How to Improve the World with Four Easy Steps

August 30, 2007 at 10:57 am (life)

Well, unfortunately, unlike the title suggests, I don’t have any actual answers so, please replace the word ‘steps’ with ‘questions’ and then read on…

After reading A’s post about the fact that simply changing the world isn’t good enough, I decided that I would like to make a response, as similar thoughts have been plaguing me recently.

It started when I was told how much money a friend of mine could normally expect as a Christmas bonus and it turns out that it’s just a grand and a half less than my annual salary. The amount of money really shocked me; it’s not that I don’t think she deserves it. I know for a fact that this particular person is the hardest working person I have ever met and has been since we first got to know each other at school. If anyone deserves a cracking bonus, it’s her. However, it just seems rather unjust, as her job is not one that is trying to improve England or its inhabitants and it is also not adding anything to the community.

1. Why don’t the people working or fighting for a cause get all the bonuses?

The way life works, especially in London, is that you have to earn a respectable amount of money in order to survive. But does that warrant a bank giving out bonuses bigger than some nurses salaries? What exactly are these high flying business men and women doing in their job to add to or improve our society?

I won’t lie, at first, I may have been a bit jealous of the huge amount of money. My initial thought was “I’ve worked hard (granted not as hard) but where’s my big bonus at the end of the year?”. However, when later challenged with the question “well what do you actually want all that money for?”, I didn’t have an answer! Yes, I’d love to have more shoes (wouldn’t we all?) and I’d like to not have to worry about where my next pay cheque is coming from and at some point in my life, I’d like to be able to buy a house and provide for my family. Although I believe these things are all do-able on an average salary, you don’t need millions of pounds to be able to buy shoes for your children. So, I have come to the conclusion that as long as I have enough money to get by happily, then I don’t need millions.

What do people do with millions of pounds any way? Put it in the bank to make more millions? Is that not greedy? I’m sure that some people donate chunks of their money to good causes, but is it enough? Should it be left up to the individual to decide whether he/she wants to donate money or should it be done automatically for us? Is it our responsibility, as British citizens, to ensure that the health system works well and to ensure that those people doing jobs for the benefit of all of us, as a country, should be paid adequately?

2. Should salaries be worked out by evaluating an employees ‘worth’? i.e. how much the individual is adding to society.

Why is it that nurses, who work extremely long hours, and are trying to help save lives, do not earn much money? Are their jobs not some of the most important in the country? We expect the NHS system to be there when we need it but how can we expect medical staff to work when they are not being paid a fair amount? I feel that these jobs are more worthwhile and needed compared to all the jobs where someone is taking the role of the middle man in order to simply ‘make money’. It is far too easy to choose a job on the basis of its salary and not on the basis of its moral obligation. Why is this so?

In England there is no sense of rewarding those who are working to try and improve what we have. Take teachers, for example, they are educating our future, they are battling with stroppy teenagers and crying infants to try and change something, to make a difference. This is one of the most important jobs in the world. (Yes, I know that the education system itself is not perfect but that is a different battle entirely.) The teachers who are improving our children’s lives and encouraging their brains, creativity and abilities to grow, should be paid much higher salaries. The salary should compensate for the long hours, the swearing kids and give recognition to the fact that without them, we would be up shit creek without a paddle!

3. Why is London playing a different game to the rest of us?

In the big city that is our capital, it appears to me that we are playing a cut-throat game. Only the wealthy can get wealthier and it is extremely hard to get on that ladder without pushing your morals to one side. Another friend, who works in recruitment, said recently something along the lines of “You do what you’ve got to do, in order to get the job done and to get the sale”. What does that mean? Forget about your morals as long as you’re making money? Recruitment is an industry that I despise, they find you a job and then cream a certain percentage off your salary. Nice! What are they actually achieving and why do they deserve your/the companies money? As far as I can see the positives of this industry are:

  • They find you a job and (hopefully) make it less stressful then it would otherwise have been for both the employer and the employee.
  • They might be able to find the right job for you as they have a large network of contacts.

The negatives:

  • It has become virtually impossible to find a job without going through an agency because so many companies use them.
  • You loose a chunk of your money. (You could be on a higher salary if the agency wasn’t involved.) Or, the company looses a chunk of its money that could be put towards better things (supporting local apprenticeships for example.)
  • People are being paid a packet to be the middle man. What can they say that they’re adding to society?

4. How much money do we actually need?

If you were rolling in cash what would you do with all the money? How long would it take before you got bored of the second home in LA and the expensive car? What would having those things do to enrich your life? As the saying goes: money can’t buy happiness. I’m not saying that having lots of money wouldn’t be fun, but how much do we really need to have a happy and fulfilling life? I think what I’m trying to say is that the proportions of the countries money and how it is divided, doesn’t seem fair. I’m not sure if I’m saying that I want there to be more taxes because unfortunately I don’t know if I trust the government enough! I would like more money to be poured into education, medicine and given to charities, but I’m not sure if I trust the government to do that. They’d probably blow a whole lot of it on a war somewhere, that we didn’t really want or need, thus f***ing up another country as well as our own – good one!

Take some time to ponder over these questions, if you will, and give me your thoughts. Have I got the wrong end of the stick? Do bank employees deserve to be the richest people in the country? As you can see, I don’t know any of the answers; I am merely asking the questions that are revolving in my head, so that we will think about what we really want out of our lives. It would be nice if one day we live in a country where people only take as much as they need and do not hunger for more, just for the sake of it. Then, hopefully, all sectors of the community will be paid adequately and maybe we will feel a moral obligation to find, or do a job, that satisfies us whilst helping our neighbour.

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5 Comments

  1. ratmaggot said,

    The questions are all well and good, but the facts are that very few jobs out there “deserve” their salaries or bonuses. I’ve worked in software, advertising and new media around the UK, in London, in Israel and in the USA and I’ve been well paid for it but I’ve never considered that I’ve had a “worthwhile” job. Because of this, I’ve never given my “all” to a job.

    In my view, the only jobs that deserve being paid for their worth are those that directly improve our lives – the nurses, the teachers, the doctors. Jobs that give a tangible amount back to society.

    The problem is simple: a moral obligation? There are no morals in business, that’s all the there is to it. Anyone who works feels they deserve their rewards (which on a purely factual level is true of every job) but it is unfortunate that these rewards are not scaled realistically (tbh the CEO doee not need to earn 500 times more than his admin girl, lets say for sake of argument 10 times is enough to compensate for the added stress) or based on any form of “real world” worth (instead being based on intra-company and intra-sector worth).

    Thing is, of course, nothing’s ever going to change.

  2. Rj said,

    Yeah, I was thinking the same thing about there not actually being many jobs that directly improve our lives, but I didn’t want to add more complication (and length) to my original post!

    As you say, nothing’s going to change, at least not globally. I’ll just have to be more picky when finding myself a job.

  3. ratmaggot said,

    picky is fine. i’m being picky right now.

    however picky doesn’t always pay the bills or buy cadbury’s whole nut.

  4. crunchcorner said,

    ha ha! Very true

  5. Blanche said,

    Wow! This is all very heavy! Very interesting! Obviously I agree, you know how passionate and worked up I get when I contemplate my wage compared to (for example) a professional footballers!
    Any way thank you for mentioning us poor teachers. I’ve noticed that these days teachers of my generation tend to only stay in the profession for a few years. It’s as if we want to do something worthwhile and give something back to our community, but the job asks too much of us.
    I won’t go into it anymore, Elvis is clearing the table around me in an effort to serve dinner.
    B x
    ps Say hi to Mum and Dad

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