The independent High Pay Commission published a report this week stating that executive pay had risen 5,000% in the last 30 years whereas average pay had risen only 300% to £25,900. I’m sure that you will all have an opinion about this; whether you think it’s good or bad. The arguments in favour include; if wealth creators are not freed up and rewarded for their efforts then they might use their talents doing something else or applying their talents somewhere else. Counter arguments run; that we are returning to Dickensian inequalities and that these inequalities have a corrosive effect on our society. Where you place yourself in this debate will depend on your own values.
As I have mentioned before we all have things which are important to us in life; things that tend to motivate us to do what we do; how we judge right and wrong. These are our values. This is an important aspect about ourselves and about others that we need to understand, because it has far reaching effects on our lives and on our societies. As you go deeper into understanding people, behaviour, values, and how they develop and evolve over time you can see certain interesting patterns emerge and as you become aware of these your sense of what is going in life grows and deepens. What is important about that is that you can apply this learning to improve your own life and through that those around you, even organisations and corporations and through all of that society itself.
The statistics on pay are just the surface indication of something deeper. Something that is obvious and yet infrequently addressed. Fundamentally it’s about self expression and sacrificing self for your group. In reality of course neither is right nor wrong; it’s about both and how do you balance both. Look at your own life for a moment. Are you living a life that is self expressive or do you perceive more value in sacrificing self for your group; be that family, friends, corporations, country or religion.
Individuals are encouraged to earn and prosper and our taxation system redistributes wealth to encourage the whole to prosper. Your lungs bring oxygen into your body and your blood redistributes it around so that all parts of your body flourish. What is important, of course is that the taxation system does that and that everyone pays their taxes… joyfully (well almost). This system runs into trouble when the wealthiest avoid reasonable taxation or where the incentive for wealth creation is dimmed.
So what’s the solution? Well that still depends upon what you think the problem is. Let us start by remembering that there is precious little in life that you can do or achieve without the help of and the interaction with others; we all need each other, and that doesn’t end with our family, friends, corporation, country or religion. Our self interest needs be directed to serve the whole.
Written By Ewan Mochrie