Not very well thought out class analysis of the day

One of the things I wonder about is the way that a certain section of the lefty intellectual set seem so angry about top people\’s incomes.

And I think I\’m beginning to understand where some of it comes from.

Jealousy.

Take for example the Neil Lawson\’s of this world: La Toynbee herself perhaps. The latter\’s household income is well past £300 k (two £100k salaries, books and freelance income on top) and, adjusting for inflation how you will that\’s a solid upper middle class income in any era.

The rewards of being a well regarded intellectual \”thinker\” haven\’t fallen any. Will Hutton\’s on a good screw at the Work Foundation, I\’ve no idea what the Indy pay Young Johann but I doubt that, with the freelance stuff, he\’s on less than £100k.

These people aren\’t, in any real nor even historical sense, being underpaid for what they do.

Yet, in the past few decades, whose who would have been on comparable numbers historically, the bankers, stockbrokers, corporate mavens, have soared past them to five to ten times that very decent upper middle class income.

That is what grates I think: that those who did sums not arts, lordy forbid, those who actually went into trade, have pulled away from those who do all the hard stuff like thinking about what oppressions the government should impose upon us.

And given that at those sorts of incomes purchases are very much positional goods (there are only so many Georgian mansions in Clapham, 5 bedder Victorians in Hampstead, The Ivy only has so many tables) this really does hurt.

I\’m sure this is unkind of me but I really do think there would be less whining from such quarters about \”top peoples\’ pay\” if it had actually been all top peoples\’ pay which had inflated.

Rather than just that of the spotty geeks with the slide rules and pocket protectors that the incrowd laughed at on the way back from that Young Fabian\’s lecture on the importance of having right thinking people doing all the thinking.

13 comments on “Not very well thought out class analysis of the day

  1. You think a 30yr old columnist on a national newspaper would have got anywhere near £100k 30 years ago (even in terms of the income distribution)? I would be surprised if their salaries hadn’t kept pace with average financial ones. They are – don’t laugh as you know what I mean – the ‘superstars’ of that industry when their didn’t used to be any (or maybe very few).

    Tim adds: Bernard Levin, in his days as a young tyro, was probably on more actually.

  2. I doubt this. I read a fair bit of 19th century fiction and the rich London merchants do show up as villains fairly often, or at least as one of the targets of the author’s ire. Eg Vanity Fair, The Way We Live Now.

  3. Yet, in the past few decades, whose who would have been on comparable numbers historically, the bankers, stockbrokers, corporate mavens, have soared past them to five to ten times that very decent upper middle class income.

    I didn’t expect to see you jumping to the defense of those so firmly attached to the teat of the state Tim.

    I don’t have a problem with people being secured the full fruits of their industry, however, that isn’t really what has happened at the top end of the income scale is it?

    Tim adds: Ah, but then I’m pretty sure this opening up of a gap is as a result of globalisation. Then bankers are earning pennies off billions while Polly’s books are still only selling to the few thousands of the committed in the UK

  4. Ah, the UK’s comparative advantage has been in finance for a while. Of course part of that advantage is derived from the subsidy finance recieves from the state.

  5. It’s also reinforced by the fact that they are surrounded by people with similar views, who are paying themselves handsomely, and they probably have a natural reaction that the small government libertarians are a bit crazy. They just have no idea how the world works.

    Look at any of the Guardian Media Group reports and their plush offices, and huge salaries and then consider that the Scott Trust is going to run out of money in about a decade at their current rate of losses.

  6. Yeah but there was only one Bernard Levin – there’s about 20 columists per paper now. The other 19 must be doing better.

    Tim adds: It is though only the “stars” that get the big bucks. Whatever it is that Hari (and perhaps Birchill) get on the Indy I know of at least one lesser name columnist who left because the rates on offer were so low. A comment piece (not a column!) in the Telegraph now earns half what it did two years ago.

    General commentary rates are going down even while those few stars get very good money indeed (I’ve heard that one columnist works for £5 k a column. Pretty good when a comment piece in the say, Express, pays £400.)

  7. One of the things I wonder about is the way that a certain section of the lefty intellectual set seem so angry about top people’s incomes.

    Jealousy.

    You know two brothers: A and B. Both are equally skilled and just as willing to labour. A is given a million pounds and buys a lovely house, a charming wife and many beautiful stocks. B gets fuck all. Sure, the best reaction is to think, “How can I help ma main man B” but one could hardly stop oneself from feeling badly towards A’s success.

  8. Then bankers are earning pennies off billions

    In some parts of the industry, maybe. Others do rather better, such as the fund managers that take an excessively high percentage of the funds they manage.

    and huge salaries and then consider that the Scott Trust is going to run out of money in about a decade at their current rate of losses.

    In which case I think Polly et al should immediately get their salaries doubled or even tripled.

  9. Curiously Tim’s theory is very similar to what Ludvig Von Mises thought and wrote about in his book “The Anti-Capitalist Mentality”.

    Tim adds: It really doesn’t surprise me that any half reasonable surmise I independently come to has been thought up by someone better, earlier.

    It’s when I’m truly original that I worry.

  10. consider that the Scott Trust is going to run out of money in about a decade at their current rate of losses.

    Conjecture: extrapolating company results from early 2009-early 2010 to come up with data for the next 10 years isn’t necessarily going to be accurate. Unless, I suppose, you expect every year over the next 10 to involve the same kind of economic climate as 2009…

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