Monday, 24 September 2012

Greedy Brits

There is a strange phenomenon in this country that I can't quite understand. Whether it's misunderstanding, pig ignorance or willful misrepresentation out of greed, our country suffers from a disgusting disease of greed.

Of course, those greedy lot are more vocal than the more measured, and may well be a minority, but their presence is significant in the national discourse none the less.

Take Higher Education tuition fees; This is a "debt" (it's not a real debt) that falls heaviest on those who are strong earners, specifically those that are strong earners from day 1 of their graduate life. Yet if you listen to the NUS, and to Labour, and a swathe of misinformed protestors on the'd believe it is bleeding the poor dry.

Ignore that the terms of this "debt" are far more favourable to the poor than they were before, repayment terms giving people a much greater margin of income before they need to repay their fee loans, all we seem to be able to see if the pound signs that say £9k instead of £3k.

No, paying more is bad. Except a large number of people, with a median wage of £21k (granted, this isn't a graduate median wage, but that figure is nigh on impossible to find accurately) in this country, won't be paying anything back. The rise of the fees from £3k to £9k may as well have been pushed even higher to £100k, because the repayment terms are so favourable to those who are poor.

Furthermore, the terms mean that it doesn't matter what your debt is, you'll be paying it off for 30 years anyway (if you reach the threshold of the median wage in the country, at which point you become part of the wealthier minority). Oh, except if you're super rich of course, in which case you'll not.

So who is really arguing against these changes? If you're rich (but not wealthy in heritage), I guess I can understand it. You used to pay your tuition fee loan off really quickly, now it's going to take you longer; it's "unfair" you have to pay more now given you take more. But if you don't know...what is the problem? you're afraid that you'll have to pay more than you used to?

As I said above, maybe these people are just ignorant of the realities, or maybe they are just out and out greedy. To be paying more than you would have under Labour's old system you have to be someone that enters the top 10% of all earners in the UK, one of the richest earners on the planet.

It creates a bizarre situation where people are complaining that they have money to pay towards maintaining an institution that likely helped them achieve "greatness", because rather than taking an extra 60p of everything they earn in the future on their luxurious salary, it'll only be 51p.


There are literally billions of people in the world that can't even comprehend taking home enough money each year after taxation and "debt" repayments, probably while owning a fairly secure asset in at least one home, to buy three small cars. And you're complaining that you might have to reinvest some of this in to an asset in our society that helped you get to where you are?

Seriously, sort out your priorities.

Then there is the supposed declaration by Nick Clegg of war on the "middle classes", as it would be described in the Daily Mail. New taxes on those earning over £50k, the top 10% of earners in the UK! Cue absolutely batshit-insane, shooting-self-in-foot, cutting-nose-off-to-spite-face, nonsense...

"What is the point in working if the harder you work the more you get penalised? You'll just end up with a nation of backward, scrounging wasters because everyone else will just leave." - m.bauder, London.

We live amongst people that seem to honestly believe that having money that *you don't need* portioned up so that some of it goes back to help people that *don't have the money they need* is penalising you for working harder.

Now, let's just take this shit about you "working harder" our of the equation. It suggests the single mother juggling three part time jobs to keep her kids heated and fed while only just aquiring the median wage isn't working hard. It assumes the cleaners that come in to work every day to the London underground and clean up our shit and take our abuse and stress on a daily basis don't work hard. More importantly it assumes that sitting at a desk, funneling other people's decisions, and having meetings over lunch is hard work too.

But what is the penalty? If I currently earn £42k, and I get a £5k pay rise, then I'm up each year by around £2500. What exactly am I having to deal with to get that £5k pay rise anyway? Maybe a new person to take responsibility for? A better job title?

Maybe I'm self-employed and I only get that extra £5k is I am doing actual extra work, perhaps more hours, truly "working hard" I going to look that £2500 down and say... "nah, don't need it" just because it happens to be the result of a 40%, rather than 20% tax rate?

let's not forget that I'm already taking home something in the region of £28k *already* and that is at least £5k above what you "need" to live a comfortable life style.

Don't think the idea of £2300 is worth it compared to £2500 in take home pay? Fine, don't do it. The work won't disappear, it'll just go to someone else who is either a far more rational greedy person or, (fingers crossed) someone that actually needs the money.

You stamping your feet, crossing your arms, and sticking your bottom lip out saying "fine, I won't earn that much then" isn't a threat. It's laughable that you think your earning power is even remotely that important. All the "threat" does is allow more people in to work, and it means money has the opportunity to be more evenly distributed around the population of this country.

"Im sick of polititions thinking hitting the middle class is the answer, go after the people who can afford your ludicrous tax hikes!" - ali, Dublin

It just confounds me that people that earn an insane amount of money by global standards can think they don't have anything left to give. So you might need to not buy your over-priced brand of tomato sauce, maybe you'll need to use the car a bit less (at least you might walk more, avoid the heart attack from all this stressed outrage at how everyone is trying to take the pennies from your piggy bank). At what point though will you ever realise how good you've actually got it?

Of course the basic, greedy, one-track-mindism of this kind of person, to boil everything down to money and possessions, causes much more damage. Not being able to "afford" to give a fair share of your disposable income to the state to pay for things like welfare, job creation, healthcare, education, security only means that more is needed to help people. If your money isn't helping to create jobs, then it's costing you more in welfare bills. If your money isn't helping to educate and pre-preemptively tackle issues such as violence, and illness...then people will just cost more in patching them up. If your money isn't going towards keeping the peace, then it just costs you more in cleaning up, detaining and compensating.

It begs the questions as to whether or not these greedy lot are even responsible enough with money to deserve it!

At the end of the day we live in a society now where if you earn the median wage, taking out the basic costs of living such as necessary food, rent, insurance, tax and basic amenities, they have perhaps a 25-30% disposable income that they can use (probably to spend on more than basic food first!). Someone earning £50k will have close to 50% disposable income. I wouldn't be calling for that level to be the same no matter the wage (though note it would still mean someone on £50k would have twice as much money in real terms), but do we really believe for one second that out of everyone in the entire country it is this group of people that are both unable to give more, and are already targeted "too much"?