Thursday, 4 June 2009

Sorry to disturb you

Today is polling day in England... for some local councils, not us ever since we stopped being part of Kent and became our own little county we've been out of sync with the rest of the country on that one but for all European parliament elections.

I had a couple of errands before going to work today - post all the AA letters I needed to, go to the polling station and go pick up a parcel from the sorting office.

So I left a bit later than normal and headed first to post the letters then into the polling station now at about 7:02 - i.e. just as they opened. I thought I was early there was no one there. I walked in and the three ladies who were the polling clerks all quickly shuffled over and sat at the table. I passed over my polling card for them to tick me off the register and one of them said. "Congratulations you are the first". I voted - a difficult decision as frankly I half wanted to spoil my paper with some protest about the current crop of politicians but then thought - "There are people dying in countries like Zimbabwe right now to get the opportunity to freely put a cross on a bit of paper like this, you should vote and vote with the conscience you have at the time". So I placed my vote more as an acknowledgement to those that have fought for the right to vote for me in day gone by and as a point of solidarity for those held in oppression elsewhere right now rather than a feeling that I was behind who I voted for and what they will do if elected.

I popped my paper into the box, thanked the ladies and left. I looked up and down the road... No-one, it was like a ghost town, I swear the birds went quiet for a moment too. I doubt the ladies in that hall will be very busy at all today.

So finally I have to mention the MPs expenses fiasco. I don't condone any wrong doing and I'm glad for the transparency that has exposed some of this nonsense. I don't understand some of the argument... "We have to run two houses". So do plenty of people forced through economic conditions to have to work a long way from their family base, I know just some folks myself and they rent/buy a "little flat" for the week and have to get on with it. It goes with the job which you knew when you signed up. Blah blah blah... it partly doesn't matter.

The real point for me is this, there was a survey on the BBC about top exec pay this week I saw - something like CEO pay in FTSE 100 companies went up 2% last year whilst the value of those companies on the stock market fell by about a third. Crap performance if you believe a CEOs job is to raise the long term value of his company. One top CEO gets an eye watering £36million and the head of Tesco a modest (considering) £13million a year.

So MP vs CEO vs nurse vs teacher? Who adds more "value" to the country? I leave you to judge yourselves but if I was a young graduate who could do anything... MP or CEO... little choice these days I'd wager. Funny that a minister telling big business what they should do to help the country or have to do since the minister is enacting new legislation has to live with the fact the CEOs he faces are earning more in the meeting than he does in a year.

No wonder many MPs and ministers are thinking they have had enough. Is £60,000 what an MP should be paid? Is a nurse or teacher paid what we should pay them? Yes it is tax payers money and we want "value" etc. However the FTSE100 companies are owned by all of us with money in a private or company pension scheme - we just have little say in how they are used... or what our money is invested in. I'd rather the £36million salary was slashed to something suitable and the rest plowed into the company to grow it's value back so I have a pension in 20 years time.

Enough of politics then... we live in an unfair society where people who do a lot of direct good are paid little and many who do little but exploit the system and all the people in it are paid a lot.

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