I really don’t like the BBC sometimes. I find myself thinking that on occasion and then hating myself for it because it has, in the past, been an employer, educator and bastion of all I hold dear about our society. It is such an important institution to us that we have a special tax that the people who use it pay… are meant to pay in order to use the service. I am also not naive enough to think that the entire BBC is there for my benefit. I understand the need to have Casualty and Eastenders as long as they keep bringing me programs like Doctor Who and The Fades. On occasion, however, I find myself appalled at some of the journalism. I think this mostly stems from the 24 hour news culture that aunty now has to adhere to. I found this with the recent coverage of the public-sector workers strike this week. Days before the strike actually happened we had reports from airports and train stations about possible disruptions in transport. I do feel that certain correspondents have taken it upon themselves to form an opinion on a subject before it has happened just so they can do a piece to camera and take up a few minutes air time. My problem with this is that I don’t believe that opinion and speculation are news and, until the event has actually occurred or is in fact occurring, we won’t see any actual, proper news at all. After all, news is meant to be the reporting of facts isn’t it? It’s not fair to just blame the BBC for this because every news institution around the world seems to do the same thing to some extent. Worse seem to be the 24 hour stations because they have a lot of air time to fill with not much content. I will leave that thought there since this is not what I really wanted to talk about today but really what I wanted to lead in to the article with.
One of the things that has cropped up a lot in the strike coverage is a phrase that I have never been to comfortable with. It’s appears to be a thought that is bandied around by one of two groups of people
- Racists and the dispossessed. Generally, people who have heard the phrase before and are aggrieved that they are not getting something they perceive others are getting.
- Politicians and heads of large businesses who have reached the top of their game but have most likely got there because of connections with the right people.
The phrase is a simple one and, on the surface of it, perfectly acceptable.
“The world doesn’t owe you a living!”
This is a phrase that worries me greatly. I think it was meant to portray and mind-set that’s saying:
“We’ve got what we have because we have worked for it and you should too.”
It appears, to my mind at least, a platitude to explain why we’re cutting things. I’ve seen it used in the context of ‘British Jobs for British Workers’ banners. Most recently, I saw it on Question Time (back to the BBC but no sniping because I really do love the institution). The problem is, the world does owe you a living, more importantly, the world owes you the living that you have worked for.
The point of it’s most recent use on QT was in context with the strikes and saying that yes, there would be cuts but your not owed the money we are now not going to pay you. The problem is,in this case they are. It’s not the people high up in the public sector that will suffer over this range of cuts, it is those who are much lower down the food chain. Like dinner ladies (did you see what I did there?). What we need to be doing as a country is cutting the gap in spending power between the rich and the poor. I know re-distribution of wealth seems like a very communist (or perhaps socialist) attitude to take but it really is the best way to turn our economy around. I can do nothing but blame the politicians for the recent money troubles of the country. It’s all very well saying that there is a global crisis in banking at the moment, and we aren’t an isolated case by any stretch of the imagination, but we were in a similar financial state to France and Germany and we should have expected to be on equil footings with them in this recent ‘crisis’. Once again though, it appears that the politicians are not paying attention to basic economics. If you have people in your country who are earning a decent wage, the amount of money they can spend increases and the amount of tax that the government is given increases as well. Instead of trying to do this, looking after the little people, we have forced money towards the banking sector because there still seems to be some belief that they know how to solve the problem. But the banks are greedy. How much money did we need to throw at them until they started giving small businesses loans again? And it’s the small businesses that really are the backbone of the economy (and will do more to pull us out of recession in the long run). If we had put more money in to small business growth there is every possibility that we wouldn’t need the banking sector and could ignore their threats about them leaving for pastures new every time some sort of reform is mentioned.
So, the world does owe YOU a living because doing so it will benefit our government as well. You’ll have to pay tax after all and you’ll probably spend the money you get from that living, which is also taxed through VAT. The one proviso to all of this is that once you have that living, you’ll have to work hard at whatever it is you’re doing to get it. That’s not a bad trade off really. We all do the same thing.
I really do think that if we went in to these sort of debates with the attitude of “you are owed a living” we could very possibly come out of them with some very interesting insights. Instead of debating whether one group is getting paid more than another we could debate whether each group’s pay is suitable for the type of work they do. I wonder why we don’t hear as more about that? I suppose that it might be because we would suddenly start to hold a mirror up to the other side and ask if what they are getting paid is suitable. Lets face it, the last thing a politician would want is someone to hold a mirror up to them… or a news of the world.