time to strip the rich of their assets?

Statistics has a long and disreputable history outside science and mathematics.  The word is from the Greek meaning ‘numbers of the State’.  The first notable stats I know of concern the Athenian treasury – where the actual and claimed deposits were out by several decimal points (needless to say this was not an error of surplus).  The response of the Athenian Democracy was genocide; not of those with fingers in the till, but some poor sods elsewhere whose grain was considered more important than their lives.

The Greek treasury is empty again, though quite how empty we don’t know.  Accounts no longer tally or account, but hide.    This is true of performance management everywhere – and what ‘performances’ they are!  British crime statistics are considered as though they represent all crime, yet are only the tip of an iceberg (Steve Bennett‘s blog has all you need – http://thinbluelineuk.blogspot.com/).  The questions we need to get at concern why we have become so deceitful and have ‘scientised’ the deceit.  We need better explanations of actual behaviour, of theories-in-practice rather than what is espoused.

No amount of postmodern pisswitter is going to get to the truth.  In one sense the truth is already out there.  We know this is a rotten world and we should be doing better.  I think a WB Yeates poem hits the rub – the one which starts and ends with a beggar being lashed by a horseman.  Revolution has left all the same except who does the lashing.  Inherent in all social critique is that we can bureaucratise power through government and yet who do we mistrust more than politicians and bureaucrats?  They are standardly the vile creatures of our literature, from The Frogs to Dirty Harry.  Power cannot be trusted to look after itself.  All the communist experiments failed with a combination of the iron cage of bureaucracy and mad despotism.

There’s a need to understand our bureaucracies in terms of the real actions of such as scumbag politicians feeding at the trough and cleaning up on insider trading, down to lowly cops nodding and cuffing crime (approved by bosses in everything except a paper trail) and social workers doing anything but visit their clients.  And we have to understand that we bend to the same winds and are part of what is rotten in the State of Denmark.

In economics and finance, stuff like the Black-Scholes equation, Gaussian single and multiple copula and all kinds of chaos modelling would make any cop already pissed to despair on multivariate statistics weep.  Just as there can be a point in predictive policing, there could be one in market analysis.  Questions arise about what outcomes make the kind of point we want.  It’s easy enough to state some on policing – crime prevention, villains nicked, communities safeguarded … all hard to quantify.  I have used such criteria in EU bids (plus jobs created and safeguarded) and one uses a spreadsheet to produce the ‘outcomes’ as do the bureaucrats.  No one checks on the ground – and thank god for that as by the time you have battled the bureaucracy for the money (which may arrive two years late) and persuaded a couple of dozen staff to lie in the accounts (owing to perverse fractional funding), there is little energy left to actually do anything.  Add central accounts’ stealing half the money (via transfer pricing) and you can find yourself with none to pay for the work that needs doing.  The EU funds end up doing a fraction of the good they would if the money was handed over in full and on time.  But this is one of the only games in town so you have to play.  Projects that promise much really do little more than keep a few middle-class flunkies in work until the funds run out.

Finance is considered a cost in the value chain, a term that means a business must make money faster than it consumes costs.  One generally tries to reduce costs to a minimum, so how has finance become so bloated it now dwarfs the real economy, and how have top managers ‘managed’ to become such a massive cost?  Clues may lie in looking at the books of Porsche at the height of their market dominance through superb engineering – they were making more money from their currency hedging.

We talk of getting rid of (useless) backroom staff in business and policing.  What could be more backroom than finance?  Like many successful parasites, finance has learned to make its host feel it gets benefits.  It’s hard to turn down profits from ‘money making money’ – but in the end this is not essential work and a drain on real effort to building purpose.  We should be designing systems to get what needs doing gone as efficiently as possible.  Finance could only be a utility in such design.

In fact, we can’t even design police forces that operate effectively.  We choose instead to manage the appearance of doing so through statistics.  The question on bwanker bonuses is not if they are worth it – but whether we can afford finance other than as a utility at all.  I’m sure, from a scientific view point, that we can’t – it’s a tail wagging the dog.  This is now dawning on some who need reality to be a slap in the face from a wet fish – pensions down by 50% and more in the UK for some.  In Greece, maybe 50% are smashed to poverty – more if it goes tits-up.  We are much closer to this across Europe and the USA than most think.  And all this has happened in my lifetime as agricultural and manufacturing and service productivity has risen in powers of ten.

