How much is too much?

Fascinating to see Tony Blair’s former advisor, Matthew Taylor, venturing into the high earnings debate. He’s not “intensely relaxed” about it all, to borrow a famous Mandelson-ism:

The debate over top people’s pay is a kind of mirror image of that on social mobility. Just as we can be dismayed that it is so hard for poor children to get ahead, so we are encouraged to be angry when it is shown that a rich person doesn’t deserve their reward. What much less often gets discussed is whether anyone at all should be paid a salary beyond the wildest dreams or ordinary folk.

I am well paid; probably in the top 1 or 2% of earners in what is still, in international terms, a rich country (although rapidly becoming less so). I am not in a position to be pious. Not do I see myself as a class warrior. But I find it hard to understand why anyone thinks they are worth more than, say, £500,000 a year. Even this figure means the person’s remuneration is equivalent to five inner city GPs, twenty class room teachers or thirty care assistants.

Some would argue that such rewards are deserved by entrepreneurs who have built their own business. I am tempted to ask how committed an owner is to business growth if they are willing to take more than half a million a year out of the company to pay for a second yacht.

[HT: Mehdi Hasan & Tom Watson]

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