Feb 232012

“That said, the low status accorded to many non-industrial jobs can be grossly unfair. Part of the problem is that we have developed a distaste for socially useful but poorly paid jobs. This is a spin-off from the new religion of meritocracy, where one’s rank in the social hierarchy is supposedly determined on merit. The problem lies in how to define ‘merit’. The New Economics Foundation (NEF) think-tank published a report in 2009 comparing the social value of different occupations. Hospital cleaners are generally on the minimum wage. However, NEF calculated that – taking into account the fact that they maintain standards of hygiene and contribute to wider health outcomes – they generated over £10 in social value for every £1 they were paid.

Waste recycling workers are another example. They fulfill all sorts of functions, like preventing waste and promoting recycling, as well as re-using goods and keeping down carbon emissions. The NEF model estimated that, for every £1 spent on their wages, another £12 was generated. But when the think-tank applied the same model to City bankers – taking into account the damaging effects of the City’s financial activities – they estimated that for every £1 they were paid, £7 of social value was destroyed.”

(p. 159, Owen Jones: Chavs – The Demonization of the Working Class)

 Leave a Reply



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Switch to our mobile site