December 7th, 2009

Caspian

An unfortunate derangement of news items.

Dear Gentleman on R4 explaining about why bankers must have bonuses,
I have heard this argument a 100 times before, that we must pay well or we will not get 'the best people'. I even understand what you mean. And yet still I am not convinced by your case.
You see, we all want the best people in every job. The best teachers, the best cooks, the best pilots, the best nurses, the best technicians and mechanics and bicycle repair men. We all feel better when we feel that our work is valued and appreciated. We work better.
And many of us out here -- many of us in your category of people 'who have to understand' -- are best people in our own way.
We're just not treated or rewarded like that. We work for employers who believe that the way to keep the best people is to fill them with terror that they must stick with this job, for there will be fewer and fewer opportunities should we leave it. We work for employers who believe that we must be monitored and supervised and weighed and measured and perpetually told to do better. Many of us work in the public sector.
The same public sector who are being required to make yet more efficiency gains (oh good, for the 30th consecutive year...) and whose pay will be kept low. The same public sector who are asked each year to do more and more in the same amount of time, to jump over ever higher hurdles and not to collapse. The same public sector that privately owned, capitalist newspapers love to depict as useless and ineffective and overpaid over and over again. The same public sector who regularly face the front lines of crime and violence and poverty and social disorder.
When mediaeval and early modern kings overspent, they expected the poor to make up the deficit. The aristocracy usually managed to dodge their share, or some of it, while the peasantry starved (go look at French fiscal policy in the 17th century for a really clear example of this).
We are still living in that world.
And, dear bankers, I don't care how hard you've worked and how innocent you are and how good you may be. Because we all work hard and we all do well. And we are all in this recession.
So, if you please, accept your share of the cuts. The rest of us have to.
This has been a broadcast on behalf of the socialist ex-public sector section of the marquisate.