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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. Her latest book is Hiding in Plain Sight: Exploring Scotland's ill health. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 14/11/2009 | 1 Comment

I go to a lot of events and what I’ve been noticing is  the number of people who have been referring to Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett’s book The Spirit Level. I wrote a blog on this a few months ago. Basically they present data to support their argument that the more unequal a society the worst its health inequalities, mental health, child health, violence, racism and a host of other problems. They argue that the issue is not so much poverty: many of those classed as ‘poor’ or ‘deprived’ have access to goods and a lifestyle that previous generations would have thought unheard of for poor people. Since the early 1980s the UK has become a very unequal society and, sure enough, social and economic problems are multiplying.

What I find fascinating is that as this argument is being taken up and discussed in various intellectual and political quarters ordinary people themselves are beginning to twig just how ill divided the world is. I agree that the politics of envy is not a pretty sight but I still think it generally a positive development that people are now beginning to question how their tax money is spent or why there seems to be one rule for the rich and  another for the poor.

On top of all the questions and dirt on MPs expenses, and bankers’ bonuses,  hardly a day goes by and there isn’t another version on the same theme. In the past few days I’ve noticed in the papers stories about the expenses and pay of senior BBC executives and the fact that civil servants posted to war zones to work in back offices get four times more in special payments that soldiers in the front line. 

In Scotland the main campaign on openness and fairness on finance is coming from Ken Roy at the Scottish Review on-line. I mentioned Ken in my last blog but his recent few articles on the pay and bonuses for consultants and top managers in the NHS draws attention to issues which we seriously need to address and is definitely worth reading.

One of the things which I can’t understand about the bonus culture is why are people being paid huge additional sums essentially to do their jobs?

Comment By Comment
Alan Coady
Joined: 30/04/2008

Comment Posted: 15/11/2009 21:25
One interesting irony, pointed out by a commentator on this morning's Broadcasting House, is that those encouraged/forced to join pension schemes which have since collapsed receive no help, while others, much less prudent with our money, have their mess mopped up with more of our money.

Also, the bonuses of those in charge of endowment plans seem to change little - in comparison to the caricature of original promise which the plans have become.
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