Ryeview – November 2006

Don’t be greedy

John Clark writes…

First published: November 2006 – Gazette & Herald

“Don’t be greedy” parents insist when little sticky fingers dive into the chocolate cake yet again. “There is only one cake. You have to share it.” This is the way the vast majority of parents bring up their children. These are the children that grow up to be the decent hard working adults that take their share, or less, of the income ‘cake’.

This is very bad training for the ‘Real World’; a world where those who have most get the biggest increase. Those who have least in possessions, income and power have least muscle to get an increase. Those who today have the biggest share of the cake decide on the number of crumbs for the rest.

It is not morally, socially or in any other way right for vast swathes of our society to loose out. These weak groups include children, pensioners, women and those on the minimum wage.

The Labour Government has made a good start with its reduction in Child Poverty. However, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in its latest research believes that on present progress there is no chance of delivering the target of no child poverty by 2020.

  • Pensioners have fallen behind by over £80 per week.
  • The women’s rate of pay in Ryedale averages £13,000 only two thirds of the men’s rate, £19,000. I suspect when casual ‘cash-in-hand’ and part-time are taken into account the difference is even bigger.
  • The minimum wage at £5 plus is £2 per hour short of a subsistence level.

We are told that the income of all of the above groups have to be kept down because otherwise as a nation; ‘we couldn’t afford’; there would be ‘high unemployment’; ‘inflation would take off’ etc. No, if we cannot afford then there would not be the money to pay people £100,000. They are of course only having five pieces of cake because they ‘need it’. The real ‘snouts in the trough’ are the Chief Executives of the Transnationals, Banks and Supermarkets. The Chief Executive Officer of Tesco receives £5 million plus. This is over four hundred times the average wage of a Tesco worker.

Over the last 12 months, the pay level for workers has increased by 3 or 4%. That of the Directors has rocketed by 30%; clearly not a gap of ten times but one of several hundred in numbers of pounds.

It wouldn’t be too bad if very high tax rates were applied to these obscene levels of ‘pay’. There is no logic in people trying to survive on a minimum wage while others only pay £800 tax on the £2,000 per hour they are paid. Earnings over £50,000 per year should be treated as ‘status’. For every £1 over £50,000, 60p could be paid in Tax. Over £100,000, 90p could be paid in Tax. This money could be used to increase pensions, remove child poverty, prescription charges etc – costs that hurt those of us on less than our slice of cake.

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