We know where the swag is and it’s time we took it into public control.  Designing this public control is the problem.  The ideological game played on us is ‘better the Devil you know’, demonising change as bringing something worse – this, of course, is also fair comment.  The deep question is why leadership is so bad almost everywhere under the corrupting forces of self-interest and power.  So how do we design the corruption out?  bill Braxton is inclined to the view that anti-corruption design had left the NewYork force cumbersome and inefficient.  Plato wrote seven books on the matter without letting his gaze slip from his own navel.

It’s clear that if we allow wealth to accumulate as we do now, the wealthy take political and economic control.  The claim is this is a meritocracy, almost as the best soccer players gravitate to the top clubs.  I don’t want to work to their ends.  Yet I know this is driven by my own interests.  Complex as this is, I don’t believe the choice is between herding cats and despotic power.  Even if Dominic Strauss Kahn can’t work out that young women shagging old men at parties are likely to be prostitutes, most of the rest of   us can!

I can baffle you with maths that predicts the past (really) but can’t predict the future it is part of in trading.  This is the stuff of invisible cloth and a language of pseudo science (‘fat tails’ and ‘decay’).  One theory after another (Laffer curves were a fairly recent example) is used to demonstrate corporate tax evasion is really are good thing (because governments are so useless); they are killed off in peer review, but remain co-opted into the ideology.  We need more direct meaning than such stuff can provide.  Why can we not afford public services when a tiny few are holding such a big bag of swag?  Why, with all the increases in productivity can we not afford much bigger social provision?  In the past, the vast majority of us worked the land.  This land now provides massively more food with a tiny fraction of workers.  How much work do we need to do to give all a healthy standard of living?  My guess as an economist is it isn’t much more than a 20 hour week over 20 years.  Set against these and further questions the financial services industry in no more than a massive fraud to redistribute our hard work instead of efficiently organising it.


John Yates Didn’t Do Anything

The ‘I’ in IPCC looks increasingly inconsequential.  An investigation into a decent enough, but highly overpaid cop who had already resigned has turned up no turnips.  The real questions go uninvestigated and concern a criminal justice system not fit for purpose, with too many chiefs (providing inadequate supervision) and not enough Indians.

Problems with our institutions are taking place in the malevolent influence of debt and those who have cornered power through it,  In all this, our language has collapsed.  Debt used to be about the obligation to repay reasonable amounts borrowed against reasonable ability to repay – now I’d need to write an article to begin to explain.  There’s one here – http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_592.pdf – but most can’t be bothered.  Good policing used to be about preventing crime and keeping the peace.  This too has gone the way of all verbosity,

What we need is Dirty Harry – but you can be sure we’d screw up and arm himwith a blunted pencil!  With democracy ripped off by some rich bastards we come up with IPCC investigations into trivia and what are really footling enquiries into the News of the Screws when we’ve been taken into wars we don’t want and don’t understand by utter chavs like Blair.

The awful reality is that nothing happened when Stevenson and Yates resigned and I suspect this is because they did remarkably nothing much because this is what life has come to be about – doing nothing much.  None of us contributed much to the mad, religious economics that lets a few rich trouser most of the spoils, and the “brilliant” CEOs and the rest all turn out not to have known anything about what’s been going on when some glimmer of truth crawls out from under the carpet,

There’s plenty of stuff that needs doing, but instead of being able to organise that we engage in mad rituals as surely as Easter Islanders building statues and destroying the wood needed for boat building.  I’m for sacking anyone ‘earning’ more than £80K a year and sending them on compulsory voluntary service overseas.  I suspect we wouldn’t miss them, just as the Met won’t miss Yates and Stephenson – not because they weren’t decent men but because they were and were just doing their bit.  The problem is that the gross injustice of the rich world has moved in on the solid values we expect and we have started to use all kinds of false justification for the vast salaries paid to the ‘gods’.

I think it’s time to get back to being ordinary – John Yates seemed a very ordinary man to me – and putting an end to celebrity through money.  Good leadership is valuable, but we’re pretending we can get it by paying for it – and this is a myth,  Someone at the IPCC should have stood up and stopped the investigation into the passing on of a cv in its tracks.  But why should we expect anyone to show some decency and determination when our ‘great leaders’ pray at the feet of the gods of the free-lunch economy in which debts larger than all we transact ‘produce’ what we ‘need’?  We’re in the hands of lunacy and need to be shocked out of it.  This is clear when we can’t stop kids being bullied at school but can investigate an instance of nothing that wouldn’t matter anyway.

