Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Avarice

It is odd to recall that until only a comparatively few years ago, the question of pay was never controversial.
It is only fair to say that the rewards the business class, many of whom seem most unbusinesslike and whose competence in a crunch has left one wondering whether they should be considered fit and proper people to be charged with the high and severe task of tying their own shoelaces, have given itself in recent times are entirely the consequence of an intellectual fashion. Lost 24 billion quid? Oh, er, boss, no column for that on the spreadsheet. No metrics to measure that one; but of course we still have to be incentivised to keep performing to such a high standard.
As Peter Abelard quite rightly remarked, 'fashion is the badge of the pimp'; yet sooner or later, everything goes out of style. Such rewards are incapable of being justified on the basis of competence or achievement. They have been the naked avarice of greedy men; men who equate the talent required to create great works of art, or to be able to play a sport to a professional level, with the cutting of costs and the throwing of thousands out of work. This is not merely immoral by any standard; it is perverse, incapable of rational explanation. After all, while Michangelo might have been well paid to paint 'The Last Judgment', one does not really think he was not also praising God in the process.
This madness is enabled by the legal fiction that limited liability joint stock companies should be invested with the same rights as flesh and blood human beings. Although many of those who use these vehicles are very upright and moral people, at root limited liability companies are a scam; a legal fiction designed to enable those who incur debt in order to pursue their dreams of financial gain to escape the consequences of their actions while leaving others out of pocket.
The mark of all religions is their priests' willingness to tell their followers how much they owe their god; Christianity, and specifically Roman Catholicism, only differs from the others in being true. On the other hand, neoliberal economics consistently show itself to be bog standard, with its insistent desire on telling all and sundry how we'd all be living in caves, naked, ignorant, starving and scratching our private parts, unless Ugg gets paid 600 times more than Ogg and is empowered to sack him at will because he has duties to the shareholders (Ogg, of course, sits around all day long, lazy, feckless, idle and stupid, doing absolutely nothing which might enable Ugg to earn his wage packet).
And the insolvency of joint stock companies creates dilemmas which might have baffled Shakespeare - when Shylock sought his pound of flesh, would he have settled for three pence in the pound?
Kicking avarice out the system is never going to happen this side of, oh, The Last Judgment; some fallen beings seem to quite like being fallen, and seem heartily disinclined to pick themselves up again. It is very strange that many of those who proclaim the merits of freedom of choice here on Earth are so disinclined to exercise their divinely ordained freedom of choice in order to try to get into Heaven. Yet there must be a better way than this; one not founded in the rambings of an epic Tourettist from Kirkcaldy, nor cooked up by a very disappointed man who spent way too much time in the library.
Until we find it, we shall be their earthly slaves; or so they think. Possessing knowledge of the truth and the hope of salvation, our hearts are more free than theirs will ever be.

3 Comments:

Blogger James Higham said...

Excellent. Another one I'm going to have to steal and use later.

25 August, 2009 10:17  
Blogger PJMULVEY said...

Martin: The growth of oligarchies and the destruction of small businesses (and communities) lead to the rise of remuneration and profit disparities that are indicative an uneven economic playing field. The oligarchs are given unfair advantage by politicians who write laws in their favor to prevent competition. Monopolists by nature do not like competition since profits decline and more innovation is required to compete. More innovation requires investment in people and R&D and less to large salaries and profits.

25 August, 2009 17:49  
Blogger Martin said...

Thanks for the kind words, James.

Patrick, couldn't agree with you more.

26 August, 2009 05:00  

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