January 24, 2009

The level of the debate

Count yourselves lucky that you’re on the correct side of the Pond. It means that not only do you avoid having The Guardian as a major national newspaper, you also avoid living in a country whose politics is influenced by what is written in it. Polly Toynbee is the Grande Dame of a certain type of Statist left wingery (and whingery, to be honest): it often seems that in her perfect world everything would be done by Government and we’d be allowed a small allowance to buy a soda pop on the weekends. But only if we’d been good little citizens mind.

The problem is that she is, despite these odd views, influential. Despite her very odd indeed beliefs about how the world works. This is from her column of today.

The banking crisis is nowhere near over: tottering balance sheets hold 440% of UK GDP, with ?30 of debt for every ?1 of assets.

The assets of a bank are of course the loans that are to be paid back to them. She’s either got confused or, more worryingly, doesn’t know the difference, between a bank’s assets and a bank’s capital. What’s worse, the army of editors and sub editors that her piece must have passed through before getting printed also don’t seem to understand the error. Even after I’ve pointed it out to them.

I’m aware that varied leftish types have just taken power in the US but do look on the bright side. At least you’re not in a country where those who either read or write such alarmingly mistaken tripe in a national newspaper have any power.

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