Pity in the City for Lehman victims

YES<br /><strong>JEREMY HAZLEHURST</strong><br />WHEN City workers lose their jobs, there will always be plenty of people who cheer. There is a perception out in the country that everybody who works in the Square Mile is an unscrupulous, greedy moneybags banker, spending their evenings wallowing in champagne and caviar. The truth is that most people who work for banks earn a decent wage, but are by no means rich. Schadenfreude is an unattractive trait at the best of time, when it is aimed towards people who are working hard just to pay the mortgage and the bills and a decent life, it&rsquo;s plain ugly.<br /><br />The people hit hardest in this recession have been the middle classes. The reason is simple: there are so many of them. These days every second person has a degree in accounting or law or computer software design. The British economy is based around these sorts of skills, and so when a downturn comes, they are the ones who lose their jobs.<br /><br />It is hard to shed too many tears for those at Lehman Brothers who took the risks (and the mega-wages), but the fact is that most of the people employed there were much lower down the food-chain. You can argue that losing your job is just a fact of life, part of the natural order, but that doesn&rsquo;t make the belt-tightening or the sacrifices any easier. We should feel sorry for those who lost their jobs in the Lehman debacle, and try to make sure that the chances of such collapses are minimised in the future. <br /><br />NO<br /><strong>ZOE STRIMPEL</strong><br />IT was bad luck to be a Lehman Brothers employee last September. The buck stopped with the bosses and they didn&rsquo;t get it right. Nor did all the other chiefs that got it wrong and failed their employees and many more.<br /><br />We&rsquo;ve heard all about what ex-Lehman&rsquo;s employees they&rsquo;re up to and what they think &ndash; from Natalia Rogoff, who worked in institutional sales and has now set up a pasta sauce business to the others who landed jobs at other banks.<br /><br />The collapse of Lehman brothers &ndash; at least in London &ndash; has seemed very far from a disaster for a lot of people. Around 3,000 people were re-employed by Nomura. Others were employed by administrators PWC to help wrap up proceedings<br /><br />There was much made of the hungry swooping by headhunters salivating at the thought of getting their hands on ex-Lehman employees. Then there are the pasta makers.<br /><br />But the bigger point here is that this is capitalism. Things that don&rsquo;t cut the mustard for whatever reason &ndash; especially in an under-regulated financial environment &ndash; fail. Those that work for banks are voting for the system that left them wondering what to do on 15 September.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s also the system that provides opportunities for them to get up and find other things to do with themselves, be it in banking somewhere else or in making the perfect pesto. It&rsquo;s sad they lost their jobs without having any choice in the matter. But it&rsquo;s not all that sad, and it&rsquo;s not all that interesting. Don&rsquo;t cry too many tears for Lehmanites.