Friday, 18 February 2011


Happily I was never bullied at school, nor did I bully anyone else, so I'm not really sure of the techniques. However, I suspect that if you can't bully the biggest boys you turn your attention to the lesser fry. That is exactly what the government is now doing twice over.

In the first place it is continuing Labour's failure to tackle the tax evaders and avoiders and instead focusing attention on the benefits recipients and the unemployed at the bottom of the pile. Way back in the early 80s a Tory (sic)MP protested that forcing people relentlessly to apply for jobs when there aren't any is like making people play bagatelle on a board with no holes. (Note to younger readers: bagatelle is a non mechanical precursor of pinball)

Secondly, having failed to make any significant dent in the bankers' bonuses, which amount to millions, the government has turned its attention to local authority chief executives who may earn over what is by comparison a paltry £200,000 a year. Reducing such salaries, although they are enormous by any normal standards, will not of course make any significant difference to the public sector deficit. The move is an example of petty vindictiveness and the Tories' ideological assault on the public sector whilst cosying up to the private sector. Liberal Democrats should be ashamed to be associated with it.

On the general matter of wage differentials, the national minimum wage is at present £5.39 per hour. For a 40 hour week that's £237.20, or £12,334.40 per year. Applying the x20 multiplier which David Cameron suggested for public sector wages, no one in the public sector should get more that £245,000 a year (and very few do). In my view a multiplier of x10 would be quite sufficient to reward talent, training, effort and enterprise (Plato thought x4 was enough) and this should apply to both public and private sectors. Any earnings above £123,000 a year should be taxed to the hilt. If greedy people don't like it they can go somewhere else and the rest of us can enjoy the benefits(as demonstrated by Wilkinson and Pickett) of the more egalitarian society which would result.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely right Peter. I would add that, unfortunately both major parties (assisted by the Lib Dems and the tabloid media)have cultivated a culture of envy in our society. Anyone and everyone is a potential subject for this envy. At one extreme perhaps are the bankers and tax evaders but because, so far as politicians are concerned, these groups are 'untouchable'others are brought into the equation: the lazy, overpaid civil servants or leaders of public organisations, those like myself who are the recipients of final salary pensions, and at the bottom the so called benefit cheats and the like. These lesser mortals are easy targets to 'bash' and have no real voice with which to reply. Politicians of all persuasions will not meaningfully 'attack' the bankers or tax evaders - after all these are the very people who will provide the politicians with comfy directorships when they finally give up 'politicking'! Why bite the hand that will eventually feed you?