Money, money, money

This morning my path crossed with that of Graham Norton; me with Baby-Bel in tow; him with two dogs (one big, one small) in tow and a miserable scowl etched on his (actually quite ageing off-screen) features – amazing what makeup, a camera crew and a baying sycophantic audience can do for one’s demeanour. It’s not that unusual to see Mr Norton doing his Starbucks run at ‘daytime TV’ time of day – as far as I’m aware, he doesn’t start his shift until the evening.

The thought that occurred to me though as he swept past was that in times like these, when all the media seems to harp on about is the issue of crucifying overpaid bankers and corresponding tactics for tackling bonus payouts (thereby putting paid to the free market mechanism in one foul sweep – back to feudalism then perhaps?), why there is not a similar angst targeted at other allegedly overpaid pockets of society, namely, TV personalities (and ‘celebrities’ of the loosest interpretation of the word), footballers (and any other sports people come to think of it), or (super)models being paid to pout.

At serious risk of sparking a backlash from WAGs of all calibres and sports genres, can there really be a justifiable argument for paying their better halves the equivalent of the GDP of a small nation for effectively kicking a ball about a large turf of grass? The majority of bonuses for a run-of-the-mill City-worker pale in comparison to the $20m a film star can command for donning the mask of a pretend persona. As for the modern day ‘celebrity’, drawing a regular and sometimes sizable salary courtesy of Hello! and Ok! for doing and being nothing notable, other than being notably more fame-starved than the average civilian and therefore willing to go that extra mile to air their not-always-clean laundry, don’t get me started.

Could it be that we side and sympathise with the other vastly overpaid, arguably underworked professions because their roles are simple to understand and, by definition, pose less of a threat? At the end of the day, how complicated is the process of kicking a ball; not that for a moment I’m suggesting that anyone could do it – I, for one, have the foot-eye coordination of a one-legged man in a kicking competition. Conversely, how many Average Joes understand the valuation of Credit Default Swaps (again, I, for one, don’t)? I suspect a certain amount of fearing the unfathomable is partly at play.

And is there an element of the aspirational when faced with financially successful people who, on the face of it, seem to be ‘just like us’ yet also like demi-gods, walking the earth with their mythical brilliance in their chosen field of expertise (or just their brilliant ordinariness)? After all, if someone as talentless and plain as celeb X can find fame and fortune, then it gives hope to the masses. Perhaps we too could be the lucky recipient of such prosperity.

I’m as guilty as the next gossip girl for indulging in a secret bout of Hello!-reading while at the hairdressers (I draw the line at buying my own copy). But in these contemporary times of celebrity worship, can we seriously condemn avarice in one social sect and condone equal, if not bigger, bucks for another at the opposite end of the professional spectrum?

My view on City bonuses is consistent with my view on the pay-packets of every other vocation the world over and it didn’t take an A level in Economics to deduct the basic concept of Demand and Supply – meddle with market forces at your peril.


One thought on “Money, money, money

  1. An A level in Economics should have provided you with some useful insights into the workings of financial systems and should certainly have made you aware that forces of supply and demand work imperfectly and with time lags in most markets. After all, were that not the case your recent employer could have acted much earlier on the premise that its organisational existence and profitability would not have been diminshed a jot if it had ceased to contract to employ you at a much earler time you for the inputs you provided to it?

    As for the grotesque earnings of celebrities, footballers and medja jerks, I would be the last to attempt to defend or justify them. But then, neither do I subscribe to them. I don’t go, don’t watch, don’t contribute, so they don’t take too much from my pocket. Nor do their spurious activities have much significant adverse financial impact on the rest of society & they do consume goods & services we sell to them, They also generate some significant level of employment.

    Bankers are quite different. They have destroyed, through their greed & recklessness on an immense scale, the collective ‘wealth’ of millions of individuals who did not have any opportunity to intervene to prevent their depredations. They may never have dealt with these bankers directly, may have had no accounts, nor shares, nor bonds in their organisations but that is very little consolation if their job has been lost, their pension evaporated, their mortgage increased or no longer available for house purchase, et. etc. Nor, of course, do these people have the luxory of the cushion you received in the form of your past bonuses added to a high salary .

    And the thing is, you still don’t get it, do you? You still feel rather sorry for yourself instead of recognising that you subscribed to and enjoyed the benefits of a culture that has caused misery to millions of decent, honest people. We all watched the pathetic token & half-hearted apologies of the Select Committee scapegoats, delivered with the sort of sincerity and concern for the consequences of their past actions that oozes from your blog.

    Having said all that, I do suspect that you have many talents and skills and will not find it too difficult to reinvent yourself, soon, in some rewarding form of career activity, alongside all the multitude of joys of motherhood. It would just be so nice to learn that you have actually learned something worthwhile from your recent experiences that might just influence your future attidues to the rest of society?

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