Remembering the business victims of 9/11

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Friday, September 9 2011

This weekend, we remember the business people, as well as the many brave victims from the emergency services, who perished in that history-changing World Trade Center (and Pentagon) terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.

We all know where we were at the time. I was in Lille Chamber of Commerce, in Northern France, discussing plans for a list of the most successful businesses in Nord-Pas de Calais, Brussels, Flanders and Kent.

 We were enjoying coffee when the first news came in. It was only later, riveted to the television screen, that we understood the full horror of what was unfolding. I often think of those investment experts and their staff gathered in a conference room on the 104th floor, and others lower down where the planes struck.

 An ordinary day in a routine business environment turned out to be their last. So much waste of talent and energy in the name of fanaticism, prejudice and evil.

 You never know when your number could be up - so value every day, however humdrum it may seem.


Just returned from France. Brilliant road system, underlining the importance of public investment in infrastructure. The CBI today calls on our Government to do the same. 58% of polled businesses rate the UK’s infrastructure worse than other EU countries, when judged on quality, value for money and reliability.  

The contrast between our roads and the French is startling. We need to catch up - and capital spending would create much-needed jobs.

I saw hardly any speed cameras in France and only a few radar warnings. It felt so liberating to be trusted to drive at the correct speed without Big Brother always casting a shadow over your every move.

And, amazingly, there was free parking at a station equidistant between Poitiers and Tours. Over here, it would have been crammed with commuter cars, with a parking firm raking in a fiver a time.

 And another thing. Everywhere is so quiet at lunchtime. Shops - even supermarkets - close for a decent lunch. Family-owned shops even shut for a two week holiday. How refreshing not to find so much of our lives dominated by money.

It is fashionable to rubbish the French  - but they teach us lessons about civilisation.



The French are about to tax the rich while we are talking about axing the 50p rate. It’s not a crucial issue. A more pressing tax concern  is the taxing of savings interest.

Since the Bank of England cut the base rate to the 300-year low of 0.5% two years ago, savers have lost out on £43bn. Borrowers have gained £51bn.

When everyone is encouraged to save, especially younger people saving for their first home, and older people having to survive on diminishing reserves, losing 20%  of your interest is punishment for good behaviour. I know there is the ISA but the maximum limits are relatively low.

The Government should raise the interest rate threshold at which tax becomes payable, or at least cut the rate savers are denied.

Savers have been penalised enough - it’s time to give them a break.



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Categories: Terrorism

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