Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Touting for Business

It's strange, the analogies people chose to employ. Take former Transport Minister Stephen Byers - when being canvassed by bogus lobbyists (actually investigative journalists) as to his availability as a parliamentary 'consultant', he described himself as being like 'a cab for hire'. A curious turn of phrase which implies that people climb inside him and he then overcharges them for taking them by the longest possible route to their destination, all the while regaling them with his opinions on immigration, the EU, the state of the economy and how it's political correctness gone mad that they let those darkies drive cabs now. Which is probably not quite what he had in mind. A more accurate analogy that he could of made would have been to describe himself a prostitute touting for business on a Soho street corner. Of course, if he'd described himself that way, he would have run the risk of being propositioned by half the parliamentary Conservative party.

Whilst half the media and sundry opposition politicians are running around wringing their hands, and proclaiming that this latest cash for questions-type 'scandal' demonstrates how sleazy and untrustworthy our politicians have become, the reality is that it is simply another manifestation of the avaricious society we have become. MPs thinking that they have a right to supplement their salaries by moonlighting as 'consultants' or 'advisers' to lobbyists, exchanging their 'expertise' and 'influence' for cash, is no different than bankers expecting mega bonuses for just doing their jobs (or not doing them, as the case may be). The notion that we should be rewarded for our labour with a reasonable wage has gone out of the window over the past three decades. Nowadays employers want to pay you the bare minimum and then hold out the prospect of 'performance related bonuses' if you actually do your job. I preferred the old system of 'performance related' pay - you got a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and if you didn't do the job properly, you were sacked. At the other end of the scale, you have the notion that in order to attract the 'best' people to jobs in, say, banking, you have to offer over-inflated wages, and to keep them there you have to give them obscenely large bonuses every year. Madness. Sheer madness.

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