Public Sector Pay: Are They Worth It?


Today it would seem that firemen are flavour of the month, yes heroes no less, incredibly brave men and women running into danger where any sane person is running for their lives in the opposite direction. The tragedy of Grenfell Tower, well I say tragedy I mean gross negligence, brought such bravery into sharp relief. Time and again they were ordered into an inferno and time and again they responded magnificently. One man’s story was published via Facebook and summed up here. Imagine, you are presented with a vision of Dante’s Hellfire and instructed to search the 23rd of 24 floors of a blazing inferno. “Righty ho” I’m sure you’d say “I’ve just had to run from four or five streets away with heavy equipment so this should be a walk in the park”. Many good people were given such instructions and the bravery shown that night beyond both imagination and words.

The smoke grew thicker with each floor we went up. No proper floor numbers on the stairwells after about the 5th floor made it hard to know where you were. Someone before us had tried to write them on the wall with chinagraph pencil but this didn’t last long. The dirty smoke was covering the walls with a film of blackness. Around the 9th floor we lost all visibility and the heat was rising. Still we continued up and up through the blackness. We reached what we believed to be the 19/20th floor but there was no way to tell.

There were terrible decisions to be made that night about which lives to save. They came across two people in obvious distress begging for help. There were reports of five people trapped above so what do you do? Save the two still alive or go after five more who may not exist? The fill story is on Chronicle live.

So I’m sure we’re all agreed that firemen and women do a valuable job and show the very greatest of bravery just like our armed forces and the rest of our emergency services, or are we? You see I seem to recall that our firefighters are a bunch lazy bast… so and so’s, you know spend all night asleep so they can do a second job, hold local authorities to ransom with outrageous pay demands, that they are over-demanding wanting deals that the rest of us can’t have. Those saying all this were of course the usual suspects pointing out the oh so cushy life firefighters have that they do nothing to earn, they’re part of the skivers brigade. Don’t believe me try here and here and here and here. Needless to add none of these outlets had an agenda and Boris didn’t really want to shut 10 fire stations.

The police are certainly heroes surely when called upon? PC Wayne Marques certainly fits that description, he’s the guy who charged three armed terrorists single-handed. It’s important to bear in mind that his attackers had fake suicide vests on although there could be no way of knowing that, he piled in regardless not knowing whether he’d live or die during the confrontation. He’d heard screams and ran to help because that was his job, what followed was above and beyond any call of duty. Such was the extent of his injuries he gave out last messages for his family and does not know if he can ever return to frontline police duties, (full story BBC). Yet at the height of austerity mania it seems the police were all lazy too and taking second jobs see here. I’m not linking any more you know the score, same script.

At the risk of going off at a tangent, bear with me, I read today of 10 reasons we tax corporations and why we should continue to do so. Richard Murphy reports that “The corporate income tax is under attack. Nation states are scrambling to offer multinational corporations an ever growing feast of lower taxes, loopholes and incentives. Lobbyists and politicians constantly try to persuade us that the corporate tax is a bad, inefficient, unreasonable tax”. I don’t agree with how some of these reasons are framed eg, they pay for public services, they don’t. Taxes don’t fund anything, but they most certainly balance the tax system so the burden can be spread fairly across populations. The whole idea is to relieve the taxation on labour and force the Rentier class to pay their share.

Nicholas Shaxson, the report’s main author, said:

“Corporate profits are soaring, as workers lose political battles with the owners of capital; as multinationals shake off pesky regulations; and as public assets are sold off. Yet taxpayers are seeing less and less of this bonanza, as corporations increasingly free-ride off public goods, leaving everyone else to pay the taxes they won’t. The result? Inequality rises, whole economies are thrown out of balance, and democracy and prosperity suffer.”

I have no idea why corporations feel so hard done by, to borrow an expression, you’ve never had it so good. There is a race to the bottom on corporate tax rates that does nobody any good at all. Companies such as Apple are sitting on record cash piles and for what? The problem with these cash piles is that they are being put to no productive use and are depriving nations of vital public services. What do those nations do for corporations? They provide for Police officers like Wayne Marques and firefighters like Phillip Drummond. Those are the guys who rush in to protect your workers and customers, a good deal for you I think.

Yesterday we were treated to parliament at it’s very worst, it wasn’t only me recoiling in disgust at the cheering that greeted cutting these people’s wages in real terms. People like nurses and teachers get cut while MPs pocket a very handy 11% rise, good work if you can get it. Yet all these public sector workers spend in the local economy and do massive public good. Do you want a great nation or great corporations? Choose carefully.

*Photo Credit: London Evening Standard*

Plenty more to read on my Newsfeed.

You can also follow me on Twitter.



5 thoughts on “Public Sector Pay: Are They Worth It?

  1. Yet taxpayers are seeing less and less of this bonanza, as corporations increasingly free-ride off public goods, leaving everyone else to pay the taxes they won’t. […] There is a race to the bottom on corporate tax rates that does nobody any good at all.

    This is something that I do know quite a bit about, the underlying psychology that leads to the thought that “it’s my money and don’t you dare touch it!!!” You know as well as I do that money doesn’t solve problems; the problem here is that the kind of person who works in a corporation is living under the illusion that it does.

    I mean, it’s worked thus far, so why can’t it work again?

    Which is fair enough if you’re used to your profits being eroded year on year and having your business taken over by your rival – year after year. Corporations are actually businesses that have repeatedly failed, only now they are so big, they’re “too big to fail”.

    I want to turn to Germany, a country that very few British people properly appreciate. Most British bloggers are happy to see Germany painted in the way it was before WW2… and think German politicians are as evil and corrupt as British ones.

    You see, in Germany, a corporation has to pay a 15% corporation tax. (Down from 35% in the 1990s, but still a substantial sum). Deutsche Bank, for example, has to pay its taxes in a way that Bank Of America doesn’t. Not only that, Deutsche Bank America (where most of Deutsche’s derivatives are held) has to pay German corporation tax because whilst it is an American bank in name and deed, it is a wholly owned subsidiary.

    As such, it has to pay German corporation tax.

    Just as any American subsidiary has to pay this tax if they are registered as a legal business entity at a Chamber of Commerce in Germany.

    Now do you understand why Germany gets so much flack in the mainstream media???

    It’s all about the money.

    The problem is the one you mentioned: the stacks of money in a corporation’s treasuries doesn’t do as much good for the country as the small amount paid in taxes.


    1. Exactly so, Germany is despised because it’s system is so hard to game and whistleblowers are thanked rather than demonised in the UK and elsewhere.


      1. I will make one minor correction: Germany’s system isn’t hard to game. It’s all but impossible to game it.

        So far, the only successful corporation to avoid paying corporation tax in Germany is Starbucks. The contortions they went through to achieve this must have cost them millions in legal bills…

        The only way the Americans have undermined the German economy thus far has been by external means, which usually hit the Americans harder. But then, the Americans can print money…


          1. Scandal? In that it is a watertight system and only the rich and powerful can get around it? Or do you mean something else?


Comments are closed.