That Guardian opinion columns will have only a marginal relationship to economics, maths or even reality is well known. But it is possible to find signs of the looming apocalypse even there, knowing that point.
Are you paid what you are worth? What is the relationship between the actual work you do and the remuneration you receive?
The revelation that London dog walkers are paid considerably higher (£32,356) than the national wage average (£22,044) tells us much about how employment functions today. Not only are dog walkers paid more, but they work only half the hours of the average employee.
It is clear that the relationship between jobs and pay is now governed by a new principle. The old days in which your pay was linked to the number of hours you clocked up, the skill required and the societal worth of the job are long over.
There’s never been a time when pay was determined by societal worth. Cleaning toilets is highly valuable societally: as the absence of piles of bodies killed off by effluent carried diseases shows. It’s also always been a badly paid job. Because wages are not and never have been determined by societal worth. Rather, by the number of people willing and able to do a job at what price versus the demand for people to do said job at that price. You know, this oddity we call a market.
That a Guardian opinion column might opine that jobs should pay their social worth is one thing, to claim that the world used to work that way is an error of a different and larger kind.
We are surrounded by examples of this increasing disparity between jobs and pay. For example, average wages in western countries have stagnated since the 1980s,
And there’s the maths error. For that’s not true either. Yes, as we know, wages have been falling in recent years but according to both Danny Blanchflower and the ONS real wages are still, after that fall, 30% or so higher than in the 80s (median wages). 30% over three decades isn’t great but it’s also not to be sniffed at: and it’s also not stagnation.
But we expect such errors from the innumerates who fight for social justice or whatever they’re calling it this week. At which point we come to the signs of the apocalypse:
Peter Fleming is Professor of Business and Society at City University, London.
Actually, he’s in the Business School:
Professor of Business and Society
That long march through the institutions has left us with professors at business schools believing, and presumably teaching, things that are simply manifestly untrue.
Woes, society to the dogs, apres moi la deluge etc.
It’s not a happy thought that this sort of stuff is being taught these days, rather than just scribbled in The Guardian, is it?