Are Police In the UK Bent?

My over-riding feeling is we don’t have many bent cops – this despite knowing even in local dealings they can provide very shabby service and will lie to protect themselves at the expense of severe distress and unlawful conspiracy against victims.  The real problem is how to get the majority into a position to do the better job they want to do.  The constraints that have grown against this are probably typical of the work most of us do.  The biggest lies outside of our jobs in economic matters.

Whether you think police or other agencies are corrupt will largely depend on what happens in direct dealings with them and what you glean from ‘admass’ reporting, literature and any contact you have with more academic material.  I’m not aware of an objective reporting or body of knowledge to refer to as I might refer to books and papers on molecular biology.  There is academic work and in that you will find reference to a ‘rotten orchard’ and a lack of accountability.  This is not material I would regard as scientific, though I’ve seen some good arguments made.  Jack Regan and Dirty Harry figures were unknown in the reality of my police work, but dubious practices like those in Charlie Owen’s novels and his characters strike a chord.  I’m sure I worked ‘Horses Arse’, GMP’s missing ‘H; Division.  GF Newman wrote long ago, and is worth a retrospective.

The IPCC have just published a 36 page interim report on corruption – it;s on their website and converts to less than a side of A4 – once you strip away the undergraduate dissertation part it says little  and manages a few lies in the form of bureaucratic-speak. They aren’t up to the job and even say 87% of us think they should investigate police corruption – a classic of village idiot consultancy.  We would be unlikely to ask members of the public who should conduct hot fusion research and this area is as complex in its own way.  The public have as little idea on the requirements of major corruption enquiry as of the technologies of a tokomak (and I don’t know how to spell it).

The thing about corruption is that perpetrators can usually only practice if they can hide what they are doing, though there are counter-examples.  And who better at hiding evidence than police officers (bankers? accountants? lawyers? politicians? press?)  The Americans prided themselves on having no moles as we were being embarrassed by Philby, MacClean and Burgess, but in reality weren’t finding them.

My own view is we get off already off-kilter in trying to bring accountability in our public sector.  We are generally failed by our public enquiries, judge-led this and that and so on.  One tedious enquiry after another on Iraq hasn’t even really the full scale of the Blair-concocted horror – we can’t get past secrecy and closing ranks.  The Murdochs and others put up the standard CEO excuse recently – that what went on went on without their knowledge.  They never make this admission when taking bonus payments.

In a sense we have no right to dare ask for investigations into police corruption when there are no police investigations worth speaking of into much wider banking and other business-financial corruption.  It is quite likely that our privilege and selection systems prevent the kind of people we need to do ‘regulation’ having any access to the work, and there is much evidence around the world of a ‘political class’ of jobsworths dominating them.

We need fresh ideas and to take into account of such realities that the kind of bureaucratic structuring of organisations around corruption prevention as a focus will be a disaster – and that there are plenty of examples of this to learn lessons from.  Elected police commissioners seem a good idea until you look at the politicians we already get.  We’ve had them on police authorities with no good effect I’m aware of.  Most of us already hold politicians in much greater disapproval than our cops.

One big problem in the mess is getting proper investigation done and done under open challenge.  Judicial review is open only to the rich (with a few token counter-examples) and it is possible to think of (cheaper) expansions of this that could organise new forms of enquiry with high degrees of power to demand evidence and get to it before cover-up opportunities, and reversing normal credibility issues and police or other organisational players colluding.  Much ‘corruption; is not criminal, but comes about through poor cultures, supervision and so on.  I would guess this is the biggest problem in our police, but we shouldn’t have to guess on the extent of criminal corruption.  The figures should be listed in the police record of recorder crimes as a special appendix and cases of miscarriages of justice should be available, in full, for public scrutiny – the opposite is the general case.  The idea, of course, is for the question of whether our police are bent not to arise because we would have reason to know either way.

