Some of the earlier postings suggested that all of this was either Ken's fault or the Labour Government's fault. Surely, however, this was a dispute between Unison members and the employers (including, in our case, Liberal Democrat Southwark Council, but also involving other councils across the whole of London)? I know there is a view that all politicians are the same, but it really makes more sense to look at who is actually in charge, rather than just adopting a scatter-gun approach. Also, to argue that all jobs that we wouldn't want to do should be paid more politically naive. Firstly, to assume that pay should be proportional to unpleasantness is to assume that there is a consensus on what an "unpleasant" job is. I for one would find being a chartered accountant unpleasant, because it involves long hours, dull corporate number-crunching and analysis, tax analysis, etc. But they are paid shed-loads. The simple fact is that the free market finds the optimum rate for the job and only fails when there is either chronic over/under supply of labour or when corporate featherbedding takes place, due to the inequitable power wielded by senior executives when awarding their own salaries. However, as the first "problem" has not been a reality for the UK for many years, and the second remains a problem concerning only a very few (admittedly wealthy) individuals, I would say that, in general, the free market works pretty well. The problem is, of course, that the civil service and their council equivalents are not under the same economic rigours as their private sector counterparts. So in this sense, Mapmaker has a point. I would simply say that I have never yet seen a local council, either Labour, Liberal Democrat or Tory, that was understaffed.
I think what you find people moaning about is the incredibly poor management of Southwark council. We all pay a very high level of council tax in Southwark compared to many areas in London, but there are few boroughs that are so mismanaged. People arn't moaning about the bin collectors, who I am sure do a decent job with the limited resources they have, they are moaning about the lack of foresight the council has. Tooley St is a prime example - they have pulled that road up so many times over the last few years and althoug it looks good now - what a waste of money.
Adele I think you may not realise but people live with sh*t on their doorstep day after day and its these little things than begin to pi*s you off. Sure it's pales into insignificance compared to what's happening around the world but it's what effects us day to day.
I didn't say pay should be related to unpleasantness (see previous message) I said it should be related to the value the job is to society at large. Now value is a tricky term but I don't think it should be defined solely in economic terms. These public services are highly valuable because without them society couldn't function properly, they are essential. I haven't yet heard anyone convince me that without management consultants and accountants society would stop functioning. So if the free market cannot recognise the true value of public service jobs compared to purely economic value of inessential jobs then it is not as perfect a system as you seem to suggest.
Thanks for the message of support. Normally people on this forum jump down my throat the minute I dare to challenge their narrow-minded Tory views so it is refreshing to hear someone not echoing that. spot on re sushi and champagne point as well - we know what we're dealing with here and deep down inside so do they.
Jonathan, I noticed that your post, which very eloquently explained the whole point of this thread, was completely ignored by Adele who choose instead to go off on a tagent about champagne and sushi and make incorrect political assumptions about people who use the forum?!?
Adele, I can't say I am surprised that “people on this forum jump down my [your] throat” when you display such an aggressive attitude on what was is a valid topic for debate which Dave started.
I didn't make the sushi and champagne points - Kevin did (which you seem to have have ignored). As for "incorrect political assumptions" - if you read the messages on this thread you will see that political allegiances are declared by some people (either implicitly or explicitly).
re Jonathan's point - my message was not explicitly directed at him but at the slightly more childish messages that were posted on the thread (you can make your own mind up about which messages I'm referring to). He is wrong, however, to think I do not have s**t piled up on my doorstep day after day - difference is that I don't think its that big a deal (esp when its due to hard-working bin men striking) and also I try and recyle most of my crap. Yes we all know Southwark Council can do a bad job at times but some things are unavoidable or difficult to deal with. In any case a lot of the comments on this thread were not directed at the council but at the binmen and their strike. It is those comments I am objecting to - criticise the council all you want if you think they're not doing their job properly.
And I didn't say that the free market was a perfect method of securing fair wages either (see my previous point). However, I do think it is the best system by far for identifying what people actually value, as long as you have genuine labour market flexibility. Its not a Tory thing to support the free market, all of the major parties in this country support it to some degree. Indeed, the only places in the world which had a stab at trying the only other viable alternative, namely Communism, are now falling head-over-heels to join the European Common Market, which, for all its imperfections, is another example of a free market of sorts.
The trouble with public sector wage rises (currently averaging 5%) versus private sector wage rises (currently averaging under 3%) at the moment (and this includes bin-men), is that "the rider has become bigger than the horse". And yes, I am paraphrasing an odious right-wing politician of yesteryear.
I never said I didn't support some kind of free market either it was other people on the thread who seemed to proclaim its perfection and lack of faults. However, I think you'll find that there are lots of countries (socialist ones mainly) that do not believe a free market left uninterfered with is that desirable and so do interfere with it in some way (e.g. Scandinavia,Germany). Even Thatcher interfered with the free market by reducing trade union members' rights to organise and strike etc, which after all is a 'free' activity undertaken by 'free' men and women. What I am specifically objecting to is the childish claim that the free market is faultless and never causes any problems for society at large. There have been more deaths directly caused by global capitalism than by communism although this does not mean I support full-blown versions of either.
As for your point about public sector v private sector wages - this is misleading. the higher rate that you quote may in fact be justfied if public sector wages have been frozen or at too low a level for a while. This did in fact happen when there was a Tory government in power. That said I do think the current level of pay rise in private sector wages is too low as well and yet again shows how, if left to its own devices, the free market will unfairly reward people at the top and not the vast majority of people who are the backbone of profit. It is not that surprising that interfering economies like Japan and Scandinavia have very low wage differentials between the top and the bottom wage and yet we like the US have one of the biggest wage differentials in the world.
So the phrase "the rider has become bigger than the horse" is not only misleading but also incorrect. It should be "the horse has become too big for the riders" and if we're not careful soon the horse will be left galloping away with the riders trampled beneath its feet. To some extent this has already happened if you look at global capitalism and its effect on many poor countries in the world lets hope it we can rein it in before it destroys us as well.
wow. a very simple question that is very complex and difficult to answer. There are many reasons for countries being poor that are economic, cultural, geographical and political. If you want to know why I think global capitalism has had a detrimental effect on poor countries then my first simplistic response would be unfair trade rules and lack of accountability of corporate power. sorry for my pathetic answer but it is too complex to answer in a message like this really. why do you think they are poor?
In her inimitably naive way, Adele wrote 'I haven't yet heard anyone convince me that without management consultants and accountants society would stop functioning.'
Goodness me, Adele, of course it would! Who would make sure that Southwark didn't overspend even earlier in the year, if not the accountants. Who would make sure that big companies paid their tax (which provides the state handouts your sort so dearly loves) if accountants didn't audit their accounts.
Who would make sure that big companies didn't go bankrupt (and hence be unable to pay their taxes) when they seek a change of direction if you banned management consultants.
I'm afraid modern society, with all those luxuries you take for granted (television, rubbish disposal, computers etc.) would collapse without professional advisers.
Now if you'd rather go and join the head hunting tribes in New Guinea, and live in mud huts, wear grass skirts and abandon your philosophy PhD (now where's the value to society in that?) then you will find a society that can survive without them.