Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Overpaid, Overpaid and Overpaid

So, the BBC's top ten of its highest paid 'talent' now includes three women - apparently we are meant to think that this is a 'good thing'.  I can't help but feel that the fact that the BBC seems to think that this somehow represents a blow for gender pay equality simply highlights just how completely out of touch with reality that media types are.  It is on a par with the way in which last year's annual revelations of top talent pay at the Beeb was spun as being some kind of debate about gender pay equality because, back then, there weren't any women in the top ten.  Which, of course, was entirely irrelevant - all that I saw was a lot of people being overpaid - their gender was neither here nor there. As with today's announcement, it is simply an attempt to divert attention away from the fact that there are a significant number of 'entertainers' out there being obscenely overpaid.  That, surely, should be the real debate here: how we value various professions in our society in terms of the way in which we reward them for their work.  Is it right, for instance, that someone who presents a radio programme is valued, in terms of pay, more than, say, a nurse, who saves lives and generally contributes to the well being of the community?  You might argue that the radio presenter reaches millions on a daily basis and that their presenting and entertainment skills enriches the lives of all of these people, contributing to their well-being and that the rarity of such skills justifies their wages.

More broadly, there needs to be a proper debate as to whether, at a time when food banks are proliferating and more people are slipping below the poverty line, that we can justify the huge pay packets of those at the top in any profession.  Because it isn't just broadcasting where people are being obscenely overpaid: banking, commerce, professional sports and a plethora of other occupations now seem to feature hordes of vastly overpaid individuals.  Can this be right while, simultaneously, ordinary employees are increasingly being forced into zero hours style contracts, effectively transforming them into casual workers, with all the uncertainty and lack of safeguards that entails?  While low wages, irregular work patterns and job insecurity become the norm for large segments of the workforce, can we really justify the continued payment of huge wages to a minority?  But that isn't the debate those who control the news want us to have, which is why the issue of 'top pay' is constantly reframed in other terms.  Except that many of us aren't fooled.  Moreover, when the economy inevitably takes a hit after Brexit and things start getting even worse for even more people, then it will become increasingly difficult to divert their attention from the huge disparity in wages between an elite at the top who keep getting rich regardless, and the vast majority, who just keep getting poorer.



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