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Letters Politics in Kurdistan It is true that the president of the Kurdistan region, Masoud Barzani, is in office beyond the mandate originally agreed to by all parties, but this is primarily because of a constitutional disagreement (“Dream on hold”, July 9th). Mr Barzani heads the Kurdistan Democratic Party and it wants popular elections to determine who should be president. There is some background to this. In June 2005 Mr Barzani was elected president by the Kurdish parliament for the first time. A faction within the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which later formed a new party, Goran, demanded that the president should be directly elected by the people, which is what happened in 2009. Mr Barzani received 70% of the vote in a direct election. Four years later, his mandate was extended for another two years by a majority vote in Kurdistan’s parliament. Subsequently, political deadlock has developed, but your readers were not told why. The Kurdistan region had drafted and agreed on, but not issued or ratified, its constitution. Therefore its draft constitution is not in force. The draft envisaged a presidential, French-style system, under which the position of president would constitutionally be limited to two terms. But in 2013, the very same faction that had previously demanded popular elections to elect the president came up with a new demand: the president should be elected by the parliament. Goran blocked the ratification of the constitution and has prevented the draft, previously the subject of an all-party agreement, from being sent to the public for ratification. As such, Mr Barzani has remained president until the constitutional deadlock can be resolved. Given that the Kurdistan region is at war with Islamic State, providing the boots on the ground for the coalition effort, it is the view of many if not most in Kurdistan that the president, as commander-in-chief of the Pesh-

The Economist July 23rd 2016 merga, is providing much needed stability. SAFEEN DIZAYEE Spokesperson of the Kurdistan Regional Government Erbil Points make prizes The Economist argues that an immigration points system is wrong for Britain (“What’s the point?”, July 9th). Our current immigration system turns away deserving applicants while waving in anyone from the EU. A points system would treat all applicants fairly. In 2015, a big chunk of our net migration came from the EU, even though the EU has only 7% of the world’s population. This imbalance arises because we reject vast numbers of deserving immigrants. If you’re an Australian, merely having a British spouse won’t get you in, and if you’re an Indian, a PhD and a job offer won’t help you. Even those who qualify for settlement are rejected on technicalities, since the application system is almost impossible to pass through without expensive legal help. The question is not whether immigration is good or bad; it is whether we can improve our immigration policy. We cannot do so if we subscribe to the EU’s principle of freedom of movement. NICOLAS GROFFMAN Head of International Harrison Clark Rickerbys Cheltenham, Gloucestershire Bagehot stated that in Britain, political upheavals “are as uncommon…as tornadoes” (June 25th). He may be surprised to learn that Britain experiences more tornadoes per square mile than anywhere else in the world. DAVID HASSON Edinburgh Wage restraints Regarding executive pay (“Neither rigged nor fair”, June 25th) what harm would come from limiting the pay of chief executives to, say, 40 times that of the average worker? Do we honestly think there would be

a tragic exodus of managerial talent? Such limits would help restore workers’ faith in the economic system, which, as Joseph Stiglitz argued in “The Price of Inequality”, would increase productivity. A ratio linked to workers’ pay would also help bosses understand, and even increase, the pay of the rank and file. PETER COLBY San Francisco Executive salary is a classic agency problem for which there is a simple regulatory fix. Mandatory shareholding for chief executives would force their personal interests to align with the companies they head. Require them to buy shares amounting to several times their total remuneration for the year and hold them for ten years. Those CEOs who really add value will have nothing to worry about. The others will lose their shirts. SABESH SHIVASABESAN Pretoria, South Africa We are barraged by the left about the unconscionable salaries of chief executives. The average pay of top athletes, pop stars and actors is higher, yet none of them contributes to the jobs, salaries, investment and returns to average investors the same way that a CEO does. SCOTT PROCTOR Livonia, New York

produce a quite different result and it is important for the reader to be aware of this.” DAVID SCOTT Loughborough, Leicestershire Active or passive? It depends on where you wish to place emphasis, on the actor (subject) or the one acted upon (object). An active verb can convey a powerful message. The most perfect sentence ever written is “Jesus wept.” One subject and one active verb conveying intense emotion. Now the case for the passive side. Isaiah’s mighty prophecy: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder.” And what editor would dare touch this: “We hold these truths to be selfevident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.” The defence rests. Or the case has been made by the defence. JIM RHODES Norfolk, Virginia Magic Middle Kingdom

Passive attack Johnson (July 2nd) is right that the passive voice is widely used in science. It gives the false impression of objectivity. “The addition of X caused the mixture to ignite” sounds so much better than “When I added X to the mixture it blew up.” As an undergraduate I was marked down for writing in the first person. But a Nobel laureate speaking to the chemistry society told us, “It’s so important to write up experimental data in the first person, because it is you that has carried it out. Using the passive voice implies a level of objectivity that is simply untrue; someone else doing the same experiment may well

“Lord of the Jungle” (June 18th) dwelt on the negatives for Shanghai Disneyland. Instead, we should take the long view and dare to dream that now that the Cheesecake Factory and Disneyland have landed in China, can democracy be far behind? W.L. CHANG Hong Kong 7 Letters are welcome and should be addressed to the Editor at The Economist, 25 St James’s Street, London sw1A 1hg E-mail: letters@economist.com More letters are available at: Economist.com/letters

The Economist USA Julio 23  

The Economist USA Julio 23

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