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Professor Northcott’s article on state usury

02 May 2014


From Mr Robert Ashdown
Sir, - The Germans have the same word for sin as for debt. Some are influenced by this to think "Sin is bad; therefore debt is bad." I know little about ethics, but I do know about double-entry book-keeping, invented by the Italian friar Pacioli 520 years ago: for every debit there is a credit, and for every asset there is a liability, but that liability will be someone else's asset.

The Revd Professor Michael Northcott (Comment, 25 April) writes that "debt-based money is fictionally entered into the asset side of a bank's balance sheet." If this is true, then what is entered onto the liability side of that balance sheet (for otherwise the balance sheet would not balance), and who is the matching owner of that liability? If he starts to answer that question, he may find that much of his argument falls to pieces.

He talks further about "intergenerational injustice". I calculate that we are all still paying about 30p each per year to the cost of fighting the Seven Years' War that finished in 1763. Inconvenient, perhaps; unjust, not for me.

75 Brookville Road
London SW6 7BH

From the Revd Teresa Boyland
Sir, - The Revd Professor Michael Northcott is quite wrong to state that the universal state pension and pension arrangements for public service employees were not backed by investment.

Both the Education Service, in which I was employed before ordination, and the Civil Service, for which my husband worked for 42 years, had contributions from our salaries monthly for the whole of our working lives. Also, state pensions come not out of income tax, as Professor Northcott claims, but from National Insurance contributions, paid on a PAYE basis.

62 Link Hay Orchard, South Chard
Chard TA20 2QS

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