Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Open your wallet before your gob

Before any of the self-appointed ‘moral guardians’ of the fourth estate heap more rubbish on the actions of desperate people trying to preserve a reasonable pension they should tell us exactly what they receive each year. [Note the non-use of ‘earn’ - pay attention Littlejohn at the back]. Some of these opinion formers are on vast sums, well in excess of lowly council workers. The Beeb and other broadcast media are not blameless either. Many of their presenters are on huge salaries. Their foreign correspondents (who generally earn every penny) report on strikes and demo's from Arab Spring trouble spots to general approval. The reaction in the UK is markedly different. To take strike action in the UK is portrayed as an anti-social activity akin to child beating and cruelty to animals. Balance? The status quo prevails and the rich and powerful go unchallenged.  
The hypocrisy and craven subservience to the status quo needs challenging. Following Steve Richard’s awful article in the Independent today, which seemingly was based on the people he met on a cruise he once went on, there was this splendid response online. There are alternatives. 
“So the UK cannot afford to give retired people a decent income? Other countries can. Lets take Germany as an example.The difference lies in political attitudes and awareness. Both countries are wealthy in global terms. The resources exist in both countries for people to have a decent retirement, and to have full employment if they chose to do so. 
 In the UK the dominant cultural attitude is that you 'live to work', once you cannot work you should not really live. The UK chooses not to employ a good proportion of its population. Young graduates....83 applying for every job, the unskilled languish hopelessly for generations on the dole, employers expect anyone over 55 to retire or they are the first to be made redundant. Yet the new way of thinking is that people should now work up to their 70's, but there is no mechanism to create this huge number of extra jobs.  The UK has an economy based on banking and capital locked in over inflated property prices. It is fundamentally dysfunctional. Private companies have been allowed to get away without providing for pensions, the public sector therefore is now to lower its employment standards to the lowest standards in the private sector. The private sector dismisses collective opinions of its workforce and unsustainability and short termism is the prevalent culture in management and the boardrooms.
In contrast, in  Germany people 'work to live'. Holidays are longer and  the atttude is that  you should retire as soon as possible, and start to live and travel, including cruises if thats your forte! Pensions are generous. Private sector employers have to provide a decent contribution to pensions, the public sector has to do likewise. The economy is based on making things, its industries are efficient, it operates a Keynesian economy where the state provides assistance to industry in many guises as well as having an effective social infrastructure funded by the state. Indeed the ruling conservative party (CDU and CSU) have enshrined in it's constitution that social welfare is to be protected...and that is the more monetarist right wing party of the coalition in Germany! Unions are considered to be an important asset in managing companies through mechanisms such as works councils.
The problem with UK journalists like yourself, is that they can never see outside of the neo-liberalist box. There are many different economic models other than that set up in the Thatcher and Reagan years, and then embedded by New Labour.  Other economic models exist where people and then leading fulfilled lives are considered to be the core of economic policy. There is no political debate in the UK merely tirades about personalities, bashing unions, immigrants and the dispossessed working class. Its time the UK and its press joined the real world and started to explore alternatives, look beyond little England and lets have some decent coverage of issues where comparisons are made with countries with better economic models.” 
Well said oldnic007! They do have some funny monickers on the web

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