Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Do MPs deserve a raise?

I dashed off two blogposts on Monday. One exploring my lack of inspiration and one on an independent Korean film I had watched the night before. As a consequence of my complaining that I had been having an uninspiring Summer ideas-wise, I have had a string of suggestions (two is a string, right?) that I feel I must respond to.

Esteemed author and biographer CD Rose contacted me on Twitter to suggest that I should find inspiration from watering his plants. I suspect that this may have little to do with inspiration, it may just be a gentle reminder that I offered to water his plants while he was away in Manchester (he knows that I am notoriously flaky in such matters - I was going to check on them today but ironically I didn't because it was raining - definitely tomorrow). Anyway, can everyone please click on the link above and download his latest short-story to your e-readers so I don't feel quite so guilty about murdering his plants? Thanks folks.

The second suggestion came from a local chef whom I shall call Strongtail. He collared me in the pub to ask what I thought about the recent ten-percent payrise MPs have awarded themselves. 

"I thought you could blog about that," he said. "I thought that would be right up your street."

"I dunno, Strongtail, I did a bit of politics around the Scottish and general elections. But its not a political blog."

"Do you think they deserve a 10% payrise?"

It is a complex issue and it is easy to see why people are indignant. The standard pay for a Member of Parliament is £67,060 Chefs and waiters would be hard pushed to earn that much in three years. Bartending on my current wage, it would take me over five and a half years to earn that much money. But this disparity is not what has annoyed Strongtail. From July MPs' pay is increasing to £74,000. This at a time when the Chancellor has announced that all public sector employees will be limited to a below inflation 1% payrise. What have the politicians done to deserve their massive raise?

Nothing.

It suits the wealthy that there is a link in popular perception between money and hard work. The poor know better than anyone that you have to work hard all the hours of the day to get enough money to enjoy a few luxuries after rent and bills are covered. Those luxuries - a few pints after work, a new pair of trainers, a summer holiday - are earned by those extra shifts worked at Xmas time, by walking to work instead of taking the bus, by being nice to that table of arsehats in the vague hope that they will tip. This link disappears as you move up the payscale. The wealthy have many luxuries and do not have to work at all. They set their money to work for them.

I am fond of Bertrand Russell's observation that there are only two jobs: moving matter round at or close to the surface of the earth and telling other people to do so. The people in the second category tend to get paid more. Those at the top (those who tell people to tell people to move matter around) are often in a position to choose how much they want to pay themselves.

Crazy upside-down world. 





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