The general way to prevent corruption is to involve countervailing interests.  I would put forward Nico Bento as the paradigm case of our failure to do this with almost everyone involved duped or corrupt (who knows which in the absence of full public scrutiny?).  Welsh officers are on trial at the moment for a case dating to 1988 and I heard interview tapes being played the other day.  It now appears we throw away relevant evidence ‘as a matter of course’ in considerable haste. There is no reason in this digital age, and this hardly helps us believe our CJS wants to come clean..


Met Police Arrest Woman To Keep Her Quiet

Brookes – the red hair at the centre of the trivial phone hacking scandal threatening to rid us of the Dirty Digger – has been nicked by appointment ahead of her appearance in front of the select committee.  She will now plead the 5th on Tuesday, sparing the blushes of the rotten core of duck eggs in charge of the Met.  Rather than being part of an enquiry that should already be conducted by an outside force, this ‘arrest’ looks more an opportunity to divert attention from smug Paul’s expensive collonic irrigation and an example of the common police practice of making sure everyone tells the same lies in evidence.

In the background to this we are being told that smug Paul and the bunch of dubious hospitality accepters he has gathered around himself are good cops and almost the only thing between us and Britain being taken over by the Taliban.  Much academic analysis has been done on the bull that comes out when cops are in trouble and the media misses it all.

We’re being had.  First of all, bimbos come in both sexes, but I’d name Brookes, Stephenson, Yates and the coverage as bimbo.  I fear for our safety with people like this in charge.  But then think of Keith Vaz and the bunch around him in committee.  Some odd jerk-bimbo reporter on Sky News is now claiming Broioke’s untimely arrest is cock-up rather than conspiracy.  The whole thing is conspiracy – a conspiracy of how we end up with a bunch of cock-ups running our politics and media.

These aren’t outstanding people, other than as rogues.  Brown was supposed to be incredibly apt at economics – but he’s the jerk who sold off our gold reserves just as China and India had started secretly buying up the stuff.  Brookes turned down the Parliamentary expenses leak. Vaz had to pay money back and is now doing the holier than thou.  Cameron and Brown were so bad Clegg looked better than them.  None of the cops was able to get the necessary work done on the phone hacking or bring about a ‘Ghost Squad’ investigation to nail the bent cops involved and bottom the Morgan murder and protect us from Rees and serious perversions of the course of justice.  What are any of these turkeys doing in office?

My working hypothesis is that ‘office’ is the problem.  It doesn’t attract the best and has means to ruin anyone holding it.  My MP is a grade one tosser and in the small sample I’ve been able to contact of people who needed help from their MP, nearly 80% concur.  In literature, almost all senior cops are presented as management turds like Mullet (Frost), but there is always a Dirty Harry getting the job done.  The truth is much worse than this – no Frost, no Dirty Harry but plenty of ‘detectives’ cuffing, TICing, getting nods and colluding with CPS on disclosure.  Trying to do things right, rather than just what is right in the bent culture, police, press, banks or politics is rarely much of a policy for even those ‘satisfied’ with low career grade.  We laud managers as ‘risk takers’ – yet tell the difference between a risk-taker and a moron.

The big risk would be getting rid of all the PR, HR and damage limitation bastards – but no manager does this.  Even the PM has now been found to have hired a scuzz – and he isn’t the first.  The problem is that spin is a wide institution – detectives and the CPS are spinning cases, and the poor sod having her life destroyed by anti-social crime is subject to spin from the cop writing her life off in ‘evil poor’ spin just as the bosses claim to have excellent partnership relations and has to watch Louise Casey pretending to care (or some other well paid drone).

A common academic model of police culture is more or less of cops who band together to hate the public (MOPs) and supervision by Mullets and end up in a strategy of keeping their heads low (doing as little as possible) or identifying a few jobs that are safe they can present to Mullet to gain her grace and favour.  All the cops in the Fiona Pilkington affair fit one or other side of this model.  They should all have been sacked – none of them had been able to stand up and get anything done.  These scum are ‘Gadget’s finest’, though of course she presents them as ‘heroes’.  This is the spin and a shame as the ‘evil poor’ and what they get away with needs outing for what it is – the kind of stuff that drove Fiona Pilkington to kill herself and her child and the ‘heroes’ not only failed to prevent but made worse.  The IPCC report never gets near the culture or the extent of the victimisation and totally fails to link the case to many more around the country.

