigned from all quarters not even Nigel Farage has spoken of it only the greens have had the mein voice harping on about climate change being the cause, that is a lie Baroness Young and Europe are to blame , is if anyone speaks out they lose there pensions. ?.
    I want to know why the silence and at the same time thankful for this media which of course the govt want to control halfway there with their gagging law.

    • silverminer says:

      Well done Maureen. Very well put.

    • willing says:

      Actually Maureen, Nigel Farage has spent a day there, and gave a decent television interview on the subject! Indeed, he has called on the government to divert the millions we give in foreign aid, even to countries with no need of it, to the area of flooding, and to help farmers for example, who will otherwise pay a heavy financial price

      • Maureen Gannon says:

        But has the EU directive been mentioned?If it has I havent heard the furure that would follow. I sent a message to a radio station this morning with a link to Booker ‘s article and the EU directive number NOT ONE word, that is my gripe. we now have farcical staged argument in the blame game his fault no its his fault. oh yes it’s climate change I am sick of the crass hypocracy , John Redwood is on now still no mention. sickening

    • Thanks Maureen. I suggest you see Nigel’s interview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t94qOO746Ho&feature=youtu.be. We are talking about it, and it’s true that EU regulation has played a significant part, although in this case I’m not sure it’s the whole story.

      • silverminer says:

        Agenda 21. The Somerset Levels have probably been slated for re-wilding. Brussels and HMG are just implementing policy from the UN. The Eco-Fascists want the people who live there out to make way for ducks. Getting out of the EU is not the end of our problems.

  3. neilfutureboy says:

    The closure of European airspace following the Icelandic volcano was not because the volcano was causing danger but because the EU regulators had entirely misread the situation and imposed a ban despite there being no danger.

    While all had to have compensation because of that none of it came from the EU which was responsible. This is, of course, typical.

  4. silverminer says:

    In a free society, there is no need for regulations, on air travel or anything else. All parties to any transaction should be fully informed about the terms of the contract and what happens if things don’t go as planned. Compensation should only be due if it is written into a contract which has been freely entered into by all parties, or, if one or other of the parties is guilty of misrepresentation (fraud) which should be determined by the Courts.

    This is where the banks come unstuck, Roger, seeing as you mention them. Their entire business model is based on defrauding an uninformed public who think they are being lent money that represents someone else’s savings. What they are actually doing is creating digital money when you sign your loan agreement, based on your promise to pay, and you pay them back, with currency earned through your labour, plus interest. You are paying interest on nothing (this is the fraudulent part)! A loan agreement with a bank, under a fractional reserve system, is a fraudulent unilateral contract and actually unenforceable if want to take it that far and you get an honest Judge (chances are slim). The bank gives no consideration to the transaction which is a fundamental element for a lawful contract to exist.

    When you say of the banks “we need them, and we’d be in bad shape without them”, I’d respond by saying that we’re in bad shape with them! What we need are honest entities to act as custodians for currency in return for fees which don’t put the currency at risk (banks don’t fulfill this function, depositors are unsecured creditors of the banks). We also need credit intermediaries who put savers (with currency which already exists) in touch with borrowers and the best model for this is peer to peer lenders (like Zopa) plus credit unions and building societies for mortgages. We also need entities to invest capital to fund businesses and we have the venture capital industry and hedge funds for this kind of activity, plus small local banks, lending actually currency deposited by savers for the small business sector.

    What we do not need is huge fraudulent, multinational entities sucking us dry with interest on nothing, leveraging the economy to high heaven in a fractional reserve Ponzi scheme and blackmailing us into bailing them out when they mess up. It will all collapse in the end but how long are those in office going to allow the people to suffer unnecessarily when we could end all this and move to system based on nation credit (Bradbury Pound) and full reserve banking? To date, I’ve only heard Godfrey Bloom speak out on the issue of the fractional reserve fraud. Ask yourself why Henry Ford said “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning”.

    It’s time the People did understand and we need leaders who are going to stand up to the banking Elites. We can’t keep dodging this issue for ever. As Lord Acton said “The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks”. Pick a side.

  5. limogerry says:

    Half a league, half a league,
    Half a league onward,
    All in the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.
    “Forward, the Light Brigade!
    “Charge for the guns!” he said:
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

    Ok maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but this is a very thorny issue. Many aircrashes have been caused due to aircrews/maintenance staff hasty to meet schedules. Alternatively, delayed customers can at times incur very heavy personal/financial costs. You can buy flight cancellation insurance, perhaps flight delay insurance could be an addendum to that. A problem worth pondering, but I’m with Maureen. Where’s the indignant outcry about the engineered floods in Somerset?

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