Meeting on the ledge

(or why I don't get out much…..)

Gaps in society

According to last weekend’s Observer, pay gaps are widening in the UK. Business leaders are now earning on average 98 times the average salary; the ratio was less than 50:1 ten years ago. The average pay for top executives last year increased by 37% while the government are trying to keep the public sector to below 2%. Britain, even with a Labour government, is becoming a more unequal society.

What effects does this have? After a decline in the post-war years, disaffection is again increasing, with the less well off locked into the poverty trap, poor education and a lower life expectancy. In turn the rich race to display their wealth, with big houses in areas of our cities which have been made unaffordable to anyone else, exclusive cars and a lifestyle of conspicuous consumption. Society becomes more unsettled, with growing awareness of crime and a greater belief in punishment. People become more competitive, with self-worth becoming defined by money rather than more personal and altruistic values.

So its partly up to our politicians to sort this out. The UK has just had a change at the top, and the US is approaching election time again. Also, just maybe, the Internet might have a role to play here. Alongside its negative side of pornography and malicious hacking, it also helps to make people aware that there are other parts of the world and other lifestyles. Politicians are becoming good at telling us via the web what they want us to think, maybe they need to use the web to do some listening as well. I’ve always liked the word ‘netizens’, which implies that we are all citizens of another kind of more democratic world which values everyone. A rash of new sites such as MySociety, which aim to foster this are now appearing. Just maybe, those top execs might realise that in their struggle to compete with one another they are changing the world they value so much.

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September 7, 2007 - Posted by | General

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