Where is the independent enquiry into cops taking money from News International and scuzz journalism generally?  You’d think they’d want to blazen this across the force to warn people off and find some scapegoats – is it so serious the Met are more interested in hiding it all.  We need our cops serving the Pilkington families of our country, not feeding sleaze to crap newspapers or swanning about in Gold commands that get innocent Brazilians shot 9 times after a decent cop had hold of them, or being wined, dined and irrigated by sleazy money – not my first choice for action against terrorism or an ‘Untouchables’ image (though the Ness we know is a lie).

The latest organisation I’ve noticed puffing itself up with dubious research and performance management is the IPCC.  All this happened on their watch and they seem to have been entirely ignorant.  This is an organisation, along with ACPO and PSDs across all forces, that should be abolished – they don’t work.  The resources could go into a publicly accountable body to actually progress complaints on service performance, capable of of investigating performance from a wider perspective than individual complaints.

Most of the people who get caught out in this current mess will think themselves hard done by – believing they were just doing what needs doing in a corrupt culture around them.  Sadly, I think this is about all we will get, and given so many buy the ScrewsNews equivalents, all we deserve.



What’s the difference between ‘jobsworth’ and ‘corrupt’?

Ambush Predator made the interesting point that ‘jobsworth’ has almost replaced ‘brave’ as a kind of public sector ideal these days.  The newspapers are full of stories about emergency services’ people hanging around while people die for all kinds of dire ‘reasons’.  No doubt much that is good goes unreported too, though this is much less likely in these PR days.  My own view tends towards the idea that we are just seeing the tip of an iceberg and we aren’t linking the sightings very well – it’s not bad apples, but a rotten orchard kind of thing.

Most cops I’ve got to know since I left the job (long ago) don’t think there is much corruption in the UK.  They tell me they just never see any.  In my old days, we thought there was none in uniform, but probably was in CID and plain clothes (uniform officers in plain clothes).  I did work with a bent uniform cop – he was a burglar.  It struck me when I was a cop and now that anyone bent would be unlikely to tell me they were.  I’ve worked under-cover and it is very difficult to get in to even minor networks unless you have rather special resources and a lot of time.  The bent bastards, by their very nature, are a kind of secret society.

The “professionals” involved in the Baby P saga should be named, shamed and treated like criminals.  Those cops found guilty of corruption should be treated in the same manner.  So should our bankers and Enron merchants.  I doubt more than the Telegraph’s  ‘Saints List’ of our MPs and Peers should have survived into this Parliament.  We should be coming down hard on the jobsworth and corrupt – instead we still come down hard on whistle-blowers.

It’s very hard to tell the difference between a good cop and a bent cop at times.  Good cops have to break rules on informants to get information, but others are bent and really get used by certain types of informants.  I imagine even social work can have its ‘Dirty Harry‘ form – nursing certainly does.  I slept with someone once to get closer to an enquiry.  It was no big deal (no doubt what she says!).  I knew I was taking chances, in much the same way I had going into burning buildings before the fire brigade turned up and so on.  I was as likely to change a spare wheel for a nun as the infamous Norwegian tourist with big tits – more likely to be honest, even though I’m atheist.

Cops who think there is little corruption probably don’t work where the loose money is.  Whilst practised in ‘hard talk’, they are probably virgins who don’t notice what is going on around them.  It took Dutch police to unearth very high level corruption in the Liverpool drugs scene and a lot of undercover work to pull out the pathetic bent cops in the Colin Gunn case.  You have to remember in this that cops decide what gets investigated and often put forward diversionary cases they know will come up smelling of roses.  Across the public sector, we need new approaches to investigating corruption, but also the wider incompetence form of jobsworthiness and its role in promotion and supervision.

In the UK, we have a habit of allowing the bet to supervise and investigate themselves – the City being the most obvious.  We  also make corruption investigations very hard by not allowing wire-taps and modern IT-based equivalents.  Even where there is hard evidence, it is unlikely that an ordinary member of the public can get a fair investigation – we lack modern and sophisticated understandings of public scrutiny.  The junk statistics on crime are a classic example.  Crime rates have been falling forever, as the police force gets bigger and bigger, with no one really believing any of it.  If we had independent projects running alongside a few random police dealings, we’d soon see they cuff the majority of crime and dissuade people from reporting it through jobsworthiness tactics that make people think it isn’t worth it.  Burglaries have been coming down forever, but not my home contents insurance – burglary being the only claims I have ever made.  You should get the reasoning.  There are places to look other than police statistics.  I joined just at the time shop burglaries were coming down like falling off a cliff.  I was not personally responsible – alarms were making the difference and we saw an increase in ‘burglary dwelling’ – the villains just move their activities, and this is what they are doing now.

