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So, on the news this morning they were discussing the publication of the BBC expenses and salary information. Not seen any big rants on how much these people are being paid getting and how much "tax-payers money" they are spending, but it has got me thinking (well, ok this is more an amalgamation of lots of thoughts that have been running through my head recently).

OK, these people are getting paid silly amounts, but that's the way the system works. We do not have a system where people get paid fairly for the work they put in. Instead we have a market place, which means the price you get paid for your skills is subject to supply and demand and your own bartering skills. Net result, those who have power and influence get more money and those with money get more power and influence in an ever growing spiral. Those of us that don't have much of either are generally stuffed.

It's always struck me as bizarre that we live in a society were we pay people phenomenial amounts in the city to basically manipulate the system. City traders may be highly skilled individuals, but it seems a shame that these skills should be focused on working the system to increase the profit for the companies they represent rather than something that's actually useful to society. However, when it comes to the things that are fundamental to society, like food production, education, nursing, etc. The workers in these areas are generally accepted to be paid less then they are actually worth.

One thing that really worries me, is how it seems to prevent us from dealing with the real issues. In 2006, the Stern review was released bring the climate change issue to the front in order that we might actually do something about it. Nearly 3 years later, very little seems to have actually happened inspite of many discussions about how we could implement things like carbon trading, etc. However, very few inroads seem to have been made on any of these ideas. Why not? Because they don't suit big business, who are the people who hold the real power within our society. I'm fairly certain that there are many people working for these companies who would view climate change as an issue, but it's the will of the organisation rather than the individual that rules here and that will is almost entirely devoted to profit. Somewhat worrying when the IPCC suggest we need our emissions to peak by 2015, which means we've now wasted a third of the time we had to deal with these things.

In short, we live in a system where the needs of artificial constructs in the form of companies and organisations take priority over the needs of the people within them and rewards individuals based upon there power and influence instead of as a reflection of their own input into society and as a result encourages class inequality.

Solving a single manifestation of this is not going to make a huge difference to society as a whole. If you really have a problem with this consider the bigger issue rather than picking on individuals as we did with the MPs. They're just working the system in the way the capitalism encourages. If you remove one problem individual and their methods of manipulating the system, then another will come along and do something very similar, just in a different way.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
25th Jun, 2009 13:29 (UTC)
Yes! I agree well said. I am still looking for any way in which it can be fixed though. The whole system of vested interests looks bound up tight from here.
25th Jun, 2009 16:23 (UTC)
The whole system would need to be changed, but getting that through is never going to happen, so we're all doomed and going to drown when the sea level rises *cheery thought of the day*
25th Jun, 2009 16:29 (UTC)
But then the vested interest of the super-rich is going to be in killing the rest of us. On the other hand, we know how to make food out of potatoes and pigs, and they know how to make imaginary money out of other imaginary money.
(Deleted comment)
25th Jun, 2009 16:21 (UTC)

I somehow think Marx may have had a few valid points, even if Lenin et al had to go a spoil it all through their own corruption.
27th Jun, 2009 08:29 (UTC)
Any system which depends on humans not being in any way corrupt is useless for this world.
28th Jun, 2009 16:36 (UTC)
Like capitalism does you mean?
1st Jul, 2009 06:58 (UTC)
Greed isn't good
I think capitalism depends on humans' corruption. It is pretty much founded on the principle that humans are greedy and that can be manipulated to a good end.

I think that's where the phase 'Greed is good' comes from. It isn't good, but if we stopped being greedy we would need a new economic system.

But let's compare and contrast capitalism gone drastically wrong, say the current recession, with communism gone drastically wrong. I'll wait.
1st Jul, 2009 16:40 (UTC)
Re: Greed isn't good
It's not a comparison that can be made as there has never actually been a socialist society.
27th Jun, 2009 08:48 (UTC)
Evil Marx
Come to think of it, it was Marx who wanted religion to be illegal, not because he thought all religion was false, but because he thought it discouraged people from carrying out bloody revolutions.

(Curiously every communist movement has had the bloody revolution first, and then banned the religion afterwards. Presumably in case another bloody revolution was needed.)

Colour me thoroughly unconvinced on Marx being a good bloke misapplied.
28th Jun, 2009 16:52 (UTC)
Re: Evil Marx
As I understand it, Marx wasn't a proponent of revolution, but instead views socialism and then communism as a natural product of the collapse of capitalism.

