The current bogeymen have for a few years, since the banking crisis been the bankers. But banks play a central role in our lives in modern society. Bank cards mean we can access our money 24 x 7, if an unexpected crisis hits. Mortgages mean that we can own our own homes and live in comfort. Finance for cars means we can transport ourselves. Have you ever left your bank cards at home, then gone to buy something and found yourself embarrassed at the checkout. That is the difference technolgy has made to our lives via banking. I've bought beds, carpets, cars and cupboards on finance. Without a banker, I'd have had to sleep on the floor and taking my bands equipment to gigs would have been impossible. So I do not believe in even bashing bankers.
I suspect that when you read the title of this blog, you didn't expect this to be the drift of the blog? But it is important to make the case I make in a calm and rational way and to explain that it is not the politics of envy which I am advocating. I am advocating fairness. Whichever one of the jobs you feel is most important, one thing is clear. For the UK PLC to flourish, we need an educated population. All of the most important jobs require an education. Which, to my mind, puts teachers near the top of the pile. So how much do we pay teachers. I did a quick google and the first Barnet teaching job I found had a starting salary of around £26,000 per annum. This was for a science teacher at Oak Hill School. The cheapest property to buy with an EN4 (ie local to the job) postcode I could find was a shared ownership flat at £154,000, but that was only for 35% of the equity. The cheapest outright sale was £254,000, for a one bedroom flat. This means that the cost is over nine times the salary of a teacher on the starting salary. What does this tell us about how much we value teachers? It is interesting to note that on the website for the estate agent, there is a school checker, which shows how good the schools locally are. It seems that the estate agent actually understands the value of the teachers efforts. There is a debate as to whether our public sector workers deserve a pay rise. The argument against it is that "we can't afford it". But why can't we? a quick search on jobs for investment managers threw one up in Harrow. The Salary Range - £45,000- £100,000 with a bonus up to 20%. Now as I said, people need fund managers, we rely on them to administer our pensions etc. But is there worth to society really 2-3 times that of a teacher? Don't we want the best and the brightest to educate the next generation of our workforce. Don';t we want teachers who can afford to live locally and have a decent home? Driving miles to work adds to pollution, which is another evil.
Let me tell you one interesting thing. During the second world war, all the aces with the most kills were German fighter pilots. This wasn't because Germans were better pilots. It was because the Germans thought the best place for their aces was flying fighter planes. The Allies had a different strategy. When pilots proved their competence, they were moved to other roles, as pilot trainers or elsewhere. The idea was that they share their knowledge and pass their tricks on. This meant that whilst their were less kills for the aces, the pilot gene pool was stronger. It also meant that there were less elite cliques and a better teamworking environment. In short, when it really mattered education was valued.
Sadly, the Thatcher years saw the denigation of professions. The loads of money, spiv based economy where cash is king has dominated our thinking. We want great schools for our kids, but we don't want to pay the taxes to give teachers a decent standard of living. It's the same with doctors, nurses and social workers. These vital roles are suffering a pay freeze, whilst executives vote themselves ever greater pay rises, whilst voting for the party which offers the lowest tax. The net result is that our society has become disfunctional. A time will come soon, when the workforce required to run a city will be priced out of it. This will ultimately punish our children, our grandparents and our vulnerable friends. At the weekend, a well to do friend stated that his children would always do well because he'd paid for the best education for them. This makes the assumption that they will always be healthy, always be able to find a plumber when their drains block, always be able to drive to a hospital and never need an ambulance, a policeman or a fireman.
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