The jobsworth ACPOs do get bonuses and are on massively inflated salaries – so how close is this to corruption – indeed are they more corrupt than someone with fingers-in-pies old-style who does actually nick some bastards as a result?  For “ACPOs” you can read all kinds of people across sectors, such as Vice Chancellors, Town Clerks and so on.  This isn’t a police matter, it’s ripping the fabric of our society – indeed it may now even be stealing this and taking it abroad – the villas in Spain etc. (mine is far away from such loutish intrusions).

The key issue for me is the way we never really get open enquiry into our public sector.  A few posts back I mentioned that California created a prison empire that costs it 11% of State expenditure and has not improved its crime problems.  Prison officers and prison builders did very nicely, thank you.  My guess on the UK is that we have a massive CJS feeding a lot of people very well, but which hardly catches anyone other than the desperate crime palookas who give themselves up every so often.  I know I can’t have a fag in the pub, can drink the far more dangerous alcohol but not draw on some hash and that even willing cops can’t do much about crime inspired because of illegal drugs, and that I see (in passing) roulette games on television quoting the odds wrong, bullshit selling techniques all over that rip-off grannies and all kinds of crime nothing gets done about.  My MP should be investigated, but he won’t be.  They will keep on intermittently nicking very ill, very sad bastards and doing nothing for them, and nothing for the areas they are dumped in.  This is corrupt.  Who keeps making the money from it?

I’d shoot a lot of our low-life criminals in much the same way as I’d put down a rabid dog or a faithful old hound in pain.  This kind of ‘social cleansing’ has been practised more than virgin liberal prudes can admit to themselves.  The Nazis, incidentally,  are only one example amongst many, from the unlovely Athenian Democracy, through Moses (Numbers 31) and god knows how many more from the Balkans to the Baltic and all  over.  You may wimp out at the ‘cull’ – yet would you if your pretty 14 year old daughter was about to be introduced to drugs (easier than you think) and become a slag-hag by 20?  We probably don’t want to licence any State with such a ‘cull’ – but we need some thinking about it as a thought experiment that at least  considers how victims feel.  Police are often so crap victims would be better off killing the vile crooks and doing the time.  Ghastly outfits like JUSTICE, Liberty-wankerdee and Human Rights Watch make  things worse by focusing on to middle class concerns.  They can afford not to want to kill the scum, always making sure they never have to live anywhere near it – or so they think until one of their kids is smacked and coked up and nasty drug dealers have them re-mortgaging.  I wouldn’t really advocate killing; yet we need something to stop the roundabout of jobsworth-corruption.  The point is that there is a solution.  We might have to kill a million people, maybe two million.  If the problem is this serious, then what should we be doing about it and why aren’t we?  Where are the real employment schemes for not very bright, not very skilled people; what are we doing to stop the next lot of kids moving into the crime networks … and who do we dump these problems on because we can’t build enough prisons or grasp the Rwandan nettle?  Liberals, of course, could always save the day by taking in scum families and removing the burden put on disabled and poor people.  Just see them pigs fly!


tells the story of a bent cop who evaded PV.  The burglar cop who was my colleague had CRO for burglary.  The same mistakes being made today were around me 30 years ago.  Nothing gets learned except how to keep conning the public.

If you want real corruption, nip to Nigeria – http://www.vanguardngr.com/2010/11/jackson-soyinka-condemn-corruption-in-nigeria/ – but notice Paul Boatang in the story and wonder what he has done in the UK.  The UK and USA  don’t take the lead – http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/10/26/what-a-rotten-world-it-can-be-report-says-three-fourths-of-world-is-corrupt/ – and we may have to face up to learning from other countries.

An awful lot of liberals get paid to keep the system much as it is, failing and stocked out with liberals telling us it ain’t.  Cops are even pretending to be hard-liners, whilst actually  going along like pussies eating at the establishment zoo, too scared to blow the whistle, bottling it as soon as their mortgage is under threat.  These are the same people we are supposed to see as virtuous when they give evidence!