As far as I see it you could never set up a socialist society through violent revolution as this naturally imposes a ruling class without a mandate from the people (as with the Bolsheviks). Modern Bolsheviks appear to be some of the most capitalist people around, all slotting in towards the top of the capital ladders.

The only way I could see society changing is through our current political systems.
1st Jul, 2009 07:02 (UTC)
Re: Evil Marx
I think you might want to do some reading on your hero. See for example Karl Marx on wikipedia as a starting point.

History definitely stands with you that if you create a government by violent revolution the government you get is violent.

Are you still planning to make religion illegal?
1st Jul, 2009 16:46 (UTC)
Re: Evil Marx
1st paragraph:

Marx summarized his approach to history and politics in the opening line of the first chapter of The Communist Manifesto (1848): “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Marx argued that capitalism, like previous socioeconomic systems, will produce internal tensions which will lead to its destruction.[2] Just as capitalism replaced feudalism, socialism will in its turn replace capitalism and lead to a stateless, classless society called pure communism which will emerge after a transitional period, the "dictatorship of the proletariat", a period sometimes referred to as the "workers state" or "workers' democracy" .

Which is exactly what I just said, i.e. Capitalism collapses and the natural thing to come out of the ashes is socialism.

The idea the capitalism can only be overthrown by revolutionism is Leninism.

I personally wouldn't make religion illegal only separate from the principles on which society is founded as belief is an individual thing and society is made up of a large number of people with different religious views. Agreeing with the general philosophy of someone doesn't necessarily make me agree with every point they've ever made.
27th Jun, 2009 08:43 (UTC)
Capitalism: not as black as it's painted
In theory at least the supply demand approach to wages has a number of very good effects:

1. If we don't have enough of X then the wages for X rise, so more people become an X, and vital jobs get done. Without coercion. See plumbers.

2. Unpleasant but necessary jobs get done because wages are raised until people are prepared to do it. This is a powerful force against your touted class enforcing.

There are places where the system breaks down, for example entertainment where uniqueness means competition doesn't work properly any more (I consider sport a form of entertainment. Except rugby obviously, which is a form of torture).

There has been something wrong with the city over the last few years, in it's execution, but not in it's purpose. The purpose of the city is to provide good governance to our companies, which are not really ruled by the good of the fictional entities you imagine, but by the good of shareholders, that is, the good of people with pensions. Most of capitalism is the relentless pursuit of people being able to retire without poverty.

I'm not convinced that food production, education and nursing are systematically underpaid. Teachers certainly aren't! Interestingly two of the three on that list aren't part of capitalism in this country, so I'm not very sure what it would prove even if they are under paid as you claim.
28th Jun, 2009 17:00 (UTC)
Re: Capitalism: not as black as it's painted
Everything is part of capitalism in this country, it's what our whole system of government is based on.

There isn't an equal provision of healthcare or education regardless of wealth. Partially because of the option to get better service if you are willing to pay for it and partially because we're generally unhappy to tax those that are better off to fund a reasonable service for those less well off.

Farmers are massively unpaid as the food market is pretty much controlled by a handful of large organisations (the supermarkets), who have so much control they can pretty much declare how much they want to pay for something like milk no matter what the production costs are.

Teaching is highly skilled occupation (or at least it certainly should be) and involves long hours (especially with the levels of bureaucracy imposed on it at the moment) and so should be one of the most highly paid jobs. Yet it doesn't get anything near other skilled industries like IT or banking for example.

Similarly for nursing.
1st Jul, 2009 07:07 (UTC)
Re: Capitalism: not as black as it's painted
We obviously have very different definitions of capitalism, which is going to stop our discussions making progress.

I think capitalism is an economic system, not a political system, and that you can have democratic capitalist states and totalitarian capitalist states. I prefer the former.

I think our system of government isn't capitalist because people are elected to government, they don't buy it.

I think the state sector isn't capitalist because it has no capital raising, shareholders, profit, or any of the other things I associate with capitalism.

Of course socialism is a philosophy with a wider net, and if you wanted to raise an opponent to it you might want it to be rather bigger than my capitalism, to have a political and social set of objectives as well as economic. I guess that's the angle you've come from.
1st Jul, 2009 16:33 (UTC)
Re: Capitalism: not as black as it's painted
The majority of our society is based around markets, even state controlled public service work on a principle of markets.

The education system for example is moving more towards a principle of schools selling themselves to pupils (and their parents). The currency is people rather than money in that case, but the principle is the same and it does effect the amount of money the school gains as a result.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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