BARD BY THE BEEB 21st January 2003
John Morrison (February) castigates the BBC for broadcasting only two Shakespeare plays in five years. Such bluster has the opposite effect from the one he hopes-it confirms the BBC’s determination to disassociate itself from the shibboleths of ageing white fogies. Morrison’s vision of a titanic struggle between The Merchant of Venice and EastEnders obscures the real issue-how good is contemporary drama on the BBC? How much does it challenge, inspire and educate its audience? If we wish to prove that standards have dropped, we should be analysing the merits and demerits of what is being written now, not harping on about the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Michel Faber Fearn, Ross-shire
KANT AND ATHEISM 27th January 2003
AC Grayling and Thomas Mautner are both confused about Kant’s atheism (Letters, January & February). Kant certainly thought the existence of God could be neither known, nor disproved. This radical suggestion may well have put him at odds with the authorities of both his university and native town. But, contra-Grayling, Kant makes it abundantly clear that faith in the existence of God is not optional but necessary in order to understand the claims of morality upon us. So Kant believed in God and thought it was a belief any rational being was required to hold, but also believed that it could not be known to be true or false. This is clearly not atheism, but a revolutionary departure from traditional theology nonetheless.
Tom Startup Wembley, Middlesex
TAX IN BRUSSELS 27th January 2003
Manneken Pis (February) says “EU commission officials… pay income tax of 15 per cent.” Would it were so. The tax on my commission pension is 20 per cent overall. Why? Rather than have a network of double tax agreements, in 1968 the commission, which needs to send people to work in every member state, found it simpler to exempt officials’ pay and pensions from national tax and instead have a stripped-down single system. It may be the only one in the world fully described on three sheets of A4-size paper. It has 14 steps, from 8 per cent marginal tax to 45 per cent, and almost no allowances.
Ted Rawes London W8
CLEAN FUELS 29th January 2003
Philip Ball’s article on clean cars (February) talked a lot about different types of engine but rather little about cleaner fuels. But both ethanol and biodiesel, produced from…