PIERS Morgan was recently waxing lyrical about us being on some kind of “war footing” in the battle against coronavirus. He told us to “stop whining” and to make sacrifices. I’m wondering what the punishment was in war time for those profiteering out of human misery? I’m sure it would have been harsh, yet in our time of need this is exactly what some UK commercial banks are doing.

As people’s lives are literally being destroyed, the likes of Barclays Bank and HSBC have ramped up overdraft charges and refused to pass on the Bank of England interest rate cut to their customers.

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Why are we allowing ourselves to be held ransom by these institutions? Given the events of the last couple of weeks we should at least be starting to wake up to the considerable financial power of the state.

The fact is, the state can survive without the city but the city cannot survive without the state. The UK state central bank, the Bank of England, guarantees bank liquidity. The UK Treasury part-guarantees the deposits in the banking system. As we found out in 2008, the government underwrites the entire sector and it is the single biggest liability on the public balance sheet.

The financial establishment has abused the power gifted to it by successive UK governments and has proven only to be an economic burden, inflating asset and property bubbles and decimating disposable income by pumping huge amounts of credit into a “ponzi” mortgage market. Given the chance to self-regulate, the banks chose to maximise profits at the expense of society.

The usual justification for propping up these quasi-public organisations is that their failure, by design, would bring the economy down. So redesign the system! They’ve had their chance(s) and the regulators have proved to be every bit as culpable as the greedy bank directors.

Let’s nationalise the profits, not just the losses, or at least have a separate public payments system and guarantee all deposits so that they can’t hold us to ransom any longer. They can fold without taking us with them.

Scott Egner
via email

AS more and more companies are behaving abominably just now, why not have a list of companies to boycott, now and in the future? This could be added to whenever more cases arise. It should be displayed prominently.

Edith Davidson
via email

MICHAEL Fry’s assertion that “greed, once it freely runs its course, in the end evolves into virtue and happiness” must be one of the most outrageously wrong-headed statements he has uttered in his perpetual defence of free-market capitalism (What would Adam Smith have made of the UK’s splurge on coronavirus?, March 24). He does not back this statement up with any evidence of greed morphing into goodness and beneficence.

The 1% who own more than half of the world’s wealth show no signs of redistributing it to anyone else. Instead Michael employs one of Adam Smith’s most contentious claims about the rich unknowingly creating equality, which similarly was not supported by any evidence when it was written in 1759. As far as I can see, these declarations are wishful thinking dressed up as scientific rationality.

READ MORE: What would Adam Smith make of the UK’s Covid-19 splurge?

It has always struck me that the most zealous of free-market advocates, including Michael, are mirror-images of those they particularly scorn – Marxists. Karl Marx avowed that the iron laws of history would bring about the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and usher in an age of egalitarian socialism. Michael frequently refers to the “hidden hand” of capitalist relations which makes everything work out for the best.

How is Michael’s recourse to some supra-socio-economic law different from Marx’s metahistorical claims? Both require faith rather than rationality to underpin a mass of theory built on top of these unsubstantiated, quasi-religious claims.

Dr David White

IT was disappointing to read in Angus Cochrane’s article on Wednesday (Public invited to read lines from Scots declaration) that it seems that STV and the BBC are unlikely to broadcast a televised documentary to mark the 700th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath.

However, I was pleasantly surprised the same evening when I heard a 45-minute programme on BBC Radio 3 about the Declaration of Arbroath at 10pm.

The programme can still be heard on the BBC Radio website. I would encourage readers to listen to it.

Graham Sutherland

KEVIN McKenna, your clairvoyance in Wednesday’s article amazes me. On the same day in Westminster a Tory MP likened the black cabs in London to Spitfires in the Battle of Britain.

Ian Gilbert