British research company Incomes Data Services today published it’s annual report on the pay of the directors of Britain’s biggest companies (those listed in the FTSE 100). The report reveals that at a time when most workers’s wages are rising well below inflation, Britain’s bosses have on average awarded themselves a 49% pay rise for the year.
By chance, shortly after reading this appalling statistic, I came across the following quote from Keynes reprinted in Norman O. Brown’s wonderful ‘Life Against Death’. It seemed an entirely appropriate response to this particular piece of news and (perhaps) an intriguing vision of things to come:
“When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession – as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realties of life – will be recognized for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialist in mental disease.” (From: John Maynard Keynes, Essays in Persuasion, p.369).
Do strait-jackets come in pin-